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Here's news about high-definition video disc ("HDVD") recordings of opera, ballet, classical music, plays, performance art, and paintings. On our home page you see the latest 26 stories. Go to the Alphalist (left navigation bar) to see our archives with hard-to-find critical reports on hundreds of HDVDs. Pick the best titles for your excelsisphere.

Sept 21, 2019. In the last 5 weeks we moved into the rush season when the publishers announce new titles they hope to sell during the upcoming holidays. This year it has been harder than ever to get decent information about the new titles. So far we have published basic information on 26 rush titles and we have 3 more “in production.”

We started on our giant Squarespace 7 “fit and finish” project aimed at editing all our stories (from 10+ years of writing) for consistency in content and style. So far we have finished editing about 120 stories. It will take many months to finish this.

It seems the two leading vendors of fine-arts Blu-rays today are Amazon with sales centers in many countries and Presto Classical out of England. Amazon has the most titles, but their website has become a bit of a swamp plagued with errors. Presto specializes in fine-art markets. They clearly separate their strong stock of Blu-ray titles from their other lines of business. Best of all, they have folks in their fulfillment department (including the lovely “two Clares”) who

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Brahms Symphonies 1-4

Brahms Symphonies 1-4 (complete symphonies) concert. Performed in 2018 at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées. Paavo Järvi conducts the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen. Music video directed for TV by Jean-Pierre Loisil. Also contains the documentary film The Brahms Code directed by Christian Bercer. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

Well folks, forget about the silly PR that the musicians of Bremen play Brahms best. But it’s also apparent from numerous reviews that Järvi and his scaled-down chamber orchestra play Brahms plenty well with forces that Brahms had in mind when he composed.

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Die Entführung aus dem Serail

Mozart Die Entführung aus dem Serail opera to libretto by Johann Gottlieb Stephanie (from Christoph Friedrich Bretzner). Directed 2017 at La Scala by Mattia Testi reviving the beloved 1965 production of Giorgio Strehler at the Salzburg Festival. Stars Lenneke Ruiten (Konstanze), Sabine Devieilhe (Blonde), Mauro Peter (Belmonte), Maximilian Schmitt (Pedrillo), Tobias Kehrer (Osmin), Cornelius Obonya (Pasha Selim), and Marco Merlini (A servant). Zubin Mehta conducts the Teatro alla Scala Orchestra and Chorus. Carla Ceravolo revives set designs by Luciano Damiani; Sybille Ulsamer revives costumes by Luciano Damian; lighting by Marco Filibeck. Sung in German. Released 2019. Grade: NA

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Un mari à la porte

Jacques Offenbach Un mari à la porte (A Husband at the Door) operetta to libretto by Alfred Delacour and Léon Morand. Directed 2019 by Luigi Di Gangi and Ugo Giacomazzi at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale in Florence. Stars Matteo Mezzaro (Florestan Ducroquet), Marina Ogii (Suzanne), Francesca Benitez (Rosita), and Patrizio La Placa (Henri Martel). Valerio Galli conducts the Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. Set design by Federica Parolini; costume design by Agnese Rabatti; lighting design by Luigi Biondi. Sung in French. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Hamlet

Ambroise Thomas Hamlet opera to libretto by Michel Carré and Jules Barbier. Directed 2018 by Cyril Teste at the Opéra Comique. Stars Stéphane Degout (Hamlet), Sabine Devieilhe (Ophélie), Laurent Alvaro (Claudius), Sylvie Brunet-Grupposo (Gertrude), Julien Behr (Laërte), Jérôme Varnier (the Ghost), Kevin Amiel (Marcellus, Second Gravedigger), Yoann Dubruque (Horatio, First Gravedigger), and Nicolas Legoux (Polonius). Louis Langrée conducts the Orchestre des Champs-Élysées and Les éléments (Chorus Master Joël Suhubiette). Set design by Ramy Fischler; costume design by Isabelle Deffin; lighting design by Julien Boizard; production design by Nicolas Dorémus and Mehdi Toutain-Lopez; dramaturgy by Leila Adham. Directed for TV by François Roussillon. Sung in French. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Orphée et Eurydice

Christoph Gluck Orphée et Eurydice opera/ballet production to libretto by Pierre-Louis Moline. Directed 2018 by John Neumeier, the famous choreographer, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Singing stars are tenor Dmitry Korchak (Orphée), soprano Andriana Chuchman (Eurydice), and soprano Lauren Snouffer (Amore [should be Amour, as this is the French version]). Features The Joffrey Ballet as the inhabitants of the underworld. Harry Bicket conducts the Lyric Opera of Chicago Orchestra and Chorus (Chorus Master Michael Black). Set, costume, lighting design, and choreography by Director Neumeier. Directed for TV by Matthew Diamond; produced by John Walker; Executive Producer was David Horn. Sung in French. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Ives Universe, Incomplete

Charles Ives Universe, Incomplete symphony and performance art piece. Directed 2018 (as a world premiere) by Christoph Marthaler at the Jahrhunderthalle in Bochum, Germany as part of the 2018 Ruhrtriennale Festival. Titus Engel is music director for the Bochumer Symphoniker, the Rhetoric Project, and the Schlagquartett Köln with the assistance of multiple student percussion groups. Dancers are Joaquin Abella, Tora Augestad, Liliana Benini, Bérengère Bodin, Marc Bodnar, Magne-Håvard Brekke, Bendix Dethlieffsen, Haizam Fathy, Altea Garrido, Ueli Jäggi, Jürg Kienberger, Antonio J. Navarro, Michael Wilhelmi, Thomas Wodianka, Clements August Becker, and Helmut Schmitt.

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Rodelinda

Handel Rodelinda opera to a libretto by Nicola Francesco Haym. Directed 2018 by Jean Bellorini at the Opéra de Lille. Stars Jeanine De Bique (Rodelinda), Tim Mead (Bertarido), Benjamin Hulett (Grimoaldo), Avery Amereau (Eduige), Jakub Józef Orliński (Unolfo), and Andrea Mastroni (Garibaldo). Emmanuelle Haïm conducts Le Concert d’Astrée. Collaboration to the stage direction by Mathieu Coblentz, set design by Jean Bellorini and Véronique Chazal; costume design by Macha Makeïeff; lighting design by Luc Muscillo; assistance to the musical direction by Benoît Hartoin and Elisabeth Geiger. Sung in Italian. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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La Traviata (Jaho)

Verdi Traviata opera to libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. Andrew Sinclair directed 2019-2020 a revival at the Royal Opera House of the well-regarded 1994 production by Richard Eyre. Stars Ermonela Jaho (Violetta Valéry), Charles Castronovo (Alfredo Germont), Plácido Domingo (Giorgio Germont), Simon Shibambu (Dr. Grenvil), Catherine Carby (Annina), Germán E. Alcántara (Baron Douphol), Aigul Akhmetshina (Flora Bervoix), Thomas Atkins (Gastone de Letorières), and Jeremy White (Marchese d'Obigny). Antonello Manacorda conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House (Concert Master Sergey Levitin) and the Royal Opera Chorus (Chorus Director William Spaulding). Designs by Bob Crowley; lighting by Jean Kalman; movement direction by Jane Gibson. [No credit on package for TV director.] Sung in Italian. Released 2016, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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The Armed Man - A Mass for Peace

Sir Karl Jenkins The Armed Man - A Mass for Peace concert. Performed 2019 at the Mercedes Benz Arena, Berlin. Sir Karl Jenkins (The Armed Man) and Grant Llewellyn (Lament for Syria) conduct the World Orchestra for Peace and the World Choir for Peace (Chorus Master Nicol Matt). Soloist singers are Leah-Marian Jones, Yumeji Matsufuji, Pauline Rathmann, and Amir Aziz. Features cellist Valentino Worlitzsch. Directed for TV and produced by Hefin Owen; executive production by Gareth Williams; music production by Gwawr Owen; film editing by Gareth Owens and Chris Lawrence. Sung in English, French, Arabic, Welsh, German, Latin, and Japanese. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Lo Schiavo

Antônio Carlos Gomes Lo Schiavo opera to libretto by Rodolfo Paravicini. Directed 2019 by Davide Garattini Raimondi at the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari. Stars Svetla Vassileva (Ilàra), Massimiliano Pisapia (Américo), Andrea Borghini (Iberè), Elisa Balbo (La contesa di Boissy), Daniele Terenzi (Gianfèra), Dongho Kim (Il conte Rodrigo/Goitacà), Marco Puggioni (Guarûco), Francesco Musinu (Tupinambà/Lion), and Michelangelo Romero (Tapacoà). John Neschling conducts the Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Lirico di Cagliari (Chorus Master Donato Sivo). Set design by Tiziano Santi; costume design by Domenico Franchi; light design by Alessandro Verazzi; choreography by Luigia Frattaroli. Directed for TV by Tiziano Mancini. Sung in Italian. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Nutcracker and Mouse King

Nutcracker and the Mouse King ballet. Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Performed 2018 by the Ballett Zúrich and the Junior Ballett at the Opernhaus Zúrich. Choreographed and directed by Christian Spuck. Paul Connelly conducts the Philharmonia Zurich and the Children’s Choir and SoprAlti of the Opernhaus Zúrich (Chorus Master Ernst Raffelsberger). Set design by Rufus Didwiszus; costume design by Buki Shiff; lighting design by Martin Gebhardt; dramaturgy by Michael Kúster and Claus Spahn. Directed for TV by Michael Beyer; produced by Paul Smaczny. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound output. Grade: NA

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Bach Christmas Oratorio

Christmas Oratorio. Music is Bach concert of 6 cantatas (BWV 248) to a sacred text. Recorded 2018 at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig. Gotthold Schwarz conducts the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and the Thomanerchor Leipzig with soloists Dorothee Mields (soprano), Elvira Bill (alto), Patrick Grahl (tenor for Evangelist part), Markus Schafer (tenor for arias), and Klaus Hager (bass). Sung in German. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound output. Grade: NA

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Ariadne auf Naxos

Richard Strauss Ariadne auf Naxos opera to libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Directed 2014 by Sven-Eric Bechtolf at the Wiener Staatsoper. Stars Soile Isokoski (Ariadne/Prima Donna), Sophie Koch (Komponist), Johan Botha (Bacchus/The Tenor), Jochen Schmeckenbecher (Musiklehrer), Daniela Fally (Zerbinetta), Adam Plachetka (Harlequin), Carlos Osuna (Scaramuccio), Jongmin Park (Truffaldin), and Benjamin Bruns (Brighella). Christian Thielemann conducts the Orchestra of the Wiener Staatsoper. Released 2019. Grade: NA

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The Bassarids

Hans Werner Henze The Bassarids opera to libretto by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman. Directed 2018 by Krzysztof Warlikowski at the Salzburg Festival. Stars singers Sean Panikkar (Dionysus), Russell Braun (Pentheus), Willard White (Cadmus), Nikolai Schukoff (Tiresias/ Calliope), Tanja Ariane Baumgartner (Agave/Venus), Károly Szemerédy (Captain/Adonis), Vera-Lotte Böcker (Autonoe/Proserpine), Anna Maria Dur (Beroe). Bassarid dancers are Rosalba Guerrero Torres, Hector Buenfil Palacio, Flavie Haour, Katharina Platz, atd Javier Salcedo Hernandez. Kent Nagano conducts the Wiener Philharmoniker and the Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor. Designs by Małgorzata Sczczęśniak; lighting by Felice Ross; video by Denis Guéguin; choreography by Claude Bardouil; dramaturgy by Christian Longchamp. Directed for TV by Tiziano Mancini. Sung in English. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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