What's Up?

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 18. We just updated the B+ Les Funérailles Royales de Louis XIV concert as well as the A+ In War and Peace recital by Joyce DiDonado. If you like vocals, these are important recordings.

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:

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Les Funérailles Royales de Louis XIV

Les Funérailles Royales de Louis XIVconcert (The Royal Funerals of Louis XIV). Performed November, 2015 at the Palace of Versailles. Raphaël Pichon conducts the Ensemble Pygmalion. Features singers Céline Scheen (Soprano), Lucile Richardot (Mezzo-soprano), Samuel Boden (Tenor), Marc Mauillon (Baritone), and Christian Immler (Baritone). Released 2018. Grade: NA

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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

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DiDonato - In War and Peace

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

  • De Cavalieri Sinfonia (instrumental)

  • Purcell Ciaconna in G minor (instrumental)

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Nijinsky ballet. Choreographed by John Neumeier. Music by Frédéric Chopin, 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).

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Die Schöpfung

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

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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

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Le nozze di Figaro

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

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Great Ballets from the Bolshoi Volume Two

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:

1. Minkus La Bayadère A+
2. Auber Marco Spada A+
3. Tchaikovsky Swan Lake D+
4. Shostakovich The Golden Age B+

Released 2018. Combined Grade: B+

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Iolanta and The Nutcracker

This title has a double bill of Tchaikovsky works, an opera and a ballet:

  1. 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.

  2. The Nutcracker ballet to 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.

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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.

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Tchaikovsky Ballet Box Set

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:

  1. Swan Lake with Natalia Osipova and Matthew Golding, which we graded B-.

  2. The Sleeping Beauty with Marianela Nuñez and Vadim Muntagirov, which we graded A+.

  3. The Nutcracker with Lauren Cuthbertson and Federico Bonelli, which we graded B.

Combined Grade: B+

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Bernstein Celebration

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:

  1. 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).

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Shakespeare Coriolanus play. Directed 2017 by Angus Jackson. Stars Charles Aitken (Cominus), Tony Boncza (Second Volscian Senator/Volscian Servant/Roman Citizen), James Corrigan (Tullus Aufidius), Sope Dirisu (Coriolanus), Bally Gill (Roman Citizen/Aedile/Roman Soldier), Robert Ginty (Nicanor/Roman Citizen), Haydn Gwynne (Volumnia), Ben Hall (Titus Lartius), Sean Hart (Adrian/Roman Citizen/Aedile), Paul Jesson (Menenius), Martina Laird (Junius Brutus), Geoffrey Lumb (First Citizen/Volscian Soldier), Justine Marriott (Second Citizen/Volscian Soldier), Hector Magraw (Young Martius), Christopher Middleton (Volscian Soldier), Hannah Morrish (Virgilia), Jackie Morrison (Sicinius Veletus), Esther Niles (Gentlewoman/Roman Soldier/Volscian Citizen/Volscian Watch), Katherine Toy (Valeria, Volscian Servant, Roman Citizen), Rebecca Wingate (First Volscian Senator/Aedile/Roman Citizen), Simon Yadoo (Herald/Aedile/Volscian Servant), and Assad Zaman (Volscian Watch).

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