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.
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). We also just worked our way through the Alphalist to clean up and standardize our descriptions of the publishers as well as the various performance groups and venues. A lot of inconsistencies had crept into the Alphalist over 10 years, but now that’s fixed!
On the new home page, you will see the beginnings of the most recent 17 stories. 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, here’s what we have done:
Prokofiev Complete Symphonies and Concertos box set. Valery Gergiev conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Mariinsky Theatre (Principal Chorus Master Andrei Petrenko) at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow and the Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, April 2016. Features soloists Denis Kozhukhin (Piano), Denis Matsuev (Piano), Leonidas Kavakos (Violin), Daniil Trifonov (Piano), Igor Morozov (Tenor), Sergei Redkin (Piano), Vadym Kholodenko (Piano), Kristof Barati (Violin), Olga Borodina (Mezzo-soprano), Yulia Matochkina (Mezzo-soprano), Mikhail Petrenko (Bass), Alexei Petrenko (Narrator), and Alexander Ramm (Cello). The symphonic and choral works included in this box set are spread over three Blu-ray discs.
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
Triple bill of shorter ballets choreographed by Frederick Ashton---each work is quite different and unrelated to the others. All were recorded on the same day in June 2017 at a revival in honor of Ashton. Because the works are so different, we grade each separately:
Symphonic Variations. Music by César Franck. Features Marianela Nuñez, Vadim Muntagirov, Yasmine Haghdi, James Hay, Yuhui Choe, and Tristan Dyer. Solo piano by Paul Stobart. Designs by Sophie Fedorovitch; lighting by John B. Read, staging by Wendy Ellis Somes and Malin Thoors.
Marguerite and Armand. Music by Franz Liszt. Stars Zenaida Yanowsky (Marguerite), guest Roberto Bolle (Armand), Christopher Saunders (Armand’s father), Gary Avis (Duke), Mica Bradbury (Maid) and the following as admirers of Margarite:
Mahler Symphony No. 6 "Tragic”. Sir Simon Rattle conducts the Berliner Philharmonker in 1987 and 2018. This is a commemorative release celebrating Sir Simon Rattle’s final performance as chief conductor for the Berliner Philharmoniker. Title includes two recordings of Mahler Symphony No. 6: an early recording from 1987 and Rattle’s final concert from 2018. The package also includes a CD version for each recording and a bonus documentary. Released 2018. Grade: NA
Verdi I Lombardi alla prima crociata opera to a libretto by Temistocle Solera. Directed 2018 by Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera at the Teatro Regio Torino. Stars Giuseppe Gipali (Arvino), Alex Esposito (Pagano), Lavinia Bini (Viclinda), Angela Meade (Giselda), Antonio Di Matteo (Pirro), Joshua Sanders (Prior of Milan), Giuseppe Capoferri (Acciano), Francesco Meli (Oronte), and Alexandra Zabala (Sofia). Michele Mariotti conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of Teatro Regio Torino (Chorus Master Andrea Secchi). Set design by Jean-Guy Lecat, costume design by Fernand Ruiz, light design by Franco Marri; assistant direction by Gianni Santucci; recorded by Rino Trasi and Giuseppe Famularo; directed for video by Matteo Ricchetti and Adriano Figari. Released 2012, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA
St. Thomas Choir Leipzig box set with 3 titles featuring The St. Thomas Boys Choir. Below are the discs. The first two titles have been covered on this site, and you can get more details by using the links provided. The third title is a documentary that we do not cover.
Claudio Abbado: The Last Years box set with 6 titles featuring Claudio Abbado conducting the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and the Orchestra Mozart as they perform works from Mahler, Bruckner, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, and Shoenberg. Each of the titles have been covered on this site before. You can learn more about an individual title by clicking on the links below:
Play dance production recorded 2017 at the Opéra national de Paris (Palais Garnier). Choreographed by Alexander Ekman and assistant Ana Maria Lucaciu. Music by Mikael Karlsson. Stars Stéphane Bullion (Danseur Étoile), Muriel Zusperreguy (Première Danseuse), Vincent Chaillet (Premier Danseur), and the following dancers from the Corps de Ballet: Marion Barbeau, Aurélia Bellet, Alice Catonnet, Silvia Saint-Martin, Ida Vikinkoski, Juliette Hilaire, Laurène Levy, Charlotte Ranson, Jennifer Visocchi, Claire Gandolfi, Marion Gautier de Charnacé, Clémence Gross, Caroline Osmont, Sofia Rosolini, Chelsea Adomaitis, Margaux Gaudy-Talazac, Mouget Shanti, Aurélien Houette, Allister Madin, Marc Moreau, Jérémy-Loup Quer, Daniel Stokes, Simon Valastro, Adrien Couvez, Yvon Demol, Alexandre Gasse, Antoine Kirscher, Mickaël Lafon, Hugo Vigliotti, Takeru Coste, Simon Le Borgne, Antonin Monié, and Andréa Sarri.
Les Funérailles Royales de Louis XIV concert (The Royal Funerals of Louis XIV) performed 2015 at the Chapelle Royale in Versailles. Raphaël Pichon conducts the Ensemble Pygmalion. Features singers Céline Scheen (Soprano), Lucile Richardot (Mezzo-soprano), Samuel Boden (Countertenor), Marc Mauillon (Baritone), and Christian Immler (Baritone). Directed for TV by Stéphane Vérité. Released 2018, Grade:B+
For the 300th anniversary of the death of Louis XIV (the Sun King), the Palace of Versailles staged a concert featuring French music likely played during the various funereal ceremonies conducted for the King.
Bellini Norma opera to libretto by Felice Romani. Directed 2018 by Sir David McVicr at the Metropolitan Opera. Stars Sondra Radvanovsky (Norma), joyce DiDonato (Adalgisa), Joseph Calleja (Pollione), Matthew Rose (Oroveso), Michelle Bradley (Clotilde), and Adam Diegel (Flavio). Carlo Rizzi conducts the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Set design by Robert Jones; costume design by Moritz Junge; lighting design by Paule Constable; movement direction by Leah Hausman. Released 2018. Grade: NA
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 (Chorus Master Frank Flade). Sets by Magdelena Gut; costumes by Ursala Kudrna; choreography by Catharina Lühr; lighting by Olaf Freese; dramaturgy by Detlef Giese. Directed for TV by Hannes Rossacher; produced by Paul Smaczny. Released 2017, has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. 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: