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.
September 19. So far in 2018, we have about 65 new titles that qualify to appear on the website. The pace of new titles has been slowing down all year. Could we be now seeing the beginning of the end for the optical disc formats? If this is the case, we plan to finish building out our database of Blu-ray discs as a resource for the public for several decades to come. We will then attempt to report on the evolution of streaming resources for lovers of fine-arts video.
We continue to believe that 4K with High Dynamic Range (“HDR”) will revitalize interest in video of fine-art titles. The few Blu-ray discs and streamed files we have seen with 4K/HDR images are dramatically compelling. The recently-reviewed disc of piano concertos by Khatia Buniatishvali in 4K/HDR could arguably be the best classical music recording ever published. We think the era of showing fine-arts material with excellent video and audio is still just getting under way. But it's not clearly evident how the excellent video and audio will be delivered.
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 Movemenets and Hummel Trumpet Concert. Mariss Jansons conducts the Chor un Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks in 2018. Features soloists Genia Kühmeier (soprano), Gerhild Romberger (contralto), and Martin Angerer (Trumpet). Released 2018. 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
Verdi Macbeth opera to a libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. Directed 2017 by Emma Dante at the Teatro Massimo. Stars Roberto Frontali (Macbeth), Anna Pirozzi (Lady Macbeth), Marko Mimica (Banquo), Vincenzo Costanzo (Macduff), Manuel Pierattelli (Malcolm), Federica Alfano (Lady-in-Waiting), Nicolò Ceriani (Doctor), Antonio Barbagallo (Servant), Francesco Cusumano (Duncano), and Nunziatina Lo Presti (Fleanzio). Gabriele Ferro conducts the Teatro Massimo Orchestra, Chorus and Ballet (Chorus Master Piero Monti). Scene design by Carmine Maringola; costume design by Vanessa Sannino; lighting design by Cristian Zucaro; choreography by Manuela Lo Sicco; maestro d'armi was Sandro Maria Campagna; assistant director was Giuseppe Cutino; scene designs assistant was Roberto Tusa; costume designs assistant was Sylvie Barras. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Benjamin Britten Death in Venice opera to a libretto by Myfanwy Piper. Directed 2014 by Willy Decker at the Teatro Real. Stars John Daszak (Gustav von Aschenbach), Leigh Melrose (The Traveller), Anthony Roth Costanzo (The Voice of Apollo), Duncan Rock (Waiter), Tomasz Borczyk (Tadzio), Itxaro Mentxaka (Cadging), Vicente Ombuena (Concierge), Antonio Lozano (Crystal Merchant), Damián del Castillo (Waiter), Nuria García Arrés (Vendedora de Encaje), and Ruth Iniesta (Strawberry Seller/Newspaper Seller). Alejo Pérez conducts the Teatro Real Chorus and Orchestra (Chorus Master Andrés Máspero). Set design by Wolfgang Gussmann; costume design by Wolfgang Gussmann and Susana Mendoza; lighting design by Hans Toelstede; choreography by Athol Farmer; directed for video by François Roussillon. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Puccini Turandot opera to a libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni. Directed 2018 by Stefano Poda at the Teatro Regio Torino. Stars Rebeka Lokar (Turandot), Jorge de León (Calaf), Erika Grimaldi (Liù), In-Sung Sim (Timur), Antonello Ceron (The Emperor Altoum), Marco Filippo Romano (Ping, Lord Chancellor), Luca Casalin (Pang, Majordomo), Mikeldi Atxalandabaso (Pong, Head Chef of the Imperial Kitchen), Roberto Abbondanza (A Mandarin), Joshua Sanders (The Prince of Persia), Sabrina Amè (First Handmaid), Manuela Giacomini (Second Handmaid), and Nicoletta Cabassi (Pu-Tin-Pao). Gianandrea Noseda conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Regio Torino (Chorus Master Claudio Fenoglio). Sets, costumes, choreography, and lighting by Stefano Poda; collaborator director and assistant was Paolo Giani Cei; directed for video by Tiziano Mancini. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio surround sound. Grade: NA
Donizetti La Favorite opera to a libretto by Alphonse Royer, Gustave Vaëz, and Eugène Scribe. Directed by Ariel García-Valdés with co-director Derek Gimpel at the Gran Teatre del Liceu di Barcellona. Stars Veronica Simeoni (Léonor de Guzman), Celso Albelo (Fernand), Mattia Olivieri (Alphonse XI, King of Castile), Ugo Guagliardo (Balthazar), Manuel Amati (Don Gaspar), Francesca Longari (Inès), Leonardo Sgroi (Un Seigneur), and extras Paolo Arcangeli, Cristiano Colangelo, Domenico Nuovo, and Pierangelo Prziosa. Fabio Luisi conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (Chorus Master Lorenzo Fratini). Set and costume design by Jean-Pierre Vergier; lighting design by Dominique Borrini; ; Directed for TV Matteo Ricchetti; sound recorded by Rino Trasi. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Play dance production recorded 2017 at the Opéra national de Paris (Palais Garnier). Choreographed by Alexander Ekman. Music by Mikael Karlsson. Stars Stéphane Bullion (Danseur Étoile), Muriel Zusperreguy (Première Danseuse), Vincent Chaillet (Premier Danseur), and the Corps de Ballet de l'Opéra national de Paris. Set and costume design by Alexander Ekman; costume design by Xavier Ronze; lighting design by Tom Visser; videography by T.M. Rives; directed for TV by Tommy Pascal. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 surround sound. Grade: NA
Puccini Madama Butterfly opera to libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. Directed by Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier at the Royal Opera House in 2017. Stars Ermonela Jaho (Cio-Cio San), Marcelo Puente (Pinkerton), Scott Hendricks (Sharpless), Carlo Bosi (Goro), Elizabeth DeShong (Suzuki), Jeremy White (Bonze), Emily Edmonds (Kate Pinkerton), Gyula Nagy (Imperial Commissioner), and Yuriy Yurchuk (Prince Yamadori). Antonio Pappano conducts the Orchestra of The Royal Opera House and the Royal Opera Chorus (Chorus Master William Spaulding; Co-Concert Master Sergey Levitin). Set design by Christian Fenouillat; costume design by Agostino Cavalca; lighting design by Christophe Forey; directed for video by Matthew Woodward. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Beethoven Leonore Overture, No. 3 in C major, Op. 72
Beethoven Symphony No. 4
BeethovenOverture to The Creatures of Prometheus, Op. 43
Wagner Wesendonck-Lieder (Westbroek)
Played and recorded at the the Markgräfliches Opernhaus in Bayreuth, 2018. This was the traditional Europakonzert performed on May 1 each year by the Berliner Philharmoniker in a special venue, usually in a different European city. Paavo Järvi conducts; features soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek. Released in 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Handel Xerxes opera to a libretto by Alphonse Royer and Gustave Vaëz (Serse in Italian). Directed 2017 by Tilmann Köhler at the Oper Frankfurt. Stars Gaëlle Arquez (Xerxes), Lawrence Zazzo (Arsamene), Elizabeth Sutphen (Romilda), Louise Alder (Atalanta), Tanja Ariane Baumgartner (Amastre), Brandon Cedel (Ariodate), and Thomas Faulkner (Elviro). Constantinos Carydis conducts the Frankfurter Opern- und Museumorchester and the Vocalensemble Frankfurt. Set design by Karoly Risz; costume design by Susanne Uhl; lighting design by Joachim Klein; live video by Marlene Blumert; dramatic advisor was Zsolt Horpácsy; directed for video by Tiziano Mancini. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland ballet. Original music by Joby Talbot orchestrated by Christopher Austin and Joby Talbot. Choreography by Christopher Wheeldon. Stars Lauren Cuthbertson (Alice), Federico Bonelli (Jack/The Knave of Hearts), James Hay (Lewis Carroll/The White Rabbit), Laura Morera (Mother/Queen of Hearts), Christopher Saunders (Father/King of Hearts), Steven McRae (Magician/Mad Hatter), and Gary Avis(The Duchess), and other dancers of the Royal Opera Ballet. Koen Kessels conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House (Associate Concert Master Ania Safonova). Designs by Bob Crowley; scenario by Nicholas Wright; lighting design by Nathasha Katz; production design by John Driscoll and Gemma Carrington; original sound design by Andrew Bruce for Autograph; staging by Christopher Saunders; directed for TV by Ross MacGibbon. Released in 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
On July 4 and 6, 2015, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra performed two concerts with Zubin Mehta conducting at the Charles Bronfman auditorium in Tel Aviv. On one night Khatia Buniatishvili performed the Liszt Piano Concerto No. 2. On the next night she played the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1. Videographer Christophe Boula was there to film Khatia's performances for Panamax. He must have been frustrated as he was unable to set up cameras at the back of the hall to shoot the orchestra and Khatia from normal angles of 4:00 to 8:00 o'clock. Most of his cameras were consigned to the sides and back of the stage (he did have one camera, probably hanging from a boom, that could shoot Khatia at the keyboard from about 7:00.)
Boula was told to make a DVD-style recording. But he had the capability of shooting something far better. I wonder if Boula knew at the time that his work would eventually result in the first fine-art recording ever to be published in 4K with High Dynamic Range? And did Boula guess that this project would arguably turn into, from the viewpoint of PQ and SQ anyway, the best recording ever to be made a fine-art performance? And did he foresee that the wonderful images he would record would nevertheless be crippled by weak video content? Well, it's not likely that we well hear anything from Boula about all this, so we will have to try to explain it for you.
Benjamin Britten Billy Budd opera to a libretto by E. M. Forster and Eric Crozier. Directed by Deborah Warner at the Teatro Real. Stars Jacques Imbrailo (Billy Budd), Toby Spence (Edward Fairfax Vere), Brindley Sherratt (John Claggart), Thomas Oliemans (Mr. Redburn), David Soar (Mr. Flint), Torben Jürgens (Lieutenant Ratcliffe), Christopher Gillet (Red Whiskers), Duncan Rock (Donald), Clive Bayley (Dansker), Sam Furness (Novice), Francisco Vas (Squeak), Manel Esteve (Bosun), Gerardo Bullón (First Mate), Tomeu Bibiloni (Second Mate), Borja Quiza (The Novice's Friend), Jordi Casanova (Maintop), and Isaac Galán (Arthur Jones). Ivor Bolton conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Real de Madrid (Chorus Master Andrés Máspero). Stage design by Michael Levine; costume design by Chloe Obolensky; lighting design by Jean Kalman; directed for TV by Jérémie Cuvillier. 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 2016 by Saskia Boddeke and Peter Greenaway at the Teatro Farnese during the Verdi Festival. Stars Luciano Ganci (Carlo VII), Vittorio Vitelli (Giacomo), Vittoria Yeo (Giovanna), Gabriele Mangione (Delil) & Luciano Leoni (Talbot). Ramón Tebar conducts I Virtuosi Italiani and the Coro del Teatro Regio di Parma (Chorus Master Martino Faggiani). Stage design by Annette Mosk; costume design by Cornelia Doornekamp; lighting design by Floriaan Ganzevoort; video design by Peter Wilms; choreography by Lara Guidett. Directed for video by Saskia Boddeke. Released 2018, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
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 film by François Roussillon. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
Puccini La Bohème opera to libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. Directed 2017 by Richard Jones at the Royal Opera House. Stars Nicole Car (Mimì), Michael Fabiano (Rodolfo), Simona Mihai (Musetta), Mariusz Kwiecień (Marcello), Luca Tittoto (Colline), and Florian Sempey (Schaunard). Antonio Pappano conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House (Concert Master Vasko Vassilev) and Royal Opera Chorus (Chorus Master William Spaulding). Associate direction by Elaine Kidd; designs by Stewart Laing; lighting design by Mimi Jordan Sherin; movement direction by Sarah Fahie. Directed for the screen by Rhodri Huw. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA