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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.

March 30, 2019. We just updated our review of the Salzburg Don Carlo and gave it an A-. We recently posted the disappointing grade of C+ for the new DG video of Carmina Burana at the Peking Imperial City. See also our recent reviews of the A+ Met Der Rosenkavalier, the fun ballet Le Corsaire (which earns an A for the swashbucklers), the exciting grade-A modern dance title The Art of Ohad Naharin, and the A+ hit recording of Handel’s Saul oratorio at Glyndebourne.

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.

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La Fresque

La Fresque dance production. Music by Nicolas Godin with the collaboration of Vincent Taurelle for some sections. Choreographed and directed by Angelin Preljocaj. Based on a traditional Chinese folk tale. Recorded 2017 at the Théâtre de la Criée, Marseille, France. Stars dancers from Ballet Preljocaj. Set designs and videos by Constance Guisset Studio; lighting design by Éric Soyer; general manager was Nicole Said; produced by Antoine Perset and Denis Molière; directed for video by François-René Martin. Released 2019, disc has 24/48 PCM stereo sound. Grade: NA

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Ravel Famous Works

Riccardo Chailly conducts the Lucerne Festival Orchestra for a night of famous Ravel works. Recorded 2018 at the Lucerne Festival. The following music is performed:

  • Valses nobles et sentimentales

  • La Valse

  • Daphnis et Chloé - Suite No. 1

  • Daphnis et Chloé - Suite No. 2

  • Boléro

Directed by Ute Feudel; produced by Paul Smaczny. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Mahler Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection"

Mahler Symphony No. 2 "Resurrection." Also includes a performance of Zimmerman’s Trumpet Concerto “Nobody Knows De Trouble I See.” Andris Nelsons conducts the Wiener Philharmoniker and the Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks. Features soloists Ekaterina Gubanova (contralto), Lucy Crowe (soprano), and Håkan Hardenberger (trumpet). Released 2019. Grade: NA

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Verdi Atilla opera to a libretto by Temistocle Solera. Directed 2016 by Daniele Abbado at the Teatro Comunale di Bologna. Stars Ildebrando D’Arcangelo (Attila), Simone Piazzola (Ezio), Maria Josè Siri (Odabella), Fabio Sartori (Foresto), Gianluca Floris (Uldino), and Antonio Di Matteo (Leone). Michele Mariotti conducts the Orquesta del Teatro Comunale di Bologna and the Coro del Teatro Comunale di Bologna (Chorus Master Andrea Faidutti). Set and lighting design by Gianni Carluccio; costumes by Daniela Cernigliaro. Released 2019. Grade: NA

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Don Carlo

Verdi Don Carlo opera to a libretto by Camille du Locle and Joseph Méry. Directed 2013 by Peter Stein at the Salzburg Festival. Stars Matti Salminen (Flilppo II), Jonas Kaufmann (Don Carlo); Thomas Hampson (Rodrigo/Marchese di Posa); Anja Harteros (Elisabetta di Valois); Ekaterina Semenchuk (La Principessa Eboli); Eric Halfvarson (Il Grande Inquisitore); Robert Lloyd (Un frate/Carlo V); Maria Celeng (Tebaldo); Kiandra Howarth (Una voce dal cielo); Benjamin Bernheim (Il Conte di Lerma/Un Araldo reale); Antonio di Matteo, Peter Kellner, Domen Križaj, Roberto Lorenzi, Iurii Samoilov, Christoph Seidl (Sei deputati fiamminghi); Oleg Savran (Un boscaiolo); and Anna-Eva Köck (La Contessa D’Aremberg). Antonio Pappano conducts the Vienna Philharmonic and the Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus (Chorus Master Jörn Hinnerk Andresen). Stage music by Members of the Angelika-Prokopp-Sommerakademie der Wiener Philharmoniker. Set design by Ferdinand Wögerbauer; costume design by Annamaria Heinreich; lighting design by Joachim Barth; choreography by Lia Tsolaki; directed for TV by Agnes Méth. Released 2014, disc has dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A-

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Carmina Burana and Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2

Carl Orff Carmina Burana cantata and Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2 concert. Recorded October 10, 2018 at the Imperial Ancestral Temple in the Forbidden City, Beijing. Features soloists Aida Garifullina (soprano), Toby Spence (tenor), Ludovic Tézier (baritone), Daniil Trifonov (piano), and Mari Samuelsen (violin). Long Yu conducts the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, the Shanghai Spring Children’s Choir, and the Wiener Singakademie (Chorus Master Heinz Ferlesch). Disc contains the following works:

  1. Carl Orff Carmina Burana (soloists Aida Garifullina, Toby Spence, and Ludovic Tézier)

  2. Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No. 2 (Daniil Trifonov)

  3. Max Richter November (Mari Samuelsen)

  4. Tianhua Liu Enchanted Night

  5. Jasmine Flower, a traditional Chinese folk song.

Directed for TV by Tiziano Mancini. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: C+

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Der Rosenkavalier

Richard Strauss Der Rosenkavalier opera to libretto by Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Directed 2017 by Robert Carsen at the The Met. Stars Elīna Garanča (Octavian), Renée Fleming (Marschallin), Billy Conahan (Mohammed), Günther Groissböck (Baron Ochs), Scott Scully (Major-domo), Marco Jordão, Ross Benoliel, Clark Smith, Edward Hanlon (Lackeys),  Sidney Fortner (Noble widow), Maria D'Amato, Christina Thomson Anderson, Rosalie Sullivan (Three noble orphans), Anne Nonemacher (A milliner), Dustin Lucas (An animal vendor), James Countney (Notary), Alan Oke (Valzacchi), Helene Scheiderman (Annina), Tom Watson (Hairdresser),  Matthew Polonzani (An Italian singer), Patrick Stoffer (Leopold), Markus Brück (Herr von Faninal), Erin Morley (Sophie), Susan Neves (Marianne),Mark Schowalter (Faninal's major-domo), Frank Colardo (Doctor), Tony Stevenson (Innkeeper), Brian Frutiger, Bradley Garvin, Brian Kontes, Christopher Job (Waiters), and Scott Conner (Police Commissioner).  Sebastian Weigle conducts the The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus.

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Le Corsaire

Le Corsaire ballet. Choreographed by Manuel Legris to a libretto by Manuel Legris and Jean-François Vazelle. Music by Adolphe Adam. Staged 2016 at the Wiener Staatsoper. Stars Robert Gabdullin (Conrad); Maria Yakovleva (Médora); Liudmila Konovalova (Gulnare); Kirill Kourlaev (Lanquedem); Davide Dato (Birbanto); Alice Firenze (Zulméa); Mihail Sosnovschi (Seyd Pasha); Natascha Mair, Nina Tonoli and Prisca Zeisel (Odalisques); as well as dancers from the Wiener Staatsballet and the Balletakademie der Wiener Staatsoper. Valery Ovsianikov conducts the Orchester der Wiener Staatsoper. Set and costume design by Luisa Spinatelli; lighting design by Marion Hewlett; choreographic assistance by Albert Mirzoyan. Directed for TV by François Roussillon. Released 2019, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A

The show opens with our bodacious boatload of buccaneers beating across the boisterous billows boldly breaching beaches boasting beautiful bimbos. Wherever these pirates venture, wild adventures await:

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Swan Lake

Swan Lake ballet. Music by Tchaikovsky. Choreography by Liam Scarlett after Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa. Directed _____ by Liam Scarlett at the Royal Opera House. Stars Marianela Nuñez (Odette/Odile), Vadim Muntagirov (Prince Siegfried), Elizabeth McGorian (The Queen), Bennet Gartside (Von Rothbart), Alexander Campbell (Benno), Akane Takade (Prince Siegfried’s Younger Sister), and Francesca Hayward (Prince Siegfried’s Younger Sister). Koen Kessels conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. Designs by John Macfarlane; lighting by David Finn. Released 2019 [Preliminary information needs confirmation and completion]. Grade: NA

This will be the 3rd Swan Lake in Blu-ray published by the Royal Opera Ballet and Opus Arte. It appears they have finally discarded the ancient, horribly outdated Yolanda Sonnabend Farbregé-inspired sets and maybe updated the costumes and choreography, etc. And finally, the indefatigable Marianela Nuñez gets the lead role. She may become the first star ballerina whose entire career has been well published in Blu-ray titles. The official clip below looks promising!

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2018 New Year's Concert a/k/a Silversterkonzert

2018 New Year's Concert a/k/a Silversterkonzert by the Berliner Philharmoniker. Daniel Barenboim conducts and is piano soloist at the Berlin Philharmonie. Here is the program:

  1. Mozart Piano Concerto No. 26 “Coronation”

  2. Ravel Rapsodie espagnole

  3. Ravel Alborada del gracioso

  4. Ravel Pavane pour une infante défunte

  5. Ravel Boléro

  6. Bizet Carmen Suite No. 1 (excerpts)

We only cover gala and New Year’s concerts if the program is substantial (not just pops, marches, polkas, and waltzes). This program is attractive, and we are also encouraged in that the sound file was recorded with 96kHz/24 bit sound sampling. Directed for TV by Torben Jacobsen. The official video trailer below has several nice whole-orchestra and multi-section shots that suggest that Jacobsen has tried to reduce the amount of DVDitis in his video content. Released 2019, the disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Ekstasis short musical films. Jean-Baptiste Barrière directs 6 avant-garde short films with corresponding modern classical works. The works are:

  1. Kaija Saariaho Nocturne with violinist Aliisa Neige Barrière.

  2. Kaija Saariaho NoaNoa with flutist Camilla Hoitenga.

  3. Kaija Saariaho Lonh with soprano Raphaële Kennedy.

  4. Jean-Baptiste Barrière Crossing the Blind Forest with flutist Camilla Hoitenga.

  5. Jean-Baptiste Barrière Violance with violinist Aliisa Neige Barrière.

  6. Jean-Baptiste Barrière Ekstasis with soprano Raphaële Kennedy.

The disc also has interviews with both composers. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 surround sound. Grade: NA

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The Art of Ohad Naharin

The Art of Ohad Naharin dance double bill. Choreography by Ohad Naharin. Performed 2014 and 2017 by the Batsheva Dance Company on the same stage at the Chaillot-Théâtre national de la Danse in Paris. Grade: A. Disc includes:

1. Naharin’s Virus from 2001 and revived 2014. Restaged and directed by Luc Jacobs. Dancers: William Barry, Omri Drumlevich, Bret Easterling, Iyar Elezra, Rani Ledzelter, Eri Nakamura, Rachael Osborne, Shamel Pitts, Oscar Ramos, Nitzan Ressler, Ian Robinson, Or Meir Schraiber, Maayan Sheinfeld, Bobbi Jene Smith, Zina (Natalia) Zinchenko, and Adi Zlatin. Original music by Karni Postel with additional music from Samuel Barber (Adagio performed by Kronos Quartet), Carlos D`Allessio (Les bulles), P. Stokes & P. Parsons (I want performed by Breakbeat Massive), and traditional Arab folk music by Al Majad group.

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Handel Saul opera to libretto by Charles Jennens. Directed 2015 by Barrie Kosky at the Glyndebourne Opera House. Stars Christopher Purves (Saul), Iestyn Davies (David), Lucy Crowe (Merab), Sophie Bevan (Michal), Paul Appleby (Jonathan), Benjamin Hulett (Abner/High Priest/Amalekite/Doeg), and John Graham-Hall (Witch of Endor). Ivor Bolton conducts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (Leader Alison Bury) and The Glyndebourne Chorus (Chorus Master Jeremy Bines). Designs by Katrin Lea Tag; choreographed by Otto Pichler; lighting by Joachim Klein. Directed for TV by François Roussillon; produced by George Bruell. Released 2016, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A+

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Coppélia modern ballet to music by Léo Delibes. Libretto by Charles Nuitter and Arthur Saint-Léon after E.T.A. Hoffmann. Choreography by Sergey Vikharev after Marius Petipa and Enrico Cecchetti. Performed 2018 at the Bolshoi Theater. Stars Margarita Shrayner (Swanilda); Artem Ovcharenko (Frantz); Alexey Loparevich (Coppélius), Xenia Averina, Daria Bochkova, Bruna Cantanhede Gaglianone, Antonina Chapkina, Anastasia Denisova, Elizaveta Kruteleva, Svetlana Pavlova, and Yulia Skvortsova (Eight friends); Nadezhda Blagova (Coppélia [Automaton]); Alexander Fadeyechev (Lord of Manor); Yuri Ostrovsky (Burgomaster); Nikolay Mayorov (Chronos); Oksana Sharova, Alexander Vodopetov, Ekaterina Besedina, and Dmitry Ekaterinin (Mazurka); Kristina Karasyova and Vitali Biktimirov (Czardas); Anastasia Denisova (Aurora); Antonina Chapkina (Prayer); Daria Bochkova, Ksenia Averina, Maria Mishina, Stanislava Postnova, and Tatiana Tiliguzova (Work); and Elizaveta Kruteleva (Folly). Pavel Sorokin conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Bolshoi Theater. Scenography by Boris Kaminsky; costumes by Tatiana Noginova; lighting design by Damir Ismagilov. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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