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.

May 21. We just updated and added screenshots to our story on the Massenet Thaïs opera that was published in 2009.

We continue to port the website from Squarespace5 (best on desktop) to SS7, which looks good on mobile devices and the desktop. On the new homepage, you see 8 large "tiles" with the most recent stories. These 8 stories are native SS7. To see earlier stories, go to the Alphalist or Search. Desktop users should find old stories look about the same. If you are using a mobile device, there may be "fit and finish" issues until we complete the conversion.

We estimate we are about 50 percent finished with the raw conversion. This process takes time as there are many images and PDFs that have to be imported individually. But we are making process! We expect to be finished with "convert'n"  by the end of June. After that point, fit and finish will be our priority.

There seems to be a slow down in the number of new titles from publishers the last few months (February, March, April). It could just be that many projects were rushed to come out last holiday season. Or it could be that publishers are stating to take a more "wait and see" approach when it comes to gauging future demand for optical discs (vs. streaming services). We also note that Oppo is withdrawing from manufacturing disc playing machines --- not a vote of confidence in the Blu-ray disc!

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Jules Massenet Thaïs to libretto by Louis Gallet. Directed 2008 by Stefano Poda at the Teatro Regio Torino.  Stars Barbara Frittoli (Thaïs, actress and courtesan), Lado Ataneli (Athanaël, a Cenobite monk), Alessandro Liberatore (Nicias, a philosopher), Maurizio Lo Piccolo (Paléman, an old monk), Diego Matamoros (A servant), Eleonora Buratto (Crobyle, a slave), Ketevan Kemoklidze (Myrtale, a slave), Nadežda Serdyuk (Albine, an abbess), and Daniela Schillaci (La Charmeuse, a ballet dancer).  Gianandrea Noseda conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of The Teatro Regio Di Torino (Chorus Master Roberto Gabbiani). Choreography, set, lighting, and costumes by Stefano Poda! Directed for TV by Tiziano Mancini. Released  2009, disc has dts-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound. Grade B+

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Puccini Turandot opera to a libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni and as completed by Lucio Berio. Directed 2016 by Enrico Stinchelli at the Torre del Lago Puccini Festival. Stars Rebeka Lokar (Turandot), Rudy Park (Calaf), Franceska Cappelletti (Liù), Vladimir Reutov (Old Emperor), Ernesto Morillo (Timur), Mauro Buda (Ping), Ugo Tarquini (Pang), Tiziano Baroncini (Pong), Claudio Ottino (The Mandarin), and Alberto Petricca (Prince of Persia), Anna Poala Troiano (First Handmaid), and Donatella De Caro (Second Handmaid). Jacopo Sipari di Pescasseroli conducts the Orchestra, Chorus, and Boy Soprano Chorus of the Puccini Festival (Chorus Master Viviana Apicella).

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La Voix humaine and Le Château de Barbe-Bleue

Double feature: (1) La Voix humaine (English: The Human Voice) opera by Francis Poulenc to a libretto by Jean Cocteau and (2) Le Château de Barbe bleue (Hungraian: A kékszakállú herceg vára; English: Bluebeard's Castle) opera by Béla Bartók to a libretto by Béla Balázs. Directed in 2015 by Krzysztof Warlikowski at the Palais Garnier. La Voix humaine stars Barbara Hannigan (Her) and Claude Bardouil (Him, a silent role); Le Château de Barbe bleue stars John Relyea (Duc) and Ekaterina Gubanova (Judith). Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the Paris Opera Orchestra. 

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La Campana Sommersa

Ottorino Respighi La Campana Sommersa opera to a libretto by Claudio Guastella. Directed by Pier Francesco Maestrini in 2016 at the Teatro Lirico di Cagliari. Stars Valentina Farcas (Rautendelein), Maria Luigia Borsi (Magda), Agostina Smimmero (An Old Witch), Angelo Villari (Enrico), Thomas Gazheli (The Ondino), Filippo Adami (A Faun), Dario Russo (A Priest), Nicola Ebau (A Schoolmaster), and Mauro Secci (A Barber). Donato Renzetti conducts the Orchestra del Teatro Lirico di Cagliari, the Coro del Teatro Lirico di Cagliari (Chorus Master Gaetano Mastroiaco), and the Coro di Voci Bianche del Conservatorio 'G. P. da Palestrina' di Cagliari (Chorus Master Enrico di Maira).

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Lucio Silla

Mozart Lucio Silla opera to libretto by Giovanni de Gamerra. Directed 2017 by Claus Guth at the Teatro Real. Stars Kurt Streit (Lucio Silla), Patricia Petibon (Giunia), Silvia Tro Santafé (Cecilio), Inga Kalna (Lucio Cinna), María José Moreno (Celia), and Kenneth Tarver (Aufidio). Ivor Bolton conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Real de Madrid (Chorus Master Andrés Máspero). Assistant stage direction by Tine Buyse; set and costume design by Christian Schmidt; original lighting design by Manfred Voss; revival lighting design by Jürgen Hoffman; dramaturgy by Ronny Dietrich; directed for TV by Jérémie Cuvillier; produced by Xavier Dubois & Natalia Camacho. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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La Clemenza di Tito

Mozart La Clemenza di Tito opera to a libretto by Pietro Metastasio adapted by Caterino Mazzolà. Directed 2017 by Claus Guth at Glyndebourne. Stars Richard Croft (Tito), Anna Stéphany (Sesto), Alice Coote (Vitellia), Clive Bayley (Publio), Michèle Losier (Annio), and Joélle Harvey (Servilia). Robin Ticciati conducts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (Leader Matthew Truscott) and the Glyndebourne Chorus (Chorus Master Jeremy Bines). Designed by Christian Schmidt; movement direction by Ramses Sigl; lighting design by Olaf Winter; production design by Arian Andiel; dramaturgy by Ronny Dietrich. Executive producer George Bruell; directed for film by François Roussillon. Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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A Tango Evening at the Teatro Colón

A Tango Evening at the Teatro Colón concert. In 2016,  Daniel Barenboim conducts the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and César Salgán leads Quinteto Real at the Teatro Colón. Features Michael Barenboim on violin and César Salgán on piano.

This title is a celebration of two Argentinian composers, Alberto Ginastera and Horatio Salgán.

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Benvenuto Cellini

Hector Berlioz Benvenuto Cellini opera to a libretto by Léon de Wailly and Henri Auguste Barbier. Directed 2015 by Terry Gilliam. Stars John Osborn (Benvenuto Cellini), Maurizio Muraro (Gicacomo Balducci), Laurent Naouri (Fieramosca), Orlin Anastassov (Le Pape Clément VII), Nicky Spence (Francesco), Scott Conner (Bernardino), André Morsch (Pompeo), Marcel Beekman (Le Cabaretier), Mariangela Sicilia (Teresa), and Michèle Losier (Ascanio). Sir Mark Elder conducts the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and the Chorus of the Dutch National Opera (Chorus Master Ching-Lien Wu).

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