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.
October 10. We just updated the A+ In War and Peace recital by Joyce DiDonado. If you like vocals, this is an essential recording. We recently finished a complete updating and grading of all 5 versions of The Sleeping Beauty ballet that have been published in Blu-ray (all with streenshots and 3 with Wonk Worksheets). The most recent of these is the just-released 2017 recording by the Royal Opera Ballet (Nuñez/Muntagirov), which we graded A+. But the best SB remains the Bolshoi extravaganza with it’s magisterial video content provided by our favorite videographer, Vincent Bataillon.
We have just finished the monumental (for us) task of converting all the stories on the website from Squarespace 5 (for desktop) to Squarespace 7 (for all form factors from the smartphone up).
On the home page, you will see the beginnings of the most recent 17 stories. You reach the rest of the archives by using our Alphalist or our search tool. One problem is that the search tool doesn’t recognize all those tricky diacritical marks that we encounter in many languages. So if your search has unusual diacritical marks, try to figure out a search without the unusual marks.
It’s been about 10 years since we started this website. Since then, here’s what we have done:
Joyce DiDonato - In War and Peace - Harmony through Music concert. Directed June 4, 2017 by Ralf Pleger at the Grand Theatre de Liceu in Barcelona. Features mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato, dancer Manuel Palazzo, and flautist Anna Fusek. Maxim Emelyanychev conducts Il Pomo d'Oro, plays harpsichord, and plays a cornett solo. The concert is split into two sections: War and Peace.
Handel "Some dire event hangs o’er heads…Scenes of horror, scenes of woe" from Jephtha
Leo "Prendi quel ferro, o barbaro!" from Andromaca
Nijinsky ballet. Choreographed by John Neumeier. Music by FrédéricChopin, Robert Schumann, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, and Dmitri Shostakovich. Staged 2017 at the Hamburg State Opera. Stars Alexandre Riabko (Vaslav Nijinsky), Carolina Agüero (Romola Nijinsky/The Woman), Patricia Friza (Bronislava Nijinska/The Sister), Aleix Martínez (Stanislav Nijinsky/The Brother), Ivan Urban (Serge Diaghilev/The Impresario & Mentor), Anna Laudere (Eleonora Bereda/The Mother), Carsten Jung (Thomas Nijinsky/The Father), Silvia Azzoni (Tamara Karsavina/The Ballerina), Alexandr Trusch (Nijinsky as "Harlequin" and "Le Spectre de la Rose"), Marc Jubete (Nijinsky as "The Golden Slave" and "The Faun"), Lloyd Riggins (Nijinsky as "Petrushka"), and Jacopo Bellussi (Leonid Massine/The New Dancer).
Haydn Die Schöpfung (The Creation) oratorio. Directed 2017 by Carlus Padrissa and La Fura dels Baus at La Seine Musicale, Île Seguin, France. Stars Mari Eriksmoen (Gabriel/Eva), Daniel Schmutzhard (Raphael/Adam), and Martin Mitterrutzner (Uriel). Laurence Equilbey conducts the Insula Orchestra and the accentus (sic) choir (Chorus Master Marc Korovitch). Directed for TV by Isabelle Soulard. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Alban Berg Wozzeck opera to libretto by the composer. Directed 2017 by Krzysztof Warlikowski at the Dutch National Opera & Ballet. Stars Christopher Maltman (Wozzeck), Eva-Maria Westbroek (Marie), Frank van Aken (Drum Major), Marcel Beekman (Captain/Madman), Sir Willard White (Doctor), Jason Bridges (Andres), Ursula Hesse von den Steinen (Margret), Scott Wilde (First Apprentice), Morschi Franz (Second Apprentice), Jacob Jutte (Marie’s Son), and Richard Prada (A Soldier). Matt Albrecth conducts the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, Chorus of Dutch National Opera (Chorus Master Ching-Lien Wu), and the New Amsterdam Children’s Choir (Chorus Master Eline Welle). Set and costume design by Małgorzata Szczęśniak; lighting design by Felice Ross; video design by Denis Guéguin; choreography by Claude Bardouil; dramaturgy by Christian Longchamp; directed for film by François Roussillon. Released 2018, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Mozart Le nozze di Figaro opera to libretto by Lorenza da Ponte. Directed 2015 by Jürgen Flimm (with Gudrun Hartmann) at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden im Schiller Theater. Stars Ildebrando D’Arcangelo (Count Almaviva), Dorothea Röschmann (Countess Almaviva), Anna Prohaska (Susanna), Lauri Vasar (Figaro), Mariane Crebassa (Cherubino), Katharina Kammerloher (Marcellina), Florian Hoffmann (Basilio), Peter Maus (Don Curzio), Otto Katzameier (Bartolo), Olaf Bär (Antonio), and Sónia Grané (Barbarina). Gustavo Dudamel conducts the Staatskapelle Berlin and Staatsopernchor. Directed for TV by Hannes Rossacher; produced by Paul Smaczny. Released 2017, has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. (Preliminary information needs to confirmed to be sure all conforms exactly to the published disc.) Grade: NA
Great Ballets from the Bolshoi box set. This box has four ballets from the Bolshoi. All have been released individually, and we already have done reviews with screenshots and grades for all of them. Following are links to more information and our grade for each title:
This title has a double bill of Tchaikovsky works, an opera and a ballet:
Iolanta opera to a libretto by Modest Tchaikovsky. Stars Sonya Yoncheva (Iolanta), Arnold Rutkowski (Vaudémont), Alexander Tsymbalyuk (King René), Andrei Zhilikhovsky (Robert), Vito Priante (Ibn-Hakia), and Elena Zaremba (Marta). Sung in Russian.
The Nutcracker balletto a libretto by Dmitri Tcherniakov. Choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Edouard Lock, and Arthur Pita. Stars Marion Barbeau (Marie), Stéphane Bullion (Vaudémont), Alice Renavand (The Mother), Nicholas Paul (Drosselmeyer), and the Corps de Ballet du l’Opera National de Paris.
Onegin ballet. Music by Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky. Choreography by John Cranko. Filmed November 2017. Stars Friedmann Vogel (Onegin), Alicia Amatriain (Tatiana), David Moore (Lensky), Elisa Badenes (Olga), Jason Reilly (Prince Gremin), Melinda Witham (Madame Larina), and Marcia Haydee (Tatiana’s and Olga’s Nurse). James Tuggle conducts the State Orchestra Stuttgart. Set and Costume Design by Jürgen Rose. Directed for TV by Michael Beyer. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
John Cranko died about 45 years ago. Everything else about the title seems to have been deliberately made to look old. Nobody asked for credit for stage directions, probably because the Stuttgart Ballet performs this regularly.
Tchaikovsky---The Classic Ballets is a box set with 3 titles previously issued by Opus Arte as individual HDVDs. We have previously reviewed all of them, and all are available at full price. So follow our links here to learn more about each title:
Swan Lake with Natalia Osipova and Matthew Golding, which we graded B-.
Bernstein Celebration ballet collection. The Royal Ballet, for the centenary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, performed a triple bill of ballets set to different pieces by Bernstein. Directed 2018 by Kevin O’Hare. The performances are as follows:
Yugen. Set to Chichester Psalms. Choreographed by Wayne McGregor. Stars Federico Bonelli, William Bracewell, Harry Churches, Melissa Hamilton, Francesca Hayward, Chisato Katsura, Paul Kay, Sarah Lamb, Calvin Richardson, Joseph Sissens, and Akane Takada. Koen Kessels conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House (Co-Concert Master Sergey Levitin; Assistant Concert Master Melissa Carstairs) and Members of the Royal Opera Chorus and Extra Chorus (Chorus Director William Spaulding).
Shakespeare Titus Andronicus. Directed 2017 by Blanche McIntyre at Stratford-upon-Avon. Stars Stefan Adegbola (Aaron), Joseph Adelakun (Mutius), Kristin Atherton (Nurse), Will Bliss (Clown), David Burnett (Quintus), Paul Dodds (Returning Officer/Goth), Patrick Drury (Marcus Andronicus), Nia Gwynne (Tamora), Sean Hart (Demetrius), Martin Hutson (Saturnius), Amber James (Goth), Tom Lorcan (Martius), Luke MacGregor (Chiron), Tom McCall (Lucius), Hannah Morrish (Lavinia), Anthony Ofoegbu (Emilius), Dharmesh Patel (Bassianus), Jon Tarcy (Alarbus), David Troughton (Titus Andronicus), Marcello Walton (Publius), and Luca Saraceni-Gunner (Young Lucius).
The Sleeping Beauty ballet. Music by Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky. Directed by Kevin O'Hare. Choreography by Frederick Ashton, Anthony Dowell, and Christopher Wheeldon (based on tradition of Marius Petipa). This is a revival production (based on the original Oliver Messel 1946 production at Royal Opera House) by Monica Mason and Christopher Newton after Ninette de Valois and Nicholas Sergeyev. Stars Marianela Nuñez (Princess Aurora), Vadim Muntagirov (Prince Florimund), Kristen McNally (Carabosse), Claire Calvert (Lilac Fairy), Christopher Saunders (King Florestan XXIV), Elizabeth McGorian (The Queen), and Alastair Marriott (Cattalabutte). A huge number of other dancers from the ROB are credited in the the nice keepcase booklet.
Cinderella dance production. Music by Sergei Prokofiev. Choreographed and directed by Matthew Bourne. Recorded 2017 at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London. Stars Ashley Shaw, Andrew Monaghan, Michela Meazza, and Liam Mower. Set and costume design by Lez Brotherston; lighting design by Neil Austin; sound design by Paul Groothius; associate director was Etta Murfitt; resident director was Neil Westmoreland. Released 2018. Grade: NA
Beethoven Mass in C major concert. Also features Stravinksy Symphony in Three Movements and Hummel Trumpet Concerto in E major. Mariss Jansons conducts the Chor und Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks in 2018 (Chorus Master Howard Arman). Features soloists Martin Angerer (trumpet), Genia Kühmeier (soprano), Gerhild Romberger (mezzo-soprano), Maximilian Schmitt (tenor) and Luca Pisaroni (bass-baritone). Released 2018, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Antonio Vivaldi Orlando Furioso to libretto by Grazio Braccioli. Directed by Fabio Ceresa at the Festival della Valle d’Itria. Stars Sonia Prina (Orlando), Michela Antenucci (Angelica), Lucia Cirillo (Alcina), Loriana Castellano (Bradamante), Konstantin Derri (Medoro), Luigi Schifano (Ruggiero), and Riccardo Novaro (Astolfo). The chorus includes sopranos Elena Tereshchenko, Alessandra Della Croce, and Cristina Fanelli; mezzos Antonia Fino, Sofia Tumanyan, and Rossella Giacchero; tenors Domenico Pellicola and Nico Franchini; and basses Laurence Meikle, Dielli Hoxha, and Massimiliano Guerrieri (vocal coach Ferdinando Sulla). Diego Fasolis conducts I Barocchisti and is the continuo. Sets design by Massimo Checchetto; costume design by Giuseppe Palella; light design by Giuseppe Calabrò; choreography by Riccardo Olivier; directed for video by Matteo Ricchetti. Directed for TV by Felix Breisach. Released 2018, disc has dts-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound. Grade: NA