Firebird: La Péri

3-star rating
PCVR, Link
Art, Music
Comfortable, Roomscale

Polygon image of a woman on pointe, on a stage surrounded by flying embers.

From 1912, La Péri was the last composition by French composer Paul Dukas, who described his piece as 'a dance poem in one scene'. Most will know Dukas from The Sorcerer's Apprentice which later featured heavily in Disney's Fantasia, but there's little reason why La Péri shouldn't be equally revered.

This modern retelling of La Péri's story with modern technology remains stage-bound; and this is where the scene opens when you put on your headset. From your position on the stage, machinery manipulates pieces of set into place around you and a pedestal appears, topped off with a book. Turn the pages of the book as John Rhys Davies narrates the tale of Iskender (Alexander the Great) searching for immortality and stealing it from a winged spirit of Persian culture.

A book on a pedestal, on a stage. Looking out over an audience.
John Rhys Davis adds narration and voiceover to the spectacle.

Much of the spectacle of this experience centrally revolves around you. Not only are you center stage, but manifestations of the winged spirit move about you including some spectacularly rendered motion-capture ballet dancing. These occur in short sequences interspersed by moments of book narration that place you back onto an empty stage again. On occasion you'll be tasked with an action, such as plucking lotus petals from La Péri's chest, but we found these interactions didn't add much to our enjoyment. In fact they distracted us from the animation, since it was unclear when to interact and when to spectate.

Enjoying key moments are important in this experience as there are regrettably few of them. Few also are the moments that Dukas' music accompanies this presentation - in fact we can only recall a few short minutes worth, with the rest of the production focusing on narration and far too many scene transitions. These are the reasons we're awarding a lower score for Firebird - La Péri despite its impressive brief ballet sequences.

Female figure in an icescape, arms outstretched with four red petals glowing from her chest.
Lotus petals are the key to immortality for Iskender.

✅ Spectacular but brief motion-capture ballet performances.
✅ Good production values.
❌ Minimal use of Dukas' musical score.
❌ Distracting interactive elements.

• YouTube: Trailer
• YouTube: Paul Dukas' La Peri
• Languages: English, French, Mandarin
• Facebook: Comment on this article

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