Here's news about high-definition video disc ("HDVD") recordings of opera, ballet, classical music, plays, performance art, and paintings. We've got hard-to-find critical reports on hundreds of HDVDs. Pick the best titles for your excelsisphere.
June 3. We continue to port the website from Squarespace5 (best on desktop) to SS7, which looks good on mobile devices and the desktop. On the new homepage, you see 14 large "tiles" with the most recent stories. These 14 stories are native SS7. To see earlier stories, go to the Alphalist or Search. Desktop users should find old stories look about the same. If you are using a mobile device, there may be some "fit and finish" issues until we complete the conversion.
We estimate we are about 50 percent finished with the raw conversion. This process takes time as there are many images and PDFs that have to be imported individually. But we are making process! We expect to be finished with "convert'n" by the end of July. After that point, fit and finish will be our priority.
There seems to be a slow down in the number of new titles from publishers the last few months. It could just be that many projects were rushed to come out in the 2017 holiday season. Or it could be that publishers are stating to take a more "wait and see" approach when it comes to gaging future demand for optical discs (vs. streaming services).
We lament that Oppo is withdrawing from manufacturing disc playing machines --- not a vote of confidence in the Blu-ray disc! On the other hand, it appears the large Japanese consumer electronic makers plan to continue supporting Blu-ray.
Puccini La Fanciulla del West opera to a libretto by Guelfo Civinini and Carlo Zangarini. Directed 2017 by Hugo de Ana. Stars Emily Magee (Minnie), Roberto Aronica (Dick Johnson), Claudio Sgura (Jack Rance), Bruno Lazzaretti (Nick), John Paul Huckle (Ashby), Gianfranco Montresor (Sonora), Paolo Orecchia (Sid), Antonello Ceron (Trin), Tommaso Barea (Bello), Orlando Polidoro (Harry), Enrico Cossutta (Joe), Ivan Marino (Happy), Donato Di Gioia (Larkens), Enrico Marchesini (Billy Jackrabbit), Alessandra Visentin (Wowkle), Carlo Checchi (Jake Wallace), Francesco Musinu (José Castro), and Armando Valentino (Un Postiglione). Juraj Valčuha conducts the Orchestra e Coro del Teatro di San Carlo (Chorus Master Marco Faelli). Sets and costumes by Hugo de Ana; lighting by Vinicio Cheli; video direction by Tiziano Mancini. Released in 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Verdi Il trovatore opera to libretto by Salvadore Cammarano and Leone Emanuele Bardare. Directed 2017 by David Bösch. Stars Lianna Haroutounian (Leonora), Gregory Kunde (Manrico), Anita Rachvelishvili (Azucena), Vitaliy Bilyy (Luna), and Alexander Tsymbalyuk (Ferrando). Richard Farnes conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and the Royal Opera Chorus. Set design by Patrick Bannwart; costume design by Meentje Nielsen. Released in 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Shakespeare Julius Caesar play. Directed 2017 by Angus Jackson at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Stars Joseph Adelakun (Artemidorus/Dardanus/Cobbler), Ben Allen (Cinna the Conspirator/Titinius), Kristin Atherton (Calpurnia/Citizen), David Burnett (Murullus/Trebonius/Pindarus/Citizen), James Corrigan (Mark Antony), Paul Dodds (Metellus Cimber/Clitus), Patrick Drury (Publius/Cinna the Poet), Waleed Elgadi (Claudius/Volumnius/Soothsayer), Martin Hutson (Cassius), Samuel Littell (Lucius), Tom Lorcan (Citizen), Luke MacGregor (Popilius Lena/Strato/Carpenter), Tom McCall (Casca/Lucilius), Hannah Morrish (Portia), Anthony Ofoegbu (Cicero/Ligarius/Varro), Dharmesh Patel (Decius Brutus/Messala/Citizen), Lucy Phelps (Citizen), Jon Tarcy (Octavius Caesar), Alex Waldmann (Brutus), Marcello Walton (Flavius/Lepidus), and Andrew Woodall (Julius Caesar). Also stars Brandon Dodsworth, Kevin Greaves, Norma Julius, Natalis Koulombis, Jacq MacDonald, Shiv Sharma, Rosanna Thornwood, and Laura Wynter as Citizens of Rome.
Ingmar Bergman –Through the Choreographer's Eye dance film directed and produced by Fredrik Stattin in July 2016 as part of the Bergman Week Festival. Features four short dance pieces (51 minutes total) inspired by the films of Ingmar Bergman and recorded on the Swedish island of Fårö at an dilapidated airplane hanger near Hammers, Bergman's home. There is also an interesting 39-minute "Behind the Scenes" bonus. The executive producers were Ingmar Bergman Jr. and Marie-Louise Sid-Sylwander of the Swedish Royal Ballet. Released 2018, disc has 2.0 PCM stereo sound. Grade: B+
Brett Dean Hamlet opera to libretto by Matthew Jocelyn. Directed 2018 by Neil Armfield at Glyndebourne (in a World Premiere). Stars Allan Clayton (Hamlet), Barbara Hannigan (Ophelia), Sarah Connolly (Gertrude), Rod Gilfry (Claudius), Kim Begley (Polonius), John Tomlinson (Ghost of Old Hamlet), David Butt Philip (Laertes), Jacques Imbrailo (Horatio), Rupert Enticknap (Rosencrantz), and Christopher Lowrey (Guildenstern). Vladimir Jurowski conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Leader Vesselin Gellev) and The Glyndebourne Chorus (Chorus Master Jeremy Bines). Set design by Ralph Myers; costume design by Alice Babidge; movement direction by Denni Sayers; lighting design by John Clark; fight direction by Nicholas Hall; produced by George Bruell; directed for TV by François Roussillon. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Verdi Giovanna d'Arco opera to a libretto by Temistocle Solera. Directed by Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier at the Teatro alla Scala. Stars Anna Netrebko (Giovanna), Francesco Meli (Carlo VII), Carlos Álvarez (Giacomo), Michele Mauro (Delil) & Dmitry Beloselskiy (Talbot). Riccardo Chailly conducts the Coro e Orchestra del Teatro alla Scala. Released 2018. Grade: NA
Jules Massenet Thaïs to libretto by Louis Gallet. Directed 2008 by Stefano Poda at the Teatro Regio Torino. Stars Barbara Frittoli (Thaïs, actress and courtesan), Lado Ataneli (Athanaël, a Cenobite monk), Alessandro Liberatore (Nicias, a philosopher), Maurizio Lo Piccolo (Paléman, an old monk), Diego Matamoros (A servant), Eleonora Buratto (Crobyle, a slave), Ketevan Kemoklidze (Myrtale, a slave), Nadežda Serdyuk (Albine, an abbess), and Daniela Schillaci (La Charmeuse, a ballet dancer). Gianandrea Noseda conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of The Teatro Regio Di Torino (Chorus Master Roberto Gabbiani). Choreography, set, lighting, and costumes by Stefano Poda! Directed for TV by Tiziano Mancini. Released 2009, disc has dts-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound. Grade B+
Puccini Turandot opera to a libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni and as completed by Lucio Berio. Directed 2016 by Enrico Stinchelli at the Torre del Lago Puccini Festival. Stars Rebeka Lokar (Turandot), Rudy Park (Calaf), Franceska Cappelletti (Liù), Vladimir Reutov (Old Emperor), Ernesto Morillo (Timur), Mauro Buda (Ping), Ugo Tarquini (Pang), Tiziano Baroncini (Pong), Claudio Ottino (The Mandarin), and Alberto Petricca (Prince of Persia), Anna Poala Troiano (First Handmaid), and Donatella De Caro (Second Handmaid). Jacopo Sipari di Pescasseroli conducts the Orchestra, Chorus, and Boy Soprano Chorus of the Puccini Festival (Chorus Master Viviana Apicella).
Double feature: (1) La Voix humaine (English: The Human Voice)opera by Francis Poulenc to a libretto by Jean Cocteau and(2) Le Château de Barbe bleue (Hungraian: A kékszakállú herceg vára; English: Bluebeard's Castle) opera by Béla Bartók to a libretto by Béla Balázs. Directed in 2015 by Krzysztof Warlikowski at the Palais Garnier. La Voix humaine stars Barbara Hannigan (Her) and Claude Bardouil (Him, a silent role); Le Château de Barbe bleue stars John Relyea (Duc) and Ekaterina Gubanova (Judith). Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the Paris Opera Orchestra.
Ottorino Respighi La Campana Sommersa opera to a libretto by Claudio Guastella. Directed by Pier Francesco Maestrini in 2016 at the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari. Stars Valentina Farcas (Rautendelein), Maria Luigia Borsi (Magda), Agostina Smimmero (An Old Witch), Angelo Villari (Enrico), Thomas Gazheli (The Ondino), Filippo Adami (A Faun), Dario Russo (A Priest), Nicola Ebau (A Schoolmaster), and Mauro Secci (A Barber). Donato Renzetti conducts the Orchestra del Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, the Coro del Teatro Lirico di Cagliari (Chorus Master Gaetano Mastroiaco), and the Coro di Voci Bianche del Conservatorio 'G. P. da Palestrina' di Cagliari (Chorus Master Enrico di Maira).
Mozart Lucio Silla opera to libretto by Giovanni de Gamerra. Directed 2017 by Claus Guth at the Teatro Real. Stars Kurt Streit (Lucio Silla), Patricia Petibon (Giunia), Silvia Tro Santafé (Cecilio), Inga Kalna (Lucio Cinna), María José Moreno (Celia), and Kenneth Tarver (Aufidio). Ivor Bolton conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Real de Madrid (Chorus Master Andrés Máspero). Assistant stage direction by Tine Buyse; set and costume design by Christian Schmidt; original lighting design by Manfred Voss; revival lighting design by Jürgen Hoffman; dramaturgy by Ronny Dietrich; directed for TV by Jérémie Cuvillier; produced by Xavier Dubois & Natalia Camacho. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Mendelssohn Midsummer Night's Dream and Tchaikovsky Manfred Symphony. Riccardo Chailly conducts the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in 2017. Directed by Michael Beyer; produced by Paul Smaczny. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Mozart La Clemenza di Tito opera to a libretto by Pietro Metastasio adapted by Caterino Mazzolà. Directed 2017 by Claus Guth at Glyndebourne. Stars Richard Croft (Tito), Anna Stéphany (Sesto), Alice Coote (Vitellia), Clive Bayley (Publio), Michèle Losier (Annio), and Joélle Harvey (Servilia). Robin Ticciati conducts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (Leader Matthew Truscott) and the Glyndebourne Chorus (Chorus Master Jeremy Bines). Designed by Christian Schmidt; movement direction by Ramses Sigl; lighting design by Olaf Winter; production design by Arian Andiel; dramaturgy by Ronny Dietrich. Executive producer George Bruell; directed for film by François Roussillon. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Hector Berlioz Benvenuto Cellini opera to a libretto by Léon de Wailly and Henri Auguste Barbier. Directed 2015 by Terry Gilliam. Stars John Osborn (Benvenuto Cellini), Maurizio Muraro (Gicacomo Balducci), Laurent Naouri (Fieramosca), Orlin Anastassov (Le Pape Clément VII), Nicky Spence (Francesco), Scott Conner (Bernardino), André Morsch (Pompeo), Marcel Beekman (Le Cabaretier), Mariangela Sicilia (Teresa), and Michèle Losier (Ascanio). Sir Mark Elder conducts the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and the Chorus of the Dutch National Opera (Chorus Master Ching-Lien Wu).