Here's news about high-definition video disc ("HDVD") recordings of opera, ballet, classical music, plays, performance art, and paintings. W e've got hard-to-find critical reports on hundreds of HDVDs. Pick the best titles for your excelsisphere.
June 9, 2019. We just finished a review of the grade B+ La Fresque from Ballet Preljecaj. Before that added a bunch of new Blu-ray titles that are probably new to you. We also added a story about 196 short videos of early music from the Voices of Music organization. Most of the videos are in 4K!
On our new home page you will see the beginnings of the most recent 26 stories about various titles. You reach the rest of the archives by using the 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, We screened more than 1400 Blu-ray titles of fine-arts recordings that might meet our standards for hi-fi sound and HD video. We excluded over 20% of these titles as impostors mostly for (1) legacy material of poor artistic quality, (2) obsolete sound, and/or (3) video resolution too poor to benefit from modern TV displays. Our screening left about 1100 individual purchasable packages on our Alphalist. We believe this is the only comprehensive public list anywhere that is limited to high-quality fine-arts Blu-ray video titles.
Our Alphalist makes it possible for anyone anywhere to learn more than he ever could before about ballet/dance, opera, classical music, and Shakespeare plays. To do better, one would have to be a multi-millionaire with time enough to stay constantly on airplanes in search of tickets to see things live.
HDVD stands for “High-Definition Video Discs” and also for “High-Definition Video Download (Including Streaming)”. Voices of Music is a non-profit performance project focused on early music (mostly before 1800) based in San Francisco. Their main activity is giving live performances in California. But thanks to co-director David Tayler, they are also taking a lead in making recordings of early music available to all. Their most important recording initiative is to publish YouTube videos, most of which run from 2 to 15 minutes. Typically, a video is devoted to a single piece of music. The musical forces playing range from soloists to complete chamber orchestras. Typically, each video is supported by a donor who underwrites expenses.
Of the 196 YouTube videos published by May 2019, about 100 are in 4K!
La Fresque (The Fresco) dance production based on a traditional Chinese folk tale. Music by Nicolas Godin with the collaboration of Vincent Taurelle. Choreographed and directed 2017 by Angelin Preljocaj at the Théâtre de la Criée, Marseille, France. Stars Clara Freschel, Nuriya Nagimova, Nagisa Shirai, Anna Tatarova, Yurié Tsugawa, Sergi Amoros Aparicio, Marius Delcourt, Antoine Dubois, Jean-Charles Jousni, and Fran Sanchez from Ballet Preljocaj with Mirea Delogu, Victor Martivez Caliz and Simon Ripert. Set designs and videos by Constance Guisset Studio; costumes by Azzedine Alaïa; lighting design by Éric Soyer. Directed for TV by François-René Martin. Produced by Antoine Perset and Denis Molière. Released 2019, disc has PCM stereo sound. Grade: B+
La Fresque is a fun show to watch. Preljocaj is a leading modern dance choreographer whom we admire for his Siddharte (Paris Opera Ballet) in Blu-ray. He has a refreshing style that mixes modern dance with military precision in larger formations and with unusual props and concepts. Above all, he is a genius at displaying feminine sexuality in a slick, tasteful way
Charles Gounod La Nonne sanglante opera to a libretto by Eugène Scribe and Germain Delavigne. Directed 2018 by David Bobée at the Opéra Comique in Paris. Stars Michael Spyres (Rodolphe), Vannina Santoni (Agnès), Marion Lebègue (La Nonne), Jérôme Boutillier (Le Comte de Luddorf), Jodie Devos (Arthur), Jean Teitgen (Pierre l’Ermite), Luc Bertin-Hugault (Le baron de Moldaw), Enguerrand De Hys (Fritz, Le Veilleur de nuit), and Olivia Doray (Anna). Laurence Equilbey conducts the Insula Orchestra and the accentus choir. Set design by David Bobée and Aurélie Lemaignen; costume design by Alain Blanchot; lighting design by Stéphane Babi Aubert. Video direction by François Roussillon. Released 2019. Grade: NA
Puccini Madama Butterfly opera to libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. Directed 2018 by Annilese Miskimmon at Glyndebourne. Stars Olga Busuioc (Cio-Cio San), Joshua Guerrero (Lieutenant B. F. Pinkerton), Michael Sumuel (Sharpless), Carlo Bosi (Goro), and Elizabeth DeShong (Suzuki). Omer Meir Wellber conducts the London Symphony Orchestra (Leader Pieter Schoeman) and the Glyndebourne Chorus (Chorus Master Nicholas Jenkins). Designs by Nicky Shaw; lighting design by Mark Jonathan; movement direction by Kally Lloyd Jones; video design by Ian William Galloway. Directed for TV by François Roussillon; produced by George Bruell. Sung in Italian. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Rossini L'italiana in Algeri opera to a libretto by Angelo Anelli. Directed 2018 by Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier at the Salzburg Festival. Stars Cecilia Bartoli (Isabella), Ildar Abdrazakov (Mustafà), Edgardo Rocha (Lindoro), Alessandro Corbelli (Taddeo), José Coca Loza (Haly), Rebecca Olvera (Elvira), and Rosa Bove (Zulma). Jean-Christophe Spinosi conducts the Ensemble Matheus. Released 2019. Grade: NA
Alfredo Casella La Donna Serpente opera to libretto by Cesare Vico Lodovici after Carlo Gozzi. Directed 2016 by Arturo Cirillo at at the Teatro Regio Torino. Stars Piero Pretti (Altidòr), Carmela Remigio (Miranda), Erika Grimaldi (Armilla), Francesca Sassu (Farzana / Coryphaea), Anna Maria Chiuri (Canzàde), Francesco Marsiglia (Alditrúf), Marco Filippo Romano (Albrigòr), Roberto de Candia (Pantúl), Fabrizio Paesano (Tartagíl), Fabrizio Beggi (Tògrul), Sebastian Catana (Demogorgòn), Kate Fruchterman (Smeraldina / A voice), Donato Di Gioia (Badúr / Coryphaeus), and Emilio Marcucci (Herald / Magician Geònca’s voice). Also features dancers from Fattoria Vittadini with choreography by Riccardo Olivier. Gianandrea Noseda conducts the Orchestra Teatro Regio Torino and the Chorus Teatro Regio Torino (Chorus Master Claudio Fenoglio). Set design by Dario Gessati; costume design by Gianluca Falaschi; lighting design by Giuseppe Calabrò. Directed for TV by Ariella Beddini. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio surround sound. Grade: NA
Wagner Lohengrin opera to libretto by the composer. Directed 2018 by Yuval Sharon at at the Bayreuth Festival. Stars Georg Zeppenfeld (Heinrich), Piotr Beczala (Lohengrin), Anja Harteros (Elsa von Brabant), Tomasz Konieczny (Friedrich), Waltraud Meier (Ortrud), Egils Silins (Der Heerrufer des Königs), Michael Gniffke (an Elder), Eric Laporte (an Elder), Raimund Nolte (an Elder), and Timo Riihonen (an Elder). Christian Thielemann conducts the Bayreuth Festival Orchestra & Chorus. Stage and costume designs by Neo Rauch and Rosa Loy; lighting by Reinhard Traub. Released 2019, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio surround sound. Grade: NA
Pietro Mascagni Cavalleria rusticana to a libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzeti and Guido Menasci. Directed 2019 by Luigi Di Gangi & Ugo Giacomazzi at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. Stars Alexia Voulgaridou (Santuzza), Marina Ogii (Lola), Angelo Villari (Turiddu), Devid Cecconi (Compar Alfio), Elena Zilio (Mamma Lucia), and Cristina Pagliai (Una donna). Valerio Galli conducts the Orchestra e Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (Chorus Master Lorenzo Fratini). Set design by Federica Parolini; costume design by Agnese Rabatti; lighting design by Luigi Biondi. Directed for TV by Matteo Ricchetti; sound recording by Rino Trasi and Vera Zanotti. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Berthold Goldschmidt Beatrice Cenci opera to a libretto by Martin Esslin based on The Cenci by Percy Shelley. Directed 2018 by Johannes Erath at the Bregenz Festival. Stars Christoph Pohl (Francesco Cenci), Dshamilja Kaiser (Lucrezia), Gal James (Beatrice), Christina Bock (Bernardo), Per Bach Nissen (Cardinal Camillo), Michael Laurenz (Orsino), Wolfgang Stefan Schwaiger (Marzio), Sébastien Soulès (Olimpio), and Peter Marsh (Judge). Johannes Debus conducts the Wiener Symphoniker and the Prague Philharmonic Choir (Chorus Master Lukáš Vasilek). Stage design by Katrin Connan; costume design by Katharina Tasch; lighting design by Bernd Purkrabek. Directed for TV by Felix Breisach. Sung in German. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Richard Strauss Salome opera to a libretto from Hedwig Lachmann's German translation of Oscar Wilde's play Salome. Directed 2018 by Romeo Castellucci at the Salzburg Festival. Stars John Daszak (Herodes), Anna Maria Chiuri (Herodias), Asmik Grigorian (Salome), Gábor Bretz (Jochanaan), Julian Prégardien (Narraboth), Christina Bock (A Page of Herodias), Matthäus Schmidlechner (First Jew), Mathias Frey (Second Jew), Kristofer Lundin (Third Jew), Joshua Whitener (Fourth Jew), David Steffens (Fifth Jew), Tilmann Rönnebeck (First Nazarene), Paweł Trojack (Second Nazarene), Thomas Bennett (Kappadozier/Participant of the Young Singers Project), Peter Kellner (First Soldier), and Dashon Burton (Second Soldier). Franz Welser-Möst conducts the Wiener Philharmoniker. Sets, costumes and lighting design by Romeo Castellucci; choreography by Cindy Van Acker; dramaturgy by Piersandra Di Matteo. Directed for TV by Henning Kasten. Sung in German. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Dvořák Rusalka opera to libretto by Jaroslav Kvapil. Directed 2012 by Kristina Wuss at the Opera Nova in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Stars Magdalena Polkowska (Rusalka); Tadeusz Szlenkier (Prince); Jacek Greszta (Water Gnome); Darina Gapicz (Witch); Katarzyna Nowak-Stańczyk (Foreign Princess); Pavlo Tolstoy (Gamekeeper); Victoria Vatutina (Turnspit); and Krystyna Nowak, Marta Ustyniak, Ewa Banasiak, Mariola Winkler-Kołtyś, Lidia Golińska, and Dorota Sobczak (Wood-sprites). Maciej Figas conducts Orchestra and Choir of the Opera Nova in Bydgoszcz (Choir Master Henryk Wierzchoń). Set and costume design by Mariusz Napierała; choreography by Iwona Runowska; multimedia productions by Krystian Drywa; ilght design by Maciej Igielski. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. Grade: NA
Ghosts ballet, based on the play Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen. Music composed by Nils Petter Molvær. Created and directed 2017 by Marit Moum Aune at the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet, Oslo. Choreography by Cina Espejord. Stars Andreas Heise (Oswald/Captain Alving, Oswald’s Father), Kristoffer Ask Haglund (Oswald as a Child), Camilla Spidsøe (Mrs. Alving, Oswald’s Mother), Sonia Vinograd (Young Mrs. Alving), Ole Willy Falkhaugen (Pastor Manders), Philip Currell (Young Pastor Manders), Grete Sofie Borud Nybakken (Regine, a Maid), Erle Østraat (Regine as a Child), Yoshifumi Inao (Carpenter Engstrand), Nils Petter Molvær (Musician), and other dancers from The Norwegian National Ballet (Artistic Director Ingrid Lorentzen) and The Norwegian National Ballet School. Set design by Even Børsum; costume design by Ingrid Nylander; lighting design by Kristin Bredal; video projections by Odd Reinhart Nicolaysen; voice over by Håkon Ramstad. Directed for TV by Tommay Pascal; produced by Xavier Dubois. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Hedda Gabler ballet. Choreographed and directed by Marit Moum Aune. Based on the play of the same name by Henrik Ibsen. Staged 2017 at the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet. Stars Grete Sofie Borud Nybakken (Hedda Gabler) Silas Henriksen (Eilert Løvborg), Philip Currell (Jørgen Tesman), Eugenie Skilnand (Thea Elvsted), Shane Urton (Assessor Brack), Samantha Lynch (Tante Julie), Klara Mårtensson (Diana), Kristian Alm (General Gabler, Hedda’s father), Erle Østraat (Hedda Gabler as child), and Helle Flood (Thea Elvsted as child). Features dancers from The Norwegian National Ballet (Artistic Director Ingrid Lorentzen) and The Norwegian National Ballet School. Music composed by Nils Petter Molvær; set design by Even Børsum; costume design by Ingrid Nylander; lighting design by Kristin Bredal; assistant direction by Christoper Kettner; group choerography by Kaloyan Boyadjiev. Directed for video by Tommay Pascal; produced by Xavier Dubois. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Berlioz Symphonie fantastique concert. Performed 2018 at the Château de Versailles. Sir John Eliot Gardiner conducts the Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique. Features contralto Lucile Richardot. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 Dolby Digital sound. Grade: NA
This title has several works from Berlioz. The full program is as follows:
Symphonie fantastique: Épisode de la vie d'un artiste
Mozart Die Zauberflöte (the Magic Flute) opera to libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. Directed 2018 by Lydia Steier at the Salzburg Festival. Stars Matthias Goerne (Sarastro), Mauro Peter (Tamino), Albina Shagimuratova (The Queen of the Night), Christiane Karg (Pamina), Adam Plachetka (Papageno), Maria Nazarova (Papagena), Michael Porter (Monostatos), Klaus Maria Brandauer (Grandfather), Tareq Nazmi (The Speaker), and the Wiener Sängerknaben (Three Boys). Constantinos Carydis conducts the Wiener Philharmoniker and the Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor (Chorus Master Ernst Raffelsberger). Stage design by Katharina Schlipf; costume design by Ursula Kudrna; lighting by Olaf Freese; directed for video by Michael Beyer. Disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Samuel Barber Vanessa opera to a libretto by Gian Carlo Menotti. Directed 2018 by Keith Warner at Glyndebourne. Stars Emma Bell (Vanessa), Virginie Verrez (Erika), Edgaras Montvidas (Anatol), Rosalind Plowright (The Old Baroness), Donnie Ray Albert (The Old Doctor), William Thomas (Nicholas), and Romanas Kudriašovas (Footman). Jakub Hrůša conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Leader Kevin Lin) and the Glyndebourne Chorus (Chorus Master Nicholas Jenkins). Design by Ashley Martin-Davis; lighting design by Mark Jonathan; movement direction by Michael Barry; projection design by Alex Uragallo. Directed for video by François Roussillon; produced by George Bruell. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Tchaikovsky Pique Dame opera to a libretto by Modest Tchaikovsky. Directed 2018 by Hans Neuenfels at the Salzburg Festival. Stars Brandon Jovanovich (Hermann), Evgenia Muraveva (Lisa), Vladislav Sulimsky (Count Tomsky/Plutus), Igor Golovatenko (Prince Yeletsky), Hanna Schwarz (Countess), Alexander Kravets (Chekalinsky), Stanislav Trofimov (Surin), Gleb Peryazev (Narumov), Pavel Petrov (Chaplitsky), and Oksana Volkova (Polina/Daphnis). Mariss Jansons conducts the Wiener Philharmoniker, the Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor (Chorus Master Ernst Raffelsberger), and the Salzburger Festspiele und Theater Kinderchor (Chorus Master Wolfgang Götz). Set design by Christian Schmidt; costume design by Reinhard von der Thannen; lighting design by Stefan Bolliger; video designs by Nicolas Humbert and Martin Otter. Directed for video by Tiziano Mancini. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Mercadante Didone Abbandonata opera to a libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola. Directed 2018 by Jürgen Flimm at the Innsbruck Festival of Early Music, Austria. Stars Viktorija Miškūnaitė (Didone), Katrin Wundsam (Enea), Carlo Vincenzo Allemano (Jarba), Pietro Di Bianco (Osmida), Diego Godoy (Araspe), and Emilie Renard (Selene). Alessandro De Marchi conducts the Academia Montis Regalis. Features Chiara Cattani on fortepiano. Set design by Magdalena Gut; costume design by Kristina Bell; lighting design by Irene Selka; choreography by Tiziana Colombo. Directed for video by Götz Filenius. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Donizetti Il Castello di Kenilworth opera to a libretto by Andrea Leone Tottola. Directed 2018 by Maria Pilar Pérez Aspa with assistant director Federico Bertolani at the Donizetti Opera Festival. Stars Jessica Pratt (Elisabetta), Carmela Remigio (Amelia), Xabier Anduaga (Leicester), Stefan Pop (Warney), Dario Russo (Lambourne), and Federica Vitali (Fanny). Ricardo Frizza conducts the Orchestra Donizetti Opera and the Coro Donizetti Opera (Chorus Master Fabio Tartari). Set design by Angelo Sara; costume design by Ursula Patzak with assistant costume designer Nika Campisi; lighting design by Fiammetta Baldiserri. Directed for video by Adriano Figari and Matteo Ricchetti. Sound recorded by Rino Trasi and Giuseppe Famularo. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Korngold Das Wunder der Heliane opera to a libretto by Hans Müller-Einigen. Directed 2018 by Christof Loy at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Stars Sara Jakubiak (Heliane), Brian Jagde (Der Fremde or the Stranger), Josef Wagner (Der Herrscher or the Ruler), Okka von der Damerau (Die Botin or the Messinger), Derek Welton (Der Pförtner or the Doorman), and Burkhard Ulrich (Der blinde Schwertrichter or the Chief Justice). Marc Albrecht conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Deutsche Oper Berlin (Chorus Master Jeremy Bines). Set design by Johannes Leiacker; costume design by Barbara Droshin; directed for TV by Götz Filenius. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Woolf Works ballet. Directed and choreographed by Wayne McGregor. Original music by Max Richter. Staged 2017 at the Royal Opera House (revival of 2015 production). Main stars are Gary Avis, Matthew Ball, Federico Bonelli, Alessandra Ferri (special appearance), Francesca Hayward, Paul Kay, Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae, Natalia Osipova, Calvin Richardson, Beatriz Stix-Brunell, Akane Takada, Eric Underwood, and Edward Watson as well as other members of the Royal Ballet and students of the Royal Ballet School (Christopher Powney Artistic Director). Features soprano Anush Hovhannisyan and speaker Gillian Anderson. Koen Kessels conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House (Concert Master Vasko Vassilev). There are 3 separate but related works presented, all inspired by the writings of Virginia Woolf:
I Now, I Then (based on the 1925 novel Mrs Dalloway, designed by Ciguë
Becomings (inspired by the 1928 novel Orlando), designed by We Not I [not to be confused with the name of Act 1above]
Tuesday (inspired by the 1931 novel The Waves), designed by Wayne McGregor
Handel Agrippina opera to a libretto by Vincenzo Grimani. Directed 2016 by Robert Carsen at the Theater an der Wien, Vienna. Stars Patricia Bardon (Agrippina), Jake Arditti (Nerone), Danielle de Niese (Poppea), Filippo Mineccia (Ottone), Mika Kares (Claudio), Damien Pass (Pallante), Tom Verney (Narciso), and Christoph Seidl (Lesbo). Thomas Hengelbrock conducts the Balthasar Neumann Ensemble. Set and costume design by Gideon Davey; lighting design by Robert Carsen and Peter van Praet; video design by Ian Galloway; dramaturgy by Ian Burton. Directed for TV by François Roussillon. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A-
Agrippina was Handel’s first great opera hit, but it is not often produced now. All the characters existed in history, but this libretto is a completely fictional baroque tale of incessant intrigue and lust for power/satiation by all except for good girl Poppea and good guy Ottone. Robert Carsen’s take on this is a bright, clean, funny update with a wicked twist in the finale (not spoiled here). In this review, we focus on Carsen’s stagecraft and the brilliant images captured by François Roussillon.
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), Elena Zaremba (Marta), Roman Shulakov (Alméric), Gennady Bezzubenkov (Bertrand), Anna Patalong (Brigitta), and Paola Gardina (Laura). Sung in Russian.
The Nutcracker balletto a libretto by Dmitri Tcherniakov. Choreography by Arthur Pita, Édouard Lock, and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Stars Marion Barbeau (Marie), Stéphane Bullion (Vaudémont), Nicholas Paul (Drosselmeyer), Aurelien Houette (The Father), Alice Renavand (The Mother), Takeru Coste (Robert), and Caroline Bance (The Sister) supported by the Corps De Ballet de L’Opéra national de Paris.
Mahler Symphony No. 2"Resurrection" concert also includes a performance of Zimmerman’s Trumpet Concerto “Nobody Knows De Trouble I See.” Andris Nelsons conducts the Wiener Philharmoniker and the Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks in 2018 at the Grosses Festspielhaus as part of the Salzburg Festival. Features soloists Ekaterina Gubanova (contralto), Lucy Crowe (soprano), and Håkan Hardenberger (trumpet). Directed for TV by Elizabeth Malzer. Includes subtitles German, English, French, Korean, and Japanese, a feature often omitted by careless publishers of Mahler 2. Released 2019, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Verdi Atilla opera to a libretto by Temistocle Solera. Directed 2016 by Daniele Abbado at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna. Stars Ildebrando D’Arcangelo (Attila), Simone Piazzola (Ezio), Maria José Siri (Odabella), Fabio Sartori (Foresto), Gianluca Floris (Uldino), and Antonio Di Matteo (Leone). Michele Mariotti conducts the Orquesta del Teatro Comunale di Bologna and the Coro del Teatro Comunale di Bologna (Chorus Master Andrea Faidutti). Set and lighting design by Gianni Carluccio; costumes by Gianni Carluccio and Daniela Cernigliaro; choreography by Simone Bucci; assistant stage direction by Boris Stetka; assistant stage design by Sebastiana Di Gesù. Directed for TV by Arnalda Canali. Released 2019, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA