- Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
- Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
- Resolution: 1080i/60
- Audio Codec: PCM 2.0, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- Subtitles: German, French
- Region: ABC (Region-Free)
- Rating: Not Rated
- Discs: 1
- Studio: C Major
- Blu-ray Release Date: November 15, 2011
- List Price: $39.99
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(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)
John Neumeier’s adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson story, The Little Mermaid, is very far removed from the innocuous and charming Disney cartoon. In essence, it tells of a young Mermaid who seeks to become human, yet at story’s end, fails in her quest. However, she is given immortality by the poet who has created the characters of a tale that will live forever in the minds of its countless readers.
This 2011 San Francisco Ballet production features the superb ballerina Yuan Yuan Tan in the title role, supported by Lloyd Riggins as the Poet, Tiit Helmets (the prince), Sarah van Patten (the princess) and Davit Karapetyan (the sea witch). There is an appropriate bluish cast to most of the underwater scenes. The choreography is mixture of classic and modernist dance routines, carried out with panache by the strong cast. The score is definitely 21st century with a strong oriental influence. Periodically, I heard Leonard Bernstein moments, but Lera Auerbach’s music is otherwise mildly derivative. The overall effect of this new ballet is unendingly fascinating, no mesmerizing.
There is superb coverage of the dancers, with a great balance between close up and distant shots. The colors, such as they are, in a generally dark set, are set off by their brilliance. The sequence in which the mermaid gets her legs is nothing short of sensational videography. The plasticity of Yuan Yuan Tan is captured brilliantly by the camera and never ceases to amaze. Ballet should be beautiful and, I am happy to report, this is no exception.
The soundtrack in DTS- HD Master Audio 5.1 is well done with presence and definition. There is very subtle surround information. The PCM 2.0 alternative is excellent.
The Definitive Word
New ballets, such as The Little Mermaid, are certainly welcome events in the dance world. One has to put aside everything about this story that has gone before since Neumeier’s concept is radically different yet quite effective in its realization. There is a sensuality to the choreography that should probably create a “PG” rating. However, as I remember Andersen’s tale, it has significant love approaching lust within its borders as well. This retelling through dance is quite close to those themes and, similarly, effective. As a brand new work, there is no telling what its place in the repertoire will become. I did think that the first act was a bit long and that the score needed a bit more variation and less basso ostinato. These reservations aside, the choreography bordered on brilliant. Ms Tan’s realization of the title role left nothing to be desired. Ballet fans, buy this one for yourselves, and show it to the kids when they graduate from high school or, better yet, when they are old enough to vote.
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