What's Up?

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.

Read More

Voices of Music Early Music Project

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!

Read More

La Fresque

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

Read More

La Nonne sanglante

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

Read More

Madama Butterfly

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

Read More

L’italiana in Algeri

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

Read More

La Donna Serpente

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

Read More

Lohengrin

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

Read More

Cavalleria rusticana

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

Read More

Beatrice Cenci

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

Read More

Salome

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

Read More

Rusalka

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

Read More

Ghosts

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

Read More

Hedda Gabler

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

Read More

Berlioz Symphonie fantastique

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:

  1. Symphonie fantastique: Épisode de la vie d'un artiste

  2. Overture from Le Corsaire

  3. La Mort de Cléopâtre cantata

  4. “Chasse Royale e Orage” from Les Troyens

  5. “Monologue et air de Didon” from Les Troyens

Read More