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 Electric Picture (3)

Sunday
Apr072013

Stravinsky Firebird & Rite of Spring and Debussy L'Apres-midi d'un faune

Stravinsky Firebird & Rite of Spring and Debussy L'Apres-midi d'un faune concert. Paavo Järvi conducts the Orchestra of Paris (Concert Master Philippe Aïche) in 2012 at Salle Playel in Paris. TV directors were Sébastian Glas and Corentin Leconte; produced by Sabrina Iwanski. Released 2013, disc has 5.1 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
Sep122012

La Bohème (Sølberg)

Giacomo Puccini La Bohème opera to libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. Directed 2012 by Stefan Herheim at the Oslo Opera House. Stars Diego Torre (Rodolfo), Vasilij Ladjuk (Marcello), Marita Sølberg (Mimì), Jennifer Rowley (Musetta), Giovanni Battista Parodi (Colline), Espen Langvik (Schaunard) and Svein Erik Sagbråten (Benoit/Parpignol/Alcindoro/Toll Gate Keeper/Death). Eivind Gullberg Jensen conducts the Norwegian National Opera Orchestra, Norwegian National Opera Chorus, and Norwegian National Opera Children’s Chorus. Set and costume design by Heike Scheele; lighting design by Anders Poll; dramaturgy by Alexander Meier-Dörzenbach; directed for TV by Stein-Roger Bull; produced by NordicStories AS. Released 2012, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound.  Grade: B+

Gordon Smith showed this to his friends on the  L'OperaDou Jury. Here are edited portions of his report:

All  the jury members knew this opera well from traditional stagings.  So this radically updated production of La Bohème from Oslo made a major impact on them.  The sense of surprise – and even of shock – was almost palpable. All of them said this was the most memorable production of the work they had ever seen! They also spoke with a single voice when it came to the singing, commending “the very high all-round vocal standard.”

The “transposition” drew criticism from some Jury members with (1) having Mimì die in a hospital intensive care ward (of cancer) at the beginning of the opera and (2) having the presence of death appear in various guises later as Rodolfo then remembers his time with Mimì. This aspect of the production resulted in quite a passionate debate. Isn't that what opera is all about! 

Comments from OperaDou Jury members: 

“I very much liked this mixture of the fantastic (evoking Tim Burton and James Ensor) and romanticism. The orchestra and singers are perfectly in line with this. I gradually got involved and was very moved — although not immediately.”

“Surprising staging – to say the least! Makes it less romantic than a conventional production; but on the other hand, it comes across as more realistic and powerful. I was much more moved by the second half. Interpretation and singing first class. Beautiful images, very well filmed – and the sound was vivid and realistic.”

“Highly original. A way of presenting a well known opera in a modern way. This approach draws us into the suffering of terminal illness and the medical care that goes with it. The scenes where we see the hospital bed or the patients help us understand the torments of Rodolfo.  He loves Mimì while suffering as he sees her  illness and fearing her death and the inevitable separation.“

“Beautiful music making. The voices of Mimì and Rodolfo are magnificent, even if Rodolfo’s acting isn’t always as good as his singing. The staging is rather unsettling but very well done.”

“Clever staging presents the all-pervading fear of death that hangs over our existence.  The production admirably combines the theme of discovery of love with that of the relentlessness of death.”  

The Jury and Gordon gave this a  "B+". Thanks again to Gordon and his friends for their many contributions to this website!

Wednesday
Sep052012

Arabella

Strauss Arabella opera to a libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Directed 2012 by Sven-Eric Bechtolf at the Vienna State Opera. Stars Emily Magee, Genia Kühmeier, Tomasz Konieczny, Michael Schade, Wolfgang Bankl, and Zoryana Kushpler. Franz Welser-Möst conducts the Orchestra, Chorus, and Stage Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera. Set design by Rolf Glittenberg; costume design by Marianne Glittenberg, TV direction by Don Kent. Sung in German with subtitles in 7 languages. Released 2012, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio Sound. Grade: Help!

Electric Pictures states on the Blu-ray keepcase that Arabella is a problematical work becaust Hugo von Hofmannsthal died before he could finish the libretto. But the claim is made that Sven-Eric Bechtolf came up with a "superbly convincing" version that resolves ambiguites left by Hofmannsthal.

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