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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Entries in C Major (169)

Monday
Oct022017

Le nozze di Figaro

Mozart Le nozze di Figaro opera to libretto by Lorenza da Ponte. New production directed 2016 by Frederic Wake-Walker at the Teatro alla Scala. Stars Carlos Álvarez (Il Conte d'Almaviva), Diana Damrau (La Contessa d'Almaviva), Golda Schultz (Susanna), Markus Werba (Figaro), Marianne Crebassa (Cherubino), Anna Maria Chiuri (Marcellina), Andrea Concetti (Bartolo / Antonio), Kresimir Spicer (Basilio / Don Curzio), Theresa Zisser (Barbarina), Francesca Manzo (Prima contadina), and Kristín Sveinsdóttir (Seconda Contadina). Franz Welser-Möst conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro alla Scala (Chorus Master Bruno Casoni). Basso continuo: James Vaughan (piano) and Simone Groppo (cello). Stage and costume design by Antony McDonald; lighting design by Fabiana Piccioli. Directed for video by Patrizia Carmine. Released 2017, has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: Help!

Here's the official trailer for the production (may vary a bit from the video recording):

 

Monday
Oct022017

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet ballet. Music by Sergei Prokofiev. Libretto by Leonid Lavrovsky and Sergei Prokofiev. Staged 2017 at the Teatro alla Scala with choreography by Kenneth MacMillan revived by Julie Lincoln. Stars Roberto Bolle (Romeo); Misty Copeland (Juliet); Antonino Sutera (Mercutio); Mick Zeni (Tybalt); Marco Agostino (Benvolio); Riccardo Massimi (Paris); Alessandro Grillo (Lord Capulet); Emanuela Montanari (Lady Capulet); Luigi Saruggia (The Duke); Chiara Borgia (Rosaline); Monica Vaglietti (Nurse); Matthew Endicott (Friar Lawrence); Christian Fagetti (Mandolin solo); Virna Toppi, Denise Gazzo, and Beatrice Carbone (Three Gypsies); Giuseppe Conte (Lord Montague); Francesca Podini (Lady Montague); Vittoria Valerio, Agnese di Clemente, Marta Gerani, Danieal Cavalleri, Chiara Fiandra, and Alessandrea Vassallo (Six Friends of Juliet); and dancers from the Ballet Company of Teatro alla Scala. Patrick Fournillier conducts the Orchestra of Teatro alla Scala. Set design by Mauro Carosi; costume design by Odette Nicoletti; lighting design by Marco Filibeck. Video direction by Lorena Sardi. Released 2017, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: Help!

There are lots of bootleg items on YouTube, but here's the official C Major clip:

 

Friday
Sep292017

Die Walküre

Wagner Die Walküre. Directed 2017 by Vera Nemirova at Großes Festpielhaus in Salzburg. Stars Peter Seiffert (Sigmund), Georg Zeppenfeld (Hunding), Vitalij Kowaljow (Wotan), Anja Harteros (Sieglinde), Anja Kampe (Brünnhilde), Christa Mayer (Fricka), Johanna Winkel (Gerhilde), Brit-tone Müllertz (Ortlinde), Christa Bock (Waltraude), Katharina Magiera (Schwertleite), Alexandra Petersamer (Helmwige), Stepanka Pucalkova (Siegrune), Katrin Wundsam (Grimgerde), and Simone Schróder (Roßweiße). Christian Thielemann conducts the Staatskapelle Dresden. Set design by Günter Schneider-Siemssen; costume design by Jens Kilian; lighting design by Olaf Freese; video by rocafilm; video direction by Tiziano Mancini. Released 2017, disc has and 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.

Sunday
Sep242017

Elbphilharmonie Hamburg: Grand Opening Concert

Elbphilharmonie Hamburg: Grand Opening Concert. This unique title celebrates the opening of the new über-world-class concert hall in Hamburg, Germany---the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg---with a challenging musical evening and a documentary about the amazing building. In early 2017, Thomas Hengelbrock conducts the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, the Ensemble Praetorius, the NDR Choir (chorus master Philipp Ahmann), and the Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks (chorus master Howard Arman). The Ensemble Praetorius includes: sopranos Ágnes Kovács and Alice Borciani, tenors Mirko Ludwig and Jakob Pilgram, bass-bariton Thilo Dahlann, and Michele Pasotti on theorbo. They are supported (from the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra)  by Roland Greutter and Stefan Pintev on violin as well as Stepan Geiger, Uwe Schrodi, and Uwe Leonbacher on trombone (playing early instruments).

Here is the program, most of which is new in Blu-ray. Mercifully, there apparently was not one spoken word at the concert. All the music was played straight thru with applause only at the intermission break and at the end:

1. Benjamin Britten: "Pan" from Six Metamorphoses after Ovid for solo oboe, Op. 49 (Kalev Kuljus oboe)
2. Henri Dutilleux: "Appels, Échos, et Prismes" from Mystère de l'Instant
3. Emilio De' Cavalieri: "Dalle piu alte sfere" from La Pellegrina (Philippe Jaroussky countertenor and Margret Köll harp)
4. Bernd Alois Zimmermann: Photoptosis / Prelude for large orchestra (Iveta Apkalna organ)
5. Jacob Praetorius: " Quam pulchra es" / Motette for 5 voices and Basso continuo (Ensamble Praetorius)
6. Rolf Liebermann: Furioso (Ya-ou Xie piano)
7. Giulio Caccini: "Amarilli mia bella" from Le nuove muische (Philippe Jaroussky countertenor and Margret Köll harp)
8. Olivier Messiaen: Finale from Turangalîla-Symphonie (Ya-ou Xie piano and Thomas Bloch ondes martenot)
Intermission
9. Richard Wagner: Prelude to Parsifal
10. Wolfgang Rihm: Reminiszenz Triptychon und Spruch in memoriam Hans Henny Jahnn (Pavol Breslik tenor and Iveta Apkalna organ)
11. Ludwig von Beethoven: Fourth Movement  form Symphony No. 9 in D minor (Hanna-Elisabeth Müller soprano,  Wiebke Lehmkuhl alto, Pavol Breslik tenor, Sir Bryn Terfel bass)

The concert runs 112 minutes and is directed for video by Henning Kasten. There is also a 53-minute documentary by Thorsten Mack and Annette Schmaltz about the architecture of the new hall. Released 2017, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A-

When I started HDVDarts.com in 2007, I expected we would have Blu-ray titles on architecture to enjoy. But this hasn't happened---to my knowledge, there has been not a single Blu-ray published on architecture. But now we have a 53-minute bonus extra, shot mostly in HD, included in this title about the development of the Elbphilharmonie structure. So I divide this review into two segments: (1) the building and (2) the opening concert.

The Building

The new Elbphilharmonie is probably the only multi-purpose skyscraper symphony hall on earth. The first picture below (from photographer Michael Zapf) is the prettiest single image I've seen of the project. The building is on an island in the busy Hamburg port area. In the background you see that the north side of the Elbe river (where the city center is located) is rife with new development. I think this image of the building actually shows the "rear" of the Elbphilharmonie. The white machines are cranes that were used when the base building was a warehouse; they were preserved as reminder of the origins of the project:

On the south bank, one still sees major industrial works supported by Germany's most important harbor:

Below another view of the north bank of the Elbe showing part of the center city. This was taken during construction. The white cranes had been temporarily removed:

The next image below shows a drawing of the the building from what I think is it's front (seen from the north or land side). The base of the building is the shell of an obsolete brick warehouse (that was gutted to the exterior walls). There are meeting rooms and utility areas in the base building.  Visitors ride the world's largest curved escalator from the edge of the waters to a large and permanently open public area used for viewing the town center and the harbor. On top of the old structure is the new "glass crown" of the building. The crown holds a great symphony hall (up to 2,500 seats), smaller spaces for chamber music and recitals, rehearsal rooms, the symphony offices, an hotel, and (at the building's highest area) condominium apartments. Although the top is seen as a crown, it's really a design inspired by waves on the water. Thus the building is a marriage of many opposites: old and new; land and the waters, coarseness and refinement; ancient crafts and modern technology; commercial and residential life; industrial grit and artistic polish. It's a public building with something for everyone and a seat of power for wealthy patrons of the arts:

Next below is a shot of the Great Hall from its rear. This vineyard style auditorium is similar to but more refined than the Berlin Philharmonic hall. The huge circular sound reflector suspended from the ceiling spreads the sound of the orchestra to all points in the room.

The opening concert was the hottest ticket ever in Hamburg, so management came up with a way to appease those who couldn't get a seat --- the damnedest spectacular light show you ever saw painted on and simultaneously shining out of a building---all coordinated with the concert being played inside the Great Hall and ending with the salutation "Hello World":

Now let's delve a bit deeper into the origins and details of the building. In 2001, the idea was floated that a symphony hall could be built within the walls of the old brick warehouse. But visionary city leaders soon dreamed of something more glamorous. By 2007, the cornerstone was laid for the grand conception of a glass crown to be erected over the earthen base of bricks:

Yasuhisa Toyota of Japan was hired to handle the design and acoustics of the Great Hall. But there could be no guaranties. The development of of symphony hall is always a gamble:

 

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Sep122017

Winterreise

Franz Schubert Winterreise concert recorded 2015 at the Festival d'Aix-de-Provence. Features bartione Matthias Goerne, pianist Markus Hinterhäuser, and visual artist William Kentridge. Also includes documentary, A Trio for Schubert, with interviews with all three featured artists. Video direction by Christian Leblé. Released 2017, disc has PCM stereo sound. Grade: Help!

We usually exclude opera or dance titles with only stereo sound. But we do make exceptions for classical music for soloists when the recording otherwise has some special merit. Here we have a famous tenor with piano accompaniment only,  the program is supported by unusual and original video art, and all this was offered live at the famous Aix-en-Provence summer festival. If you have seen this live or in the Blu-ray, please give us your opinion!

Here's a clip from this production showing the art of William Kentridge for "The Raven" from Part 2:


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!

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.

Monday
Aug072017

I due Foscari

Verdi i due Foscari opera to a libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. Directed by Alvis Hermanis in 2016 at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan. Frédéric Olivieri directs soloists of the Academy and students of the Ballet Academy of Teatro alla Scala. Stars Plácido Domingo (Francesco Foscari), Francesco Meli (Jacopo Foscari), Anna Pirozzi (Lucrezia Contarini), Andrea Concetti  (Jacopo Loredano), Edoardo Miletti (Barbarigo), Chiara Isotton (Pisana), Azer Rza-Fade (Fante), and Modestas Sedlevičius (Servant of the Dodge). Michelle Mariotti conducts the Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala (Chorus Master Bruno Casoni).  Stage and set designs by Alvis Hermanis; costume design by Kristīne Jurjāne; lighting by Gleb Filshtinksy; choreography by Alla Sigalova; video designs by Ineta Sipunova; dramatic advisor was Olivier Lexa. Directed for TV by Tiziano Manchini. Released 2017, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: Help!

I could only find one clip in  HD, and it comes from alla Scala, not from C Major:

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

Thursday
Jul132017

Hamlet

Franco Faccio Hamlet opera to libretto by Arrigo Boito (the libretto is in Italian and the real name is Amleto). Directed 2016 by Olivier Tambosi at the Bregenz Festival. Stars Pavel Černoch (Amleto), Claudio Sgura (Claudio), Eduard Tsanga (Polonio), Sébastien Soules (Orazio), Bartosz Urbanowicz (Marcello), Paul Schweinester (Laerte), Iulia Maria Dan (Ofelia), Dshamilja Kaiser (Gertrude), Gianluca Buratto (The Ghost/A Priest), Jonathan Winell (King Gonzaga/A Herald), Sabine Winter (The Queen), Yasushi Hirano (Luciano/First Gravedigger), and Hans-Jorg Ulm (Second Gravedigger). Paolo Carignani conducts the Wiener Symphoniker and the Prague Philharmonic Choir (Chorus Master Lukáš Vasilek). Set design by Frank Philipp Schlößmann; costume design by Gesine Völlm; lighting design by Davy Cunningham; choreography by Ran Arthur Braun; directed for TV by Felix Breisach. Released 2017, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: Help!

Another lost opera soul is redeemed by the Bregenz Festival for all the world to enjoy! Here are some images from the production (not subject title disc) that tell you what all the excitement was about.

The Prince:

The mad girl Ofelia:

The play within the play---pop goes the poison:

H'm. To be or not to be?

This certainly looks good. And the critics were wild about this last summer when they saw this live.

Next below are a couple of clips from the TV show that are probably the same as subject disc. The clips are sung in Italian. These subtitles are in German. The first clip is in fact the "To be, or not to be" soliloquy. The second clip is the scene where Hamlet confronts his mother and kills Polonius:

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

 

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