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.
July 9. Three performance art works have been published as HDVDs: Adam's Passion, Einstein on the Beach, and Twin Spirits. We have given all three A+ grades! Only a few people have been able to see any of these works live, and it's possible none of them will be revived. So in each case the Blu-rays may become collectors items. To remind you again about these remarkable recordings, we just updated our screenshots and grouped them near the top of the Journal.
We recently updated and moved up near the top of the Journal two reviews of videos in the modern Belgium dance style: Babel 7.16 and C(H)ŒURS. The C(H)ŒURS story has the entire show attached in a nice HD YouTube clip! Enjoy!
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Rudolf Nureyev box set with 3 ballets in the classical tradition with revival choreography by Nureyev. Below are the discs. Each of them has already been reported on this website, and you can get more details by using the links provided:
Massenet Cendrillon opera (Cinderalla) to a libretto by Henri Caïn . Directed 2017 by Barbara Mundel and Olga Motta at the Theater Freiburg. Stars Kim-Lillian Strebel (Cendrillon), Anja Jung (Madame de la Haltière), Anat Czarny (Le Prince Charmant), Katharina Melnikova (La Fée), Irina Jae Eun Park (Noémie), Silvia Regazzo (Dorothée), Juan Orozco (Pandolfe), Jongsoo Yang (Le Roi), Naoishi Sekiguchi (Le Surintendant des Plaisirs), Roberto Gionfriddo (La Doyen de la Faculté), and Pascal Hufschmid (Le Premier Ministre / La Voix du Hérault). Fabrice Bollon conducts the Philharmornisches Orchester Freiburg as well as the Opern und Extrachor des Theater Freiburg (Chorus Master Bernhard Moncado). Choreography by Graham Smith; set design and costumes by Olga Motta; lighting by Dorothee Hoff; dramaturgy by Heiko Voss. Directed for TV by Tiziano Mancini. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Adam's Passion performance art event performed in 2015. Music by Arvo Pärt. Stage direction, set design, and lighting concept by Robert Wilson. Choreography by Lucinda Childs, who also performs as Woman. Other dancers: Michalis Theophanous (Man or Adam); Trevor Mattias Sakias (Boy); Endro Roosimäe and Erki Laur (Cain and Able); Tatejana Kosmõnina (A woman); Triin Marts (Another woman); Evelin Tanis (Girl); and Madis Kolk (Old Man), Lui Laur (Another boy), Kätrin Kärsna (Another girl), and Indrek Hirsrnik (Tall boy). Tõnu Kaljuste conducts the Tallinn Chamber Orchestra and the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir. Instrumental soloists are Harry Traksmann, violin; Robert Traksmann, violin; Marrit Gerretz-Traksmann, prepared piano. Choruses sung in Latin and Russian with subtitles in English, German, French, Korean, and Japanese. Disc sports an especially nice booklet. Directed for TV by Andy Sommer; produced by Paul Smaczny. Released 2015, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A+
Einstein on the Beach performance art piece performed January 6-7, 2014 at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. Music by Philip Glass. Directed for stage by Robert Wilson. Choreography by Lucinda Childs. Random number and solfège lyrics called for by the composer. Actual texts used were from Christopher Knowles (a neurologically impaired teenager and poet whom Wilson helped as special ed teacher), Samuel M. Johnson (an elderly black performer who was a friend of Wilson), and choreographer Lucinda Childs (who contributed the monologue "I was in this prematurely air-conditioned supermarket"). Released 2016, title has 2 Blu-ray discs with 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio surround sound. Grade: A+ with ‽ designation.
Twin Spirits, a poly-discipline performance art concert, portrays the lives of and love between composer Robert Schumann and his pianist wife, Clara Wieck. It appears this was the brainstorm of June Chichester, a member in 2005 of the Board of Directors of the Royal Opera, who wanted a special program to raise charitable donations for the opera and other causes. Chichester recruited John Caird, a director at the Royal Shakespeare Company, to create a play with a narrator, actors to speak the roles of Robert and Clara based on their actual words in letters and other surviving documents, and musicians to perform excerpts from their music.
The words and music of Clara Wieck are portrayed by Trudie Styler (actress), Rebecca Evans (soprano), Natalie Clein (cello), and Natasha Paremski (piano). The words and music of Robert Schumann are portrayed by Sting (actor), Sir Simon Keenlyside (baritone), Sergej Krylov (violin), and Iain Burnside (piano). Special arrangements of various musical selections are by Martin Ward. Recorded in 2007 and released 2009, disc has 5.0 PCM sound. Grade A+
Che originali! and Pigmalione opera double feature directed and staged 2017 by Roberto Catalano at the Fondazione Donizetti.
Giovanni Simone Mayr Che originali! to libretto by Gaetano Rossi. Stars Bruno de Simone (Don Febeo), Chiara Amarù (Donna Aristea), Leonardo Cortellazzi (Don Carolino), Angela Nisi (Donna Rosina), Omar Montanari (Biscroma), Gioia Crepaldi (Celestina), and Pietro Di Bianco (Carluccio).
Gaetano Donizetti Pigmalione to libretto by Simeone Antonio Sografi. Stars Antonio Siragusa (Pigmalione), and Aya Wakizono (Galatea).
Gianluca Capuano conducts the Orchestra dell'Accademia Teatro alla Scala (assistant conductor Roberto Frattini). Set design by Emanuele Sinisi; costume design by Ilaria Ariemme; lighting design by Alessandro Ariemme; directed for the screen by Matteo Ricchetti. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Babel 7.16 dance production recorded 2016 at the Festival d'Avignon in a courtyard of the Papal Palace. Choreographed by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet. Text from Lou Cope, Vilayanur Ramachandran, Nicole Krauss, and Karthika Naïr. Music by Patrizia Bovi, Mahabub Khan, Sattar Khan, Gabriele Miracle, and Shogo Yoshii with music advisor Fahrettin Yarkin. Stars Aimilios Arapoglou, Magali Casters, Navala "Niku" Chaudhari, Sandra Delgadillo, Francis Ducharme, Jon Filip Fahlstrøm, Leif Federico Firnhaber, Darryl E. Woods, Damien Fournier, Benfury, Aliashka Hilsum, Ulrika Kinn Svensson, Kazutomi "Tsuki" Kozuki, Paea Leach, Princess Madoki, Christine Leboutte, Nemo Oeghoede, James O'Hara, Helder Seabra, Mohamed Toukabri, Majon van der Schot, and James Vu Anh Pham. Stage design by Antony Gormley; costumes by Alexandra Gilbert; lighting by Urs Schoenebaum and Adam Carrée; dramaturgy by Lou Cope. Released 2018, disc has PCM stereo sound. Grade: B-
C(H)ŒURS ("Choirs/Hearts") dance production. Choreographed and directed 2012 by Alan Platel at the Teatro Real in Madrid. Music by Verdi and Wagner; additional music by Steven Prengels; short spoken part with words of Desmond Tutu. Features dancers from Patel's dance company, les ballets C de la B: Bérengère Bodin, Daisy Ransom Phillips, Ido Batash, Juliana Neves, Lisi Estaras, Quan Bui Ngoc, Roman Guion, Rumeu Runa, Rosalba Torres Guerrero, and Serge Aimé Coulibaly. The other star of this show is the Chorus of the Teatro Real (and individual members thereof). Consuelo Garres is a chorus member who sings solo. Two boys, Martin López Malgesini and Nicolás Del Real Sasaki, join the Chorus for special roles.
Steven Kazuo Takasugi Sideshow concert. Directed 2018 by Steven Kazuo Takasugi and performed by the Talea Ensemble in New York. The Talea Ensemble features Barry J. Crawford (flute/piccolo), Rane Moore (clarinet), Ryan Muncy (alto saxophone), Alex Lipowski (percussion/vocals), Stephen Gosling (piano), Yuki Numata Resnick (violin), Elizabeth Helgeson (viola), Chris Gross (cello), and David Adamcyk (electronics). Production supervisor was Brent Ness; audio production assistant was Sam Torres; audio production by David Adamcyk; video production by Four/Ten Media; cinematography by Evan Chapman and Kevin Eikenberg. Also features 46 minutes of interviews with the composer and the players. Released 2018, disc has stereo sound only. Grade: NA
Wagner Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg opera to a libretto by the composer. Directed 2017 by Barrie Kosky at the Bayreuth Festival. Stars Michael Volle (Hans Sachs), Klaus Florian Vogt (Walther von Stolzing), Johannes Martin Kränzle (Beckmesser), Anne Schwanewilms (Eva), Daniel Behle (David), Wiebke Lehmkuhl (Magdalene), Günther Groissböck (Pogner). Philippe Jordan conducts the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra and Chorus. Released 2018. Grade: NA
1984 ballet based on the novel 1984 by George Orwell. Choreographed and directed 2015 by Johnathan Watkins at the Northern Ballet in Leeds, England. Music by Alex Baranowski. Stars Tobias Batley (Winston Smith), Martha Leebolt (Julia), Javier Torres (O'Brien), Hironao Takahashi (Mr. Charrington), Giuliano Contadini (Parsons), Kevin Poeung (Ampleforth), Ashley Dixon (Martin), Victoria Sibson (Lead Prole), and other artists from the Northern Ballet. John Pryce-Jones conducts the Northern Ballet Sinfonia (Leader Geoffrey Allan). Set and costume design by Simon Daw; lighting by Chris Davey; video designs by Andrzej Goulding; dramaturgy by Ruth Little; production management by Steve Wilkins. Directed for TV by Ross MacGibbon. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: B
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+