Arthaus Musik

Le Coq d’Or

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov Le coq d’or (The Golden Cockerel) opera to a libretto by Vladimir Bel’sky. Staged 2002 by Ennosuke Ichikawa at the Théâtre Musical de Paris - Châtelet. Stars Albert Schagidullin (King Dodon), Ilya Levinsky (Prince Guldon), Andrei Breus (Prince Afron), Ilya Bannik (General Polkan), Elena Manistina (Amelfa), Barry Banks (Astrologer), Olga Trifonova (Queen of Shemakha), and Yuri Maria Saenz (Golden Cockerel). Kent Nagano conducts the Orchestre de Paris and the Chorus of The Mariinsky Theatre (Arndrei Petrenko Chorus Master). Stage direction by Isao Takashima with assistant Nobuo Ichikawa; set design by Setsu Asakura with assistant Yasue Itod; costumes by Tomio Mohni; make-up by Suzanne Pisteur; lighting by Jean Kalman; choreography by Kanshino Fujima with assistant Sakon Fujima. Sung in Russian with subtitles in English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, and Chinese. Directed for TV by Thomas Grimm. Released in 2012, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A-

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Alcina

Handel Alcina opera to a libretto by an unknown author. Directed 2010 by Adrian Noble at the Wiener Staatsoper.  Stars Anja Harteros (Alcina), Vesselina Kasarova (Ruggiero), Veronica Cangemi (Morgana), Kristina Hammarström (Bradamante), Alois Mühlbacher (Oberto), Benjamin Bruns (Oronte), and Adam Plachetka (Melisso). Marc Minkowski conducts Les Musiciens du Louvre - Grenoble (Chorus Director Thomas Lang). Stage musicians are Thibault Noally (Violin), Nils Wieboldt (Cello), Florian Cousin (Flute), Gilberto Caserio (Recorder), Toshinori Ozaki (Theorbo), Francesco Corti and Johannes Maria Bogner (Harpsichord). Chorus members are Hannelore Auer, Gilles Combecave, Arina Holecek, Christian Jung, Jens Musger, Richard Neugebauer, Martina Reder, Barbara Reiter, Barbara Sommerbauer, Cornelia Sonnleithner, Ion Tibrea, and Oleg Zalytskiy. Dancers provided by the Wiener Staatsballett. Set and costumes by Anthony Ward; lighting by Jean Kalman; choreography by Sue Lefton. Directed for TV by Matthias Leutzendorff. Zoltan Glied corrected pointed out that the sound for this title was recorded using 96kHz/24-bit sound sampling. This makes this the first opera recording published (we think) in state-of-the-art sound and HD video. Sung in Italian. Released  2011, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: C+

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Tchaikovsky Complete Symphonies

Tchaikovsky The Complete Symphonies box set. This is not a collection of titles previously published separately. This box includes six symphonies performed on three separate days. Philippe Jordan conducts the Paris Opera Orchestra for each performance. The symphonies are split across three discs as follows:

  1. Symphony No. 1 “Winter Dreams,” Symphony No. 5. Performed at the Opera Bastille, October 12, 2017.

  2. Symphony No. 2 “Little Russia,” Symphony No. 4. Performed at the Philharmonie de Paris, March 27, 2018.

  3. Symphony No. 3 “Polish,” Symphony No. 6 “Pathétique.” Performed at the Philharmonie de Paris, May 15, 2018.

Released 2019, the 3 discs have 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Prokofiev Complete Symphonies and Concertos

Prokofiev Complete Symphonies and Concertos box set. Valery Gergiev conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Mariinsky Theatre (Principal Chorus Master Andrei Petrenko) at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow and the Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, April 2016. Features soloists Denis Kozhukhin (Piano), Denis Matsuev (Piano), Leonidas Kavakos (Violin), Daniil Trifonov (Piano), Igor Morozov (Tenor), Sergei Redkin (Piano), Vadym Kholodenko (Piano), Kristof Barati (Violin), Olga Borodina (Mezzo-soprano), Yulia Matochkina (Mezzo-soprano), Mikhail Petrenko (Bass), Alexei Petrenko (Narrator), and Alexander Ramm (Cello). The symphonic and choral works included in this box set are spread over three Blu-ray discs.

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Thaïs

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 costume design by Stefano Poda! Directed for TV by Tiziano Mancini. Sung in French. Released 2009, disc has dts-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound. Grade B+

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La voix humaine and Le château de Barbe-Bleue

La Voix humaine (English: The Human Voice) and Le Château de Barbe-Bleue (Hungraian: A kékszakállú herceg vára; English: Bluebeard's Castle) double bill directed 2015 by Krzysztof Warlikowski at the Palais Garnier:

  • Francis Poulenc La Voix humaine one-act opera to a libretto by Jean Cocteau. Stars Barbara Hannigan (Her) and Claude Bardouil (Him, a silent role).

  • Béla Bartók Le Château de Barbe-Bleue one-act opera to a libretto by Béla Balázs. Stars John Relyea (Duc) and Ekaterina Gubanova (Judith). Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the Paris Opera Orchestra. 

Set and costume design by Małgorzaty Szczęśniak; lighting design by Felice Ross; video by Denis Guéguin; choreography by Claude Bardouil; dramaturgy by Christian Longchamp; sound recording and mixing by Radio France. Directed for TV by Stéphane Metge; produced by Antoine Perset, Denis Morlière, and Laurent Métivier. Sung in French (La Voix humaine) and Hungarian (Le Château de Barbe-Bleue). Released 2018, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Adriana Lecouvreur

Francesco Cilea Adriana Lecouvreur opera to libretto by Arturo Colautti. Directed 2009 by Lorenzo Mariani at the Teatro Regio Torino. Stars Micaela Carosi (Adriana Lecouvreur of the Comédie Française), Marcelo Álvarez (Maurizio, Count of Saxony), Marianne Cornetti (La Principessa di Bouillon), Alfonso Antoniozzi (Michonnet, stage director of the Comédie Française), Simone Del Savio (Il Principe di Bouillon), Luca Casalin (L'abate di Chazeuil, or the Abbé), Antonella De Chiara (Madamigella Jouvenot), Patrizia Porzio (Madamigella Dangeville), Carlo Bosi (Poisson), Diego Matamoros (Quinault), Giuseppe Milano (Un Maggiordomo), and Carola Iannuzzi (Una Cameriera). Renato Palumbo conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro Regio Torino (Chorus Master: Claudio Fenoglio). Sets by Nicola Rubertelli; costumes by Luisa Spinatelli; choreography by Michele Merola; lighting by Claudio Schmid. Directed for TV by Matteo Ricchetti. Sung in Italian. Released in 2010, disc has 7.1 dts-HD Master Audio surround sound. Grade: B-

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Tosca

Puccini Tosca opera to libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. Directed 2001 as a 35mm celluloid film opera movie by Benoît Jacquot at a movie studio in Germany. Stars Angela Gheorghiu [when she was young] (Floria Tosca), Roberto Alagna [then he was hot] (Mario Cavaradossi), Ruggero Raimondi [when he still looked scary] (Baron Scarpia), Maurizio Muraro (Cesare Angelotti), Enrico Fissore (Sacristan), David Cangelosi (Spoletta), and Sorin Coliban (Sciarrone). Antonio Pappano [when he was just getting started with the Royal Opera] conducts the Royal Opera House Orchestra, the Royal Opera Chorus (Chorus Director Terry Edwards), and The Tiffin Boys Choir (Chorus Master Simon Toyne). Set design by Sylvain Chauvelot; costume design by Christian Gasc. Released 2017, package includes 2 discs: a 2K (old fashioned) Blu-ray and a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. It's important to note, however, that this title does not have the High Dynamic Range (HDR) feature or any of the advanced sound technology available with the new 4K films. As best I can tell, the only difference between the two discs in the package is the higher 4K resolution. Sung in Italian. Released 2017, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: B+

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Ernani

Verdi Ernani opera to a libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. Directed 2017 by Jean-Louis Grinda at the Opéra Monte-Carlo. Stars Ramón Vargas (Ernani), Ludovic Tézier (Don Carlo), Alexander Vinogradov (Don Ruy Gomez de Silva), Svetla Vassilieva (Elvira), Karine Ohanyan (Giovanna), Maurizio Pace (Don Riccardo), and Gabriele Ribis (Jago). Daniele Callegari conducts the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Monte-Carlo Opera Chorus (Chorus Master Stefano Visconti). Set design by Isabelle Partiot-Pieri; costumes by Teresa Acone; lights by Laurent Castaingt; film direction by Stéphan Aubé; produced by Frederic Allain (Wahoo). Released 2017, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Così fan tutte

Mozart Così fan tutte opera and dance program to libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte. Directed 2017 by choreographer Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker at the Opéra national de Paris! Singing stars are Jacquelyn Wagner (Fiordiligi), Michèle Losier (Dorabella), Frédéric Antoun (Ferrando), Philippe Sly (Guglielmo), Paulo Szot (Don Alfonso), and Ginger Costa-Jackson (Despina). The corresponding dancing stars are Cynthia Loemij (Fiordiligi), Samantha Van Wissen (Dorabella), Julien Monty (Ferrando), Michaël Pomero (Guglielmo), Boštjan Antončič (Don Alfonso), and Marie Goudot (Despina), all supported by other dancers of de Keersmaeker's Rosas dance company.  Philippe Jordan conducts the Paris Opera Orchestra and Chorus (Chorus Master Alessandro di Stefano). Set and lighting design by Jan Versweyveld; costume design by An D'Huys; choreography by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker; dramaturgy by Jan Vandenhouwe. Directed for video by Louise Narboni. Released 2017, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Mozart Mangled---Malsponsorship and Reverse Product Placement

This is a report on recent HDVDs envolving the mangling of Mozart music in one case of malsponsorship of public domain art and in another case of reverse product placement advertisement.  Volkswagen and Rubolph Buchbinder are the culprits in the malsponsorship mangle. Red Bull is the culprit in the reverse product placement. First I'll introduce the two HDVDs: 

1. Mozart Piano Concertos played 2014 by Rudolf Buchbinder in Dresden. Buchbinder also conducts the Staatskapelle Dresden in:

  1. Piano Concerto No. 20
  2. Piano Concerto No. 21  "Elvira Madigan"
  3. Piano Concerto No. 27

There is a bonus extra about the making of this recording in 4K. This is a 2K product---it appears there could be a 4K version later. Directed for video by Michael Beyer. Released 2016, disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound output. Grade: F

2. Mozart Die Entführung aus dem Serail opera to libretto by Johann Gottlieb Stephanie (from Christoph Friedrich Bretzner). Directed 2013 by Adrian Marthaler at the Salzburg Airport Hangar-7 entertainment complex (as part of the Salzburg Festival) Stars Desirée Rancatore (Konstanze), Tobias Moretti (Bassa Selim, spoken role), Javier Camarena (Belmonte), Rebecca Nelsen (Blonde), Thomas Ebenstein (Pedrillo), and Kurt Rydl (Osmin). Hans Graf conducts the Camerata Salzburg and Salzburger Bachchor (Chorus Master Alois Glaßner). Costumes by Lena Hoschek; dramatury by Ronny Dietrich; directed for TV by Felix Breisach. Released 2014, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: F

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Hänsel und Gretel

Engelbert Humperdinck Hänsel und Gretel opera with revised libretto by Hans-Josef Irmen (based on, but different from the traditional poetry of Adelheid Wette, the composer's sister). Directed 2007 by Johannes Felsenstein at the Anhalt Theatre Dessau. Stars Ludmil Kuntschew (Peter, the broom maker/the Witch), Alexandra Petersamer (Gertrud, Peter's wife), Sabine Noack (Hänsel, the son), Cornelia Marschall (Gretel, the daughter), and Viktorija Kaminskaite (Sandman/Dewman). Markus L. Frank conducts the Dessau Anhalt Philharmonic and the Anhalt Theatre Children's Choir (Chorus Master Dorislava Kuntscheva). Set and costumes by Steghen Rieckhoff; dramaturgy by Susanne Schulz; directed for TV by Brooks Riley. Released  2009, disc has 7.1 dts-HD Master Audio. Grade: A

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Beethoven Symphonies 1-9

Beethoven Symphonies 1-9 (or Beethoven Complete Symphonies) box set. Philippe Jordan conducts the Orchestre de L'Opéra National de Paris in all nine Beethoven symphonies. Other performers featured in Symphony No. 9 are Ricarda Merbeth (Soprano), Daniela Sindram (Mezzo-Soprano), Robert Dean Smith (Tenor), Günter Groissböck (Bass), and the Choeurs de L'Opéra National de Paris (José Luis Basso Chorus Master).  Grade: NA

Richard Osborne in the December 2016 Gramophone at pages 51-53 condemns this box for weak sound quality. The presentation of technical information about this box seems confusing. Nobody seems to want credit for the video. One has to wonder if sloppiness in the cover also suggests carelessness in the recordings. Can you sometimes judge the book by its cover?

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Rigoletto

Giuseppe Verdi Rigoletto opera to libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. Directed 2006 by Gilbert Deflo at the Zurich Opera House. Stars Leo Nucci (Rigoletto), Piotr Beczala (Duke), Elena Moşuc (Gilda), László Polgár (Sparafucile), Katharina Peetz (Maddalena), Kismara Pessatti (Giovanna), Rolf Haunstein (Monterone), Valeriy Murga (Marullo), Bogusław Bidziński (Borsa), Morgan Moody (Count Ceprano), Angela Kerrison (Countess Ceprano), Manuel Betancourt (Usher), and Martina Welschenbach. (Page to the Duchess). Dancers: Camilla Hoffmann, Megan Laehn, Julia Cheremeteff, Patricia Fässler, Eric Müller, Maurizio Tuozzo, Christian Altenburger, and Marc Meyer. Nello Santi conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Zurich Opera House (Chorus Master Ernst Raffelsberger). Stage production by Aglaja Nicolet; set design by William Orlandi; lighting by Jürgen Hoffmann; choreography by Megan Laehn; directed for TV by Felix Breisach. Released 2008, disc features 7.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: A-

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