Here's news about high-definition video recordings of opera, ballet, classical music, plays, fine-art documentaries, and paintings. I call these recordings "HDVDs." In the journal below are independent (and hard-to-find critical) reports on hundreds of HDVDs. Pick the best titles for your excelsisphere.

October 15. We are getting again into symphony titles and the existential issue of DVDitis. I just posted a story on a Mahler 2 recording at the Gewandhaus that might be considered DOA from the dread plague.

I recently put up a story about the 3rd version (!) of the same Giselle production published by Opus Arte. I recently posted a story about the Ekman Midsummer Night's Dream ballet (which has nothing to do with Shakespeare). I also just posted two stories about Shakespeare's The Tempest. The first is a definitive stage play version by the RSC. The second is an updated review of The Tempest movie staring Helen Mirren as Prospera (the female version of Prospero). The movie is streamlined - try it first. Then move on to the RSC "real deal", which is probably the best The Tempest ever made for home viewing.

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Monday
Sep112017

Midori Plays Bach

Midori Plays Bach Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin (BWV 1001-1006), recorded 2016 at the German Castle in Köthen (Anhalt) where Bach composed this cornerstone music. These are all the Bach sonatas and partitas for violin, called by famous violinist Georges Enescu "The Himalayas of violinists":

1. Sonata No. 1 in G minor BWV 1001
2. Partita No. 1 in B minor BWV 1002
3. Sonata No. 2 in A minor BWV 1003
4. Partita No. 2 in D minor BWV 1004
5. Sonata No. 3 in C major BWV 1005
6. Partita No. 3 in E major BWV 1006 

Directed for TV by Andreas Morell; produced by Paul Smaczny. Released 2017, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: Help!

Anhalt is where Bach composed many famous secular works including BWV 1001-1006, the Brandenburg concertos, and the Well-Tempered Clavier. Here's a pretty official clip with Midori playing and speaking in English with German subtitles:

Monday
Sep112017

Tosca

Puccini Tosca opera to libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. Directed 2017 by Philipp Himmelmann at the Easter Festival in Baden-Baden. Stars Kristine Opolais Floria (Tosca), Marcelo Álvarez Mario (Cavaradossi), Marco Vratogna (Baron Scarpia), Alexander Tsymbalyuk (Cesare Angelotti), Peter Rose (Il Sagrestano), Peter Tantsits (Spoletta), Douglas Williams (Sciarrone), and Walter Fink (Un carceriere). Sir Simon Rattle conducts the Berliner Philharmoniker, Philharmonia Chor Wien (Chorus Masters Walter Zeh and Anette Schneider), and Cantus Juvenum Karlsruhe. Set design by Raimund Bauer; costume design by Kathi Maurer. Executive Producer was Alexander Pereira. Released 2017, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: Help!

Preliminary info here needs confirmation and  completion. If you have seen this, please help us with a mini-review of this title!

Monday
Sep112017

La Grande Danza

La Grande Danza: Aterballetto dance compilation. Triple bill of dances performed 2017 by the Aterballeto Dance Company at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan. All performances directed for TV by Andreas Morell. The dances are as follows:

1. Words and Space. Choreography by Jiří Pokorny. Music by Georg Friedrich Händel. Sound design by Sawaki Yukari; costumes by Carolina Mancuso; sets and lighting by Carlo Cerri.

2. Narcissus. Choreography by Giuseppe Spota. Music by Joby Talbot. Costume design by Francesca Messori; sets and lighting by Carlo Cerri; on-stage video designs by OOOPStudio.

3. Phoenix. Choreography by Philippe Kratz. Music by Borderline Order. Costume design by Costanza Maramotti; sets and lighting by Carlo Cerri.

Released 2017, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio. Grade: Help!

Please help us by writing a comment that we can place here as a mini-review of this title.

Here is a short clip of Narcissus which shows some of OOOPStudio's projected video work:

Friday
Sep082017

The Art of Svetlana Zakharova

The Art of Svetlana Zakharova 4 Disc Set released 2017. Below are the discs for four ballets featuring Svetlana Zakarova at the Bolshoi. Each of these has already been reported on this website, and you can get more details by using the links provided:

1. Swan Lake. Tchaikovsky. 2015. (Grade: D+)

2. flare La Bayadère. Minkus. 2013. (Grade: A+)

3. flare The Sleeping Beauty. Tchaikovsky. 2012. (Grade: A+)

4. La fille du pharaon. Pugni. 2010. (Grade: A)

Probably the only reason to buy this Swan Lake would be to have the Zakharova performance. Also note that this title overlaps the similar Art of David Hallberg in that both boxes have the same The Sleeping Beauty disc.

Thursday
Sep072017

The Art of David Hallberg 

The Art of David Hallberg 2 Disc Set released 2017. Below are the discs for two ballets featuring David Hallberg at the Bolshoi. Both have already been reported on this website, and you can get more details by using the links provided:

1. Marco Spada. Daniel-François-Esprit Auber. 2014. (Grade: A+)

2. flare The Sleeping Beauty. Tchaikovsky. 2012. (Grade: A+)

Hard to image a more delightful 2-disc combo than this one. We have compelling reviews up for each of these titles. With any sort of discount this combo pack becomes irresistible. 

But note this title is similar to the Art of Svetlasa Zakharova box in that both boxes have the same The Sleeping Beauty disc.

Thursday
Sep072017

The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker ballet. Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Choreographed by Peter Wright after Lev Ivanov. Performed and filmed 2016. Stars Francesca Hayward (Clara),  Alexander Campbell (Nutcracker), Gary Avis (Drosselmeyer), Lauren Cuthbertson (Sugar Plum Fairy), and Federico Bonelli (The Prince). Boris Gruzin conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Designs by  Julia Trevelyan Oman; lighting by Mark Henderson. Released 2017, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound output. Grade: Help!

Limited preliminary information is confusing and needs confirmation and completion.

We did a detailed review of this same production (with an earlier set of star dancers) in 2013. I gave it a B and declared it not competitive with stronger competition. I went on to say, "The Peter Wright production could be competitive again if the Royal Ballet would revive it with new sets and costumes, drill the female corps more thoroughly, write new comedy dances, and make a clean, bright video." Now we get opportunity to see if the Royal Ballet has updated this show and improved the video.

If you have seen this 2016 show, please help us by writing a comment.

Wednesday
Sep062017

Don Quixote

Don Quixote ballet. Music by Ludwig Minkus arranged and orchestrated by John Lanchbery. Choreographed by Rudolf Nureyev. Staged 2016 by Manuel Legris at the Wiener Staatsballett. Stars Maria Yakovleva (Kitri/Dulcinea), Denys Cherevychko (Basilio), Ketevan Papava (A Street Dancer), Roman Lazik (Espada), Olga Esina (The Queen of the Dryads), and Kiyoka Hashimoto (Amor). Kevin Rhodes conducts the Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper. Stage direction by Rudolf Nureyev; set and costume design by Nicholas Georgiadis; lighting design by Marc Anrochte; video direction by Michael Beyer. Released 2017, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: Help!

Please help us by writing a comment that we can place here as a mini-review of this title.

Wednesday
Sep062017

Lucio Silla

Mozart Lucio Silla opera to libretto by Giovanni de Gamerra. Directed 2016 by Marshall Pynkoski at the Teatro alla Scala. Stars Kresimir Spicer (Lucio Silla), Lenneke Ruiten (Giunia), Marianne Crebassa (Cecilio), Inga Kalna (Lucio Cinna), and Giulia Semenzato (Celia). Makhar Vaziev directs the Ballet Company of Teatro alla Scala. Also features musicians Francesco Corti (Cembalo), Simone Groppo (Violoncello), and Pino Ettorre (Contrabasso) Marc Minkowski conducts the Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro alla Scala (Chorus Master Bruno Casoni). Choreography by Jeannette Lajeunesse Zingg; stage and costume design by Antoine Fontaine; lighting design by Hervé Gary; video direction by Arnalda Canali. Released 2017, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: Help!

Please help us with a comment about or a review of this title!

Wednesday
Sep062017

Norma

Bellini Norma opera to libretto by Felice Romani. Directed at the Arena Sferisterio in 2016 by Luigi Di Gangi and Ugo Giacomazzi (with assistant Luca Mazzei) as part of the Macerata Opera Festival. Stars Rubens Pelizzari (Pollione), Nicola Ulivieri (Oroveso), Maria José Siri (Norma), Sonia Ganassi (Adalgisa), Rosanna Lo Greco (Clotilde), and Manuel Pierattelli (Flavio). Michele Gamba conducts the Fondazione Orchestra Regionale delle Marache, the Coro Lirico Marchigiana "Vincenzo Bellini" (Chorus Master Carlo Morganti), and the Complesso di palcoscenico Banda "Salvadei" (stage band). Set design by Federica Parolini (with assistant Eleonora De Leo); costume design by Daniela Cernigliaro (with assistant Agnese Rabatti); lighting design by Luigi Biondi.  Directed for TV by Tiziano Mancini. Released 2017, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: Help!

Here's the official Dynamic trailer:

(I think we have the correct artwork now. At first, Dynamic showed the same artwork on both the front and back of the keepcase.)

Friday
Sep012017

Carmen (Arquez)

Georges Bizet Carmen opera to libretto by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy. Directed 2017 by Kasper Holten at the Bregenz Festival (lake stage). Stars Gaëlle Arquez (Carmen), Daniel Johansson (Don José), Scott Hendricks (Escamilio), Elena Tsallagova (Micaëla), Jana Baumeister (Frasquita), Marion Lebègue (Mercédès), Sébastien Soules (Zuniga), Rafael Fingerlos (Moralès), Simeon Esper (Remendado), and Dariusz Perczak (Dancaïre). Paolo Carignani conducts the Wiener Symphoniker, Bregenz Festival Choir, Prague Philharmonic Choir, and the Children's Choir of Musikmittelschule Bregenz-Stadt. Stage design by Es Devlin; video design by Luke Halls; costume design by Anja Vang Kragh, lighting design by Bruno Poet; video direction by Felix Breisach. Released in 2017, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: Help!

Find out how to tell your fortune in the water. See the cards that poor Carmen turned over, and then see Carmen drown! There's a bunch of clips on YouTube showing dancers splashing around, but none seem to be official from C Major.

Es Devlin, the famous designer, is a better thief (of shows) than Carmen, Remendado, and Dancaïre put together. So here are a couple of clips (one from C Major) focusing on Es and her stage as the star. All this reminds us that shows at massive outdoor venues are a lot of fun to go with your picnic, but they don't necessarily make good videos for home viewing.

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