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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.

July 22, 2019. We just finished a review of the grade B+ Hedda Gabler from the Norwegian National Ballet, which we graded B+ and moved to the head of the Journal. During the last 6 weeks we completed the basic stories about a bunch of new titles. But our big project has been to start a screening for “fit and finish” of all our stories now that we have completely migrated from Squarespace 5 to Squarespace 7.

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.

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Hedda Gabler

Hedda Gabler ballet. Music composed by Nils Petter Molvær. 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, Hedda’s first lover), Philip Currell (Jørgen Tesman, Hedda’s husband), Eugenie Skilnand (Thea Elvsted, Hedda’s schoolmate), Shane Urton (Assessor or Judge Brack), Samantha Lynch (Aunt Julie), Klara Mårtensson (Diana), Kristian Alm (General Gabler, Hedda’s father), Erle Østraat (Hedda Gabler as child), and Helle Flood (Thea Elvsted as child) supported by other dancers of The Norwegian National Ballet and The Norwegian National Ballet School. Set design by Even Børsum; costume design by Ingrid Nylander; lighting design by Kristin Bredal; assistant direction by Christoper Kettner; group choreography by Kaloyan Boyadjiev. Directed for TV by Tommy Pascal; produced by Xavier Dubois. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: B+

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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 Großes Festspielhaus as part of 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), 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; artistic collaboration by Silvia Costa; 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

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Hippolyte et Aricie

Rameau Hippolyte et Aricie opera to a libretto by Simon-Joseph Pellegrin. Directed 2018 by Aletta Collins at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden. Stars Anna Prohaska (Aricie), Magdalena Kožená (Phèdre), Adriane Queiroz (Œnone), Elsa Dreisig (Diane), Sarah Aristidou (La Grande Prêtresse de Diane/Une Matelote), Slávka Zámečníková (Une Chasseresse), Serena Sáenz (Une Bergère), Reinoud Van Mechelen (Hippolyte), Gyula Orendt (Thésée), Peter Rose (Pluton), Michael Smallwood (Mercure), Linard Vrielink (Première Parque), Arttu Kataja (Deuxième Parque), and Jan Martinik (Troisième Parque). Features dancers Bruna Diniz Afonso, Ema Jankovic, Patricia Langa, Sophia Preidel, Casia Vengoechea, Yuri Fortini, Daniel Hay-Gordon, Alessandro Marzotto Levy, Will Thompson, Po-Nien Wang, and Victor Villarreal. Sir Simon Rattle conducts the Freiburger Barockorchester and the Staatsopernchor (Chorus Master Martin Wright). Stage design, lighting design and costumes by Ólafur Elíasson; choreography by Aletta Collins; light by Olaf Freese; dramaturgy by Detlef Glese. Sung in French. Released 2019. Grade: NA

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Blomstedt Conducts Beethoven Box Set

Blomdstedt Conducts Beethoven Box Set released 2019. Herbert Blomstedt conducts the Gewandhausorchester, the MDR Rundfunkchor, the GewandhausChor and the GewandhausKinderchor from 2015-2017. Below are the discs. Each of them has already been reported on this website, and you can get more details by using the links provided:

  1. Beethoven Triple Concerto and Beethoven Symphony No. 5. The Triple Concerto features Isabelle Faust (violin), Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello), and Martin Helmchen (piano).(Grade: N/A)

  2. Beethoven Symphony No. 6 and Symphony No. 7. (Grade: N/A)

  3. Beethoven Symphony No. 9. Features Simona Šaturová (soprano), Mihoko Fujimura (alto), Christian Elsner (tenor), Christian Gehaher (baritone). (Grade:N/A)

Released 2019, three disc set has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Total Grade: N/A

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Le Trouvère

Verdi Le Trouvère opera to libretto by Salvadore Cammarano and Leone Emanuele Bardare and translated into French by Emilien Pacini. Directed 2018 by Robert Wilson at the Teatro Farnese, Parma, Italy (Co-Director Nicola Panzer; Assistant Director Giovanni Firpo). Stars Giuseppe Gipali (Manrique, Le Trouvère), Franco Vassallo (Le Comte de Luna), Marco Spotti (Fernand), Luca Casalin (Ruiz / Un Messager), Roberta Mantegna (Léonore), Nino Surguladze (Azucena, la Bohémienne), Tonia Langella (Inès), and Nicolo Donini (Un vieux Bohémien). Roberto Abbado conducts the Orchestra e Coro del Teatro Regio di Parma (Chorus Master Andrea Faidutti). Set and lighting design by Robert Wilson; collaborator for set design was Stephanie Engeln; collaborator for lighting design was Solomon Weisbard; costume design by Julia Von Lellwa; make-up design by Manu Halligan; video design by Tomek Jeziorski; dramaturgy by José Enrique Macián. Directed for TV by Tiziano Mancini. Sung in French. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker ballet. Music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky to a libretto by Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann and Marius Petipa. Choreographed by Peter Wright after Lev Ivanov. Staged 2018 by Christopher Carr at the Royal Opera House. Stars Gary Avis (Herr Drosselmeyer), Anna Rose O’Sullivan (Clara), Marcelino Sambé (Hans-Peter / The Nutcracker), Marianela Nuñez (The Sugar Plum Fairy), Vadim Muntagirov (The Prince), and dancers from The Royal Ballet. Barry Wordsworth conducts the Orchestra the Royal Opera House (Co-Concert Master Sergey Levitin). Designs by Julia Trevelyan Oman; lighting design by Mark Henderson. Directed for TV by Ross MacGibbon. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound output. Grade: NA

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Pelléas et Mélisande

Debussy Pelléas et Mélisande opera to libretto by the composer after the play by Maurice Maeterlinck. Directed 2016 by Dmitri Tcherniakov at the Opernhaus Zürich. Stars Brindley Sherratt (Arkel), Jacques Imbrailo (Pelléas), Kyle Ketelsen (Golaud), Damien Göritz (Yniold), Charles Dekeyser (A doctor), Corrine Winters (Mélisande), Yvonne Naef (Geneviève), and Reinhard Mayr (Pelléas’s Father). Alain Altinoglu conducts the Philharmonia Zürich, Zusatzchor Opernhaus Zürich, and the Sopralti Der Oper Zürich (Chorus Master Jürg Hämmerli). Set design by Dmitri Tcherniakov; costume design by Elena Zaytseva; lighting design by Gleb Filshtinksy; video design by Tieni Burkhalter; dramaturgy by Beate Breidenbach. Directed for TV by Andy Sommer; produced by François Duplat. Sung in French. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Il barbiere di Siviglia

Rossini Il barbiere di Siviglia opera to libretto by Cesare Sterbini. Directed 2017 by Laurent Pelly at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris. Stars Florian Sempey (Figaro) Catherine Trottmann (Rosina), Michele Angelini (Il Conte Almaviva), Peter Kálmán (Bartolo), Robert Gleadow (Basilio), Annunziata Vestri (Berta), Guillaume Andrieux (Fiorello), and Stéphane Facco (Ambrogio). Jérémie Rhorer conducts Le Cercle de l’Harmonie and Unikanti (Chorus Master Gaël Darchen). Set and costumde design by Laurent Pelly; associate set designer was Cléo Laigret; associate costume designer was Jean-Jacques Delmotte; lighting design by Joël Adam. Directed for TV by François Roussillon; executive producer was George Bruell. Sung in Italian. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Bruckner Symphony No. 2

Bruckner Symphony No. 2. Performed 2018 at the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg. Christian Thielemann conducts the Staatskapelle Dresden. Directed for TV by Alexander Radulescu. Released 2019, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Ricciardo e Zoraide

Rossini Ricciardo e Zoraide opera to libretto by Francesco Berio di Salsa. Directed 2018 by Marshall Pynkosky at the Rossini Opera Festival. Stars Pretty Yende (Zoraide), Juan Diego Flórez (Ricciardo), Sergey Romanovsky (Agorante), Victoria Yaravaya (Zomira), Nicola Ulivieri (Ircano), Xabier Anduaga (Ernesto), Sofia Mchedlishvili (Fatima), Martiniana Antone (Elmira), and Ruzil Gatin (Zamorre). Giacomo Sagripanti conducts the Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale Della Rai and the Coro del Teatro Ventido Basso (Chorus Master Giovanni Farina). Set design by Gerard Gauci; costume design by Michael Gianfrancesco; lighting design by Michelle Ramsay; choreography by Jeanette Lajeunesse Zingg. Directed for TV by Ariella Beddini. Sung in Italian,. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Giulietta e Romeo

Nicola Vaccaj Giulietta e Romeo opera to libretto by Felice Romani. Directed 2018 by Cecilia Ligorio at the Palazzo Ducale, Martina Franca, Italy as part of the Festival of the Valle d’Itria. Stars Leonor Bonilla (Giulietta), Raffaella Lupinacci (Romeo), Leonardo Cortellazzi (Capellio), Paoletta Marrocu (Adela), Vasa Stajkic (Tebaldo), and Christian Senn (Lorenzo). Sesto Quatrini conducts the Orchestra Academy of the Teatro alla Scala and the Chorus of the Teatro Municipale, Piacenza (Chorus Master Corrado Casati). Directed for TV by Matteo Ricchetti. Sung in Italian, this is the only video available of this opera. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Enrico di Borgogna

Donizetti Enrico di Borgogna (Henry of Burgundy) opera to a libretto by Bartolomeo Merelli. Directed 2018 by Silvia Paoli at the Teatro Sociale in Bergamo, Italy as part of the Donizetti Opera Festival. Stars Anna Bonitatibus (Enrico), Sonia Ganassi (Elisa), Levy Sekgapane (Guido), Francesco Castoro (Pietro), Luca Tittoto (Gilberto), Lorenzo Barbieri (Brunone), Federica Vitali (Geltrude), and Matteo Mezzaro (Nicola). Alessandro De Marchi conducts the Academia Montis Regalis and the Coro Donizetti Opera (Chorus Master Fabio Tartari). Set design by Andrea Belli; costume design by Valeria Donata Bettella; lighting design by Fiammetta Baldiserri; assistant direction by Tecla Gucci. Directed for TV by Adriano Figari and Matteo Ricchetti; sound recording by Rino Trasi and Giuseppe Famularo. Sung in Italian. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Le Villi

Puccini Le Villi opera to a libretto by Ferdinando Fontana. Directed 2018 by Francesco Saponaro at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino. Stars Elia Fabbian (Guglielmo Wulf), Maria Teresa Leva (Anna), Leonardo Caimi (Robert), and Tony Laudadio (Narrator). Marco Angius conducts the Orchestra e Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (Chorus Master Lorenzo Fratini). Also stars dancers from Compagnia Nuovo BallettO di ToscanA and special extras Elena Barsotti, Gaia Mazzeranghi, and Paolo Arcangeli. Set design by Francesco Saporano; costume design by Chiara Aversano; lighting design by Pasquale Mari; choreography by Susanna Sastro; assistant direction by Veronica Bolognani; assistant set design by Lucia Imperato. Directed for TV by Matteo Ricchetti; video editing by Adriano Figari; sound recording by Rino Trasi, Vera Zanotti, and Giuseppe Famularo. Sung in Italian. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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