Sylvia: From the Royal Opera House 2004, 2010
Distributed by Distributed by Films Media Group, 132 West 31st St., 17th Floor, New York, NY 10001; 800-257-5126
Produced by Produced by Peter Wright
Directed by Directed by Ross MacGibbon
DVD, color, 88 min.
Jr. High - General Adult
Japan, Popular Culture, Music Trade, Singers
Date Entered: 07/08/2011
Reviewed by: Reviewed by Gerald Notaro, University Librarian, Nelson Poynter Memorial Library, University of South Florida, St. Petersburg
Though not as well known as his Coppelia, Sylvia (ou La Nymphe de Diane) from composer Leo Delibes is no less sophisticated. Tchaikovsky, who greatly admired Delibes, was especially enamored of this music. Notwithstanding a well-regarded score, the ballet itself received little attention or acclaim until the 1952 production by ballet master Sir Frederick Ashton with choreography specifically created for Margot Fonteyn. This Sylvia of the Royal Ballet with Darcey Bussell and Roberto Bolle is from 2004 (November 4), the 100th anniversary celebration of Ashton’s birth. In addition to showcasing Bussell’s particular brilliance and athleticism, this production is the first revival to restore all of the choreography from the 1952 production. The ballet’s story is mythological mosh. Sylvia, a nymph devoted to the goddess Diana, mocks Eros, a god of love. Aminta is a lowly shepherd falls in loves with Sylvia. The hunter Orion kidnaps Sylvia and mayhem ensues. Handsome and athletic Roberto Bolle performs a dazzling Aminta, whether solo or when complimenting Bussell. His role is comparatively small, but understandable as Sylvia was recreated and re-choreographed for Fonteyn. The Covent Garden Orchestra plays the score as the masterpiece it is. All of the supporting cast and the corps de ballet dance beautifully, adding visual depth, albeit unemotionally. This is a classic, straightforward Sylvia more traditional and true to the original form as opposed to the very modern production from the Paris Opera choreographed by John Neumeier. The technical qualities of the video recording rival those of a feature film, bringing viewers even closer to the exquisite details of this magnificent production.