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Great Performances: Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker (San Francisco Ballet) DVD

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This visually stunning, new production of Nutcracker, choreographed by Helgi Tomasson is a graceful, timeless adventure on a grand scale. Desgined by Michael Yeargan, setting the tale at the time of the 1915 San Francisco World Fair, is sensational. Each scene is more breathtaking than the last, bringing to life all the beloved characters with fresh sparkle and compelling originality. Recorded in High Definition video and true surround sound.
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PBSGreat Performances: Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker (San Francisco Ballet) DVD
 
4.8

(based on 18 reviews)

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    (17)

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    (1)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

Nutcracker: A Perfect Fantasy

Both my wife and I have limited backgrounds in theatre, she in front of the audience as a dancer and I as a stagehand in the background. We would like to comment on the ...Read complete review

Both my wife and I have limited backgrounds in theatre, she in front of the audience as a dancer and I as a stagehand in the background. We would like to comment on the Nutcracker as performed by the San Francisco Ballet and set against the 1915 World's Fair.

In a world where superlatives have become cliché, the San Francisco Ballet has put together a show that is not only excellent in its own right but is by far the best we have ever seen. This refers not to the best Nutcracker (we have seen nearly 40 performances) but to any ballet performance we have had the pleasure to witness.

The slide show of San Francisco at the opening of the 20th Century sets the tone for the remainder of the performance with its decorative backdrops. Of particularly subtle impact is the glimpse of Drostlemeyer's Clock Shop just before the actors take the stage. Damian Smith, as Drostlemeyer, exhibits an unusual flair for the dramatic that brings his role vividly to life. It appears that he has had training in sleight of hand and mime, so good is his performance. In the street, his presenting a nosegay to the nurse adds a touch of humanity that is rarely a part of this character and the husband laboring under a pile of presents behind his mincing wife contributes a touch of levity to the scene.

Raising the building's outer wall to gain entry into the parlor was an especially effective effect and, within, the jack-in-the-box and music-box dancer that Drostlemeyer brings to life move so characteristically in their routines that one could well believe that they are exactly what they portray. Also of note is the grandfather whose antics provide a lighthearted accent to the party.

In the dream scene, the parade of characters is topped off with Drostlemeyer rising in a cloud of smoke as though materializing from the floor itself. This alone would be enough to capture one's attention but the exchange of sets from normal to super-sized is a technical feat carried out with such smoothness that the audience senses that they are shrinking. The sword fight between the Mouse King and the Nutcracker was elegantly choreographed in stark contrast to other performances and the Mouse King's entrance and exit would appeal to children of every age as would the mice with cheese in the background.

While all the dancers throughout the performance were apparently well-accomplished, the character dances of Act II are unique in our experience. Lady bugs and damsel flies in the Pavilion of Dreams, a genie in a magic lamp, twirling ribbons for the Mirlitons, a playful Chinese dragon, Fabergé eggs for the Russians and a dancing bear are all special touches that make this particular performance of the timeless classic stand out. The hours of practice that must have gone into the Mirlitons and the Russians were obviously well spent and the height attained by the lead Russian dancer's leaps is reminiscent of my wife's skill when she undertook the same role many years ago. She specialized in the character dances of Act II and choreographed several different routines to that music. Nonetheless, she was thoroughly impressed with the San Francisco Ballet's renditions.

Finally, bringing out the dream dancers and having them swirl around the stage was a clever technique to disguise the entrance of Clara and Drostlemeyer before he banished them to mere memories and restored the house to its former state.

On the technical side, the sets were excellently done with meticulous attention to details found in the fashions of the period and their movement was perfectly coordinated with the backdrop changes. Particularly interesting were the motorized carriages for Madame de Circe and Clara's settee. The latter appeared to be remotely controlled while the former seemed to be directed by on-board hand controls. In addition to these was the use of costumes for the stagehands in Act II so that they became a part of the scene as they repositioned the various set elements.

Altogether, this was an excellently conceived and executed performance of Tchaikowsky's Nutcracker and would have made him proud of what he reputedly had called "the worst thing I've ever written."

VS

Most Liked Negative Review

 

Not as advertised

Claims to be hosted by Kristi Yamaguchi, and it's not!

Claims to be hosted by Kristi Yamaguchi, and it's not!

Reviewed by 18 customers

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(4 of 4 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Nutcracker: A Perfect Fantasy

By Glow Worm

from Honolulu, Hawaii

Verified Buyer

Comments about PBS Great Performances: Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker (San Francisco Ballet) DVD:

Both my wife and I have limited backgrounds in theatre, she in front of the audience as a dancer and I as a stagehand in the background. We would like to comment on the Nutcracker as performed by the San Francisco Ballet and set against the 1915 World's Fair.

In a world where superlatives have become cliché, the San Francisco Ballet has put together a show that is not only excellent in its own right but is by far the best we have ever seen. This refers not to the best Nutcracker (we have seen nearly 40 performances) but to any ballet performance we have had the pleasure to witness.

The slide show of San Francisco at the opening of the 20th Century sets the tone for the remainder of the performance with its decorative backdrops. Of particularly subtle impact is the glimpse of Drostlemeyer's Clock Shop just before the actors take the stage. Damian Smith, as Drostlemeyer, exhibits an unusual flair for the dramatic that brings his role vividly to life. It appears that he has had training in sleight of hand and mime, so good is his performance. In the street, his presenting a nosegay to the nurse adds a touch of humanity that is rarely a part of this character and the husband laboring under a pile of presents behind his mincing wife contributes a touch of levity to the scene.

Raising the building's outer wall to gain entry into the parlor was an especially effective effect and, within, the jack-in-the-box and music-box dancer that Drostlemeyer brings to life move so characteristically in their routines that one could well believe that they are exactly what they portray. Also of note is the grandfather whose antics provide a lighthearted accent to the party.

In the dream scene, the parade of characters is topped off with Drostlemeyer rising in a cloud of smoke as though materializing from the floor itself. This alone would be enough to capture one's attention but the exchange of sets from normal to super-sized is a technical feat carried out with such smoothness that the audience senses that they are shrinking. The sword fight between the Mouse King and the Nutcracker was elegantly choreographed in stark contrast to other performances and the Mouse King's entrance and exit would appeal to children of every age as would the mice with cheese in the background.

While all the dancers throughout the performance were apparently well-accomplished, the character dances of Act II are unique in our experience. Lady bugs and damsel flies in the Pavilion of Dreams, a genie in a magic lamp, twirling ribbons for the Mirlitons, a playful Chinese dragon, Fabergé eggs for the Russians and a dancing bear are all special touches that make this particular performance of the timeless classic stand out. The hours of practice that must have gone into the Mirlitons and the Russians were obviously well spent and the height attained by the lead Russian dancer's leaps is reminiscent of my wife's skill when she undertook the same role many years ago. She specialized in the character dances of Act II and choreographed several different routines to that music. Nonetheless, she was thoroughly impressed with the San Francisco Ballet's renditions.

Finally, bringing out the dream dancers and having them swirl around the stage was a clever technique to disguise the entrance of Clara and Drostlemeyer before he banished them to mere memories and restored the house to its former state.

On the technical side, the sets were excellently done with meticulous attention to details found in the fashions of the period and their movement was perfectly coordinated with the backdrop changes. Particularly interesting were the motorized carriages for Madame de Circe and Clara's settee. The latter appeared to be remotely controlled while the former seemed to be directed by on-board hand controls. In addition to these was the use of costumes for the stagehands in Act II so that they became a part of the scene as they repositioned the various set elements.

Altogether, this was an excellently conceived and executed performance of Tchaikowsky's Nutcracker and would have made him proud of what he reputedly had called "the worst thing I've ever written."

(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

I would buy this product again and again

By Flodey

from San Diego, Ca.

Verified Buyer

Comments about PBS Great Performances: Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker (San Francisco Ballet) DVD:

It's the best version I've ever seen.

(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Best since Baryshnikov

By The CountryGirl Gourmet

from Winston-Salem, NC

Verified Reviewer

Comments about PBS Great Performances: Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker (San Francisco Ballet) DVD:

I have thoroughly enjoyed this version of The Nutcracker. I am a big fan of the Baryshnikov version from the 1970's that I saw as a child, but this one is great. I love the company's interpretation of this wonderful ballet that never seems to grow old. Oh, if you watch this on your PBS station, you will see Kristi Yamaguchi hosting (or at least that is what I've seen when I watch it on my local PBS station).

(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

San Francisco Ballet Nutcracker Inspires

By Lady Laraine

from Los Angeles

Verified Buyer

Comments about PBS Great Performances: Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker (San Francisco Ballet) DVD:

This classic performance of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" not only is entertaining to the senses, but inspiring and uplifting to the heart. It's set in the city of San Francisco circa 1915, and from its captivating, magical beginning (including a series of thrilling dances by a "toy" ballerina, jack-in-the-box, and other traditional toys that come alive on Christmas Eve), to its sequence of Spanish, French, Arabian, and Chinese dances, this ballet performance will hold you and your children mesmerized throughout its entire performance.
Damian Smith's portrayal of a somewhat-eccentric, mysterious, yet lovable Uncle Drosselmeyer is unique and memorable. Elizabeth Powell's portrayal of the darling, youthful Clara is poised and heart-warming as well.
The dancing in this DVD is also memorable and outstanding, with dances ranging from the classic ballet performance of the "Waltz of the Sugar Plum Fairy" (Vanessa Zahorian) to the enthralling, breathtaking Grand Pas de Deux between beautiful prima ballerina Maria Kochetkova and her Nutcracker Prince (Davit Karapetyan).
My children, at age five, were somewhat afraid of the Nutcracker Mice (and Mouse King) upon the first view of this DVD, but quickly overcame their fear, and have grown to love and cherish this enchanting holiday classic that has become an annual tradition in our family.

 
5.0

Wonderful! Highlights the whole group!!!

By livingfragrance

from North St Paul, MN

Verified Buyer

Comments about PBS Great Performances: Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker (San Francisco Ballet) DVD:

This brilliant presentation of the The Nutcracker is not only wonderful entertainment but truly encompasses the whole San Francisco Ballet group instead of highlighting only an individual. I love this show and will for years to come and share with my family and friends.

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