Opus Arte

Die Zauberflöte

Mozart Die Zauberflöte (the Magic Flute) opera to libretto by Emanuel Schikaneder. Directed 2018 by Lydia Steier at the Salzburg Festival. Stars Matthias Goerne (Sarastro), Mauro Peter (Tamino), Albina Shagimuratova (The Queen of the Night), Christiane Karg (Pamina), Adam Plachetka (Papageno), Maria Nazarova (Papagena), Michael Porter (Monostatos), Klaus Maria Brandauer (Grandfather), Tareq Nazmi (The Speaker), and the Wiener Sängerknaben (Three Boys). Constantinos Carydis conducts the Wiener Philharmoniker and the Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor (Chorus Master Ernst Raffelsberger). Stage design by Katharina Schlipf; costume design by Ursula Kudrna; lighting by Olaf Freese; directed for video by Michael Beyer. Disc has 5.0 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Samuel Barber Vanessa opera to a libretto by Gian Carlo Menotti. Directed 2018 by Keith Warner at Glyndebourne. Stars Emma Bell (Vanessa), Virginie Verrez (Erika), Edgaras Montvidas (Anatol), Rosalind Plowright (The Old Baroness), Donnie Ray Albert (The Old Doctor), William Thomas (Nicholas), and Romanas Kudriašovas (Footman). Jakub Hrůša conducts the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Leader Kevin Lin) and the Glyndebourne Chorus (Chorus Master Nicholas Jenkins). Design by Ashley Martin-Davis; lighting design by Mark Jonathan; movement direction by Michael Barry; projection design by Alex Uragallo. Directed for video by François Roussillon; produced by George Bruell. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Woolf Works

Woolf Works ballet. Directed and choreographed by Wayne McGregor. Original music by Max Richter. Staged 2017 at the Royal Opera House (revival of 2015 production). Main stars are Gary Avis, Matthew Ball, Federico Bonelli, Alessandra Ferri (special appearance), Francesca Hayward, Paul Kay, Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae, Natalia Osipova, Calvin Richardson, Beatriz Stix-Brunell, Akane Takada, Eric Underwood, and Edward Watson as well as other members of the Royal Ballet and students of the Royal Ballet School (Christopher Powney Artistic Director). Features soprano Anush Hovhannisyan and speaker Gillian Anderson. Koen Kessels conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House (Concert Master Vasko Vassilev). There are 3 separate but related works presented, all inspired by the writings of Virginia Woolf:

  1. I Now, I Then (based on the 1925 novel Mrs Dalloway, designed by Ciguë

  2. Becomings (inspired by the 1928 novel Orlando), designed by We Not I [not to be confused with the name of Act 1above]

  3. Tuesday (inspired by the 1931 novel The Waves), designed by Wayne McGregor

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Swan Lake

Swan Lake ballet. Music by Tchaikovsky. Choreography by Liam Scarlett after Lev Ivanov and Marius Petipa with additonal choreography by Frederick Ashton. Directed 2018 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 and Francesca Hayward (Prince Siegfried’s Younger Sisters). Koen Kessels conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House. White Swan solo by Concert Master Ania Safonova; Black Swan solo by Concert Master Peter Swan. Designs by John Macfarlane; lighting by David Finn. Directed for TV by Ross MacGibbon. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. 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 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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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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Manon Ballet

Kenneth MacMillan's Manon ballet performed 2015 at the Royal Opera House. Music consists of excerpts from the works Jules Massenet arranged and orchestrated by Martin Yates, as originally compiled by Leighton Lucas with the collaboration of Hilda Gaunt. Choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan; staged by Julie LIncoln and Christopher Saunders. Stars Sarah Lamb (Manon), Vadim Muntagirov (Des Grieux), Ryoichi Hirano (Lescaut), Gary Avis (Monsieur G.M.), Itziar Mendizabal (Lescaut’s Mistress), Kristen McNally (Madame), Thomas Whitehead (The Gaoler), James Hay (Beggar Chief), and Artists of The Royal Ballet. Martin Yates conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House (Concert Master Vasko Vassilev). Designs by Nicholas Georgiadis; lighting design by John B. Read; directed for the screen by Ross MacGibbon. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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Giselle ballet. Choreographed and directed by Akram Khan. Modern musical composition and sound design by Vincenzo Lamagna after themes from Adolphe Adam. Staged 2018 at the English National Ballet. Stars Tamara Rojo (Giselle), James Streeter (Albrecht), Jeffrey Cirio (Hilarion), Stina Quagebeur (Myrtha, Queen of the Wilis), Begoña Cao (Bathilde), and Fabian Reimair (Landlord). Gavin Sutherland directs the English National Ballet Philharmonic. Visual and costume design by Tim Yip; orchestration by Gavin Sutherland; lighting design by Mark Henderson; dramaturgy by Ruth Little; assistant choreography by Andrej Petrović; rehearsal direction by Mavin Khoo; sound design by Yvonne Gilbert. Directed for TV by Ross MacGibbon. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: NA

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The Frederick Ashton Collection: Volume One

The Frederick Ashton Collection: Volume One Box Set released 2018. 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. Ashton Celebration (with ballets La Valse, Meditation from Thaïs, Voices of Spring, Monotones I and II, and Marguerite and Armand). Grade: A.

  2. Ashton Rhapsody and The Two Pigeons. Grade: B for Rhapsody, C+ for The Two Pigeons)

  3. Ashton Triple Bill (with ballets Symphonic Variations, Marguerite and Armand, and The Dream). Grade: A for Symphonic Variations; A- for Marguerite and Armand; C+ for Dream.

Total Grade: B+.

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Bernstein Celebration

Bernstein Celebration ballet collection. The Royal Ballet, for the centenary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, performed a triple bill of ballets set to different pieces by Bernstein. Directed 2018 by Kevin O’Hare. The performances are as follows:

  1. Yugen. Set to Chichester Psalms. Choreographed by Wayne McGregor. Stars Federico Bonelli, William Bracewell, Harry Churches, Melissa Hamilton, Francesca Hayward, Chisato Katsura, Paul Kay, Sarah Lamb, Calvin Richardson, Joseph Sissens, and Akane Takada. Koen Kessels conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House (Co-Concert Master Sergey Levitin; Assistant Concert Master Melissa Carstairs) and Members of the Royal Opera Chorus and Extra Chorus (Chorus Director William Spaulding).

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Lessons in Love and Violence

Lessons in Love and Violence opera by British composer George Benjamin to a libretto by Martin Crimp, a British playwright. Directed 2018 by Katie Mitchell at the Royal Opera House. Stars Stéphane Degout (King), Barbara Hannigan (Isabel), Gyula Orendt (Gaveston/Stranger), Peter Hoare (Mortimer), Samuel Boden (Boy/Young King), Ocean Barrington-Cook (Girl), Jennifer France (Witness 1/Singer 1/Woman 1), Krisztina Szabó (Witness 2/Singer 2/Woman 2), and Andri Björn Róbertsson (Witness 3/Madman). The composer himself conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House (Co-Concert Master Sergey Levitin). Designs by Vicki Mortimer; lighting by James Farncombe; movement direction and associate direction by Joseph Alford; directed for the screen by Margaret Williams. Released 2019, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade NA

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Ashton Triple Bill

Triple bill of shorter ballets choreographed by Frederick Ashton---each work is quite different and unrelated to the others. All were recorded on the same day in June 2017 at a revival in honor of Ashton. Because the works are so different, we grade each separately:

  • Symphonic Variations. Music by César Franck. Features Marianela Nuñez, Vadim Muntagirov, Yasmine Haghdi, James Hay, Yuhui Choe, and Tristan Dyer. Solo piano by Paul Stobart. Designs by Sophie Fedorovitch; lighting by John B. Read, staging by Wendy Ellis Somes and Malin Thoors.

  • Marguerite and Armand. Music by Franz Liszt. Stars Zenaida Yanowsky (Marguerite), guest Roberto Bolle (Armand), Christopher Saunders (Armand’s father), Gary Avis (Duke), Mica Bradbury (Maid) and the following as admirers of Margarite:

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Tchaikovsky Ballet Box Set

Tchaikovsky---The Classic Ballets is a box set with 3 titles previously issued by Opus Arte as individual HDVDs. We have previously reviewed all of them, and all are available at full price. So follow our links here to learn more about each title:

  1. Swan Lake with Natalia Osipova and Matthew Golding, which we graded B-.

  2. The Sleeping Beauty with Marianela Nuñez and Vadim Muntagirov, which we graded A+.

  3. The Nutcracker with Lauren Cuthbertson and Federico Bonelli, which we graded B.

Combined Grade: B+

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Shakespeare Coriolanus play. Directed 2017 by Angus Jackson. Stars Charles Aitken (Cominus), Tony Boncza (Second Volscian Senator/Volscian Servant/Roman Citizen), James Corrigan (Tullus Aufidius), Sope Dirisu (Coriolanus), Bally Gill (Roman Citizen/Aedile/Roman Soldier), Robert Ginty (Nicanor/Roman Citizen), Haydn Gwynne (Volumnia), Ben Hall (Titus Lartius), Sean Hart (Adrian/Roman Citizen/Aedile), Paul Jesson (Menenius), Martina Laird (Junius Brutus), Geoffrey Lumb (First Citizen/Volscian Soldier), Justine Marriott (Second Citizen/Volscian Soldier), Hector Magraw (Young Martius), Christopher Middleton (Volscian Soldier), Hannah Morrish (Virgilia), Jackie Morrison (Sicinius Veletus), Esther Niles (Gentlewoman/Roman Soldier/Volscian Citizen/Volscian Watch), Katherine Toy (Valeria, Volscian Servant, Roman Citizen), Rebecca Wingate (First Volscian Senator/Aedile/Roman Citizen), Simon Yadoo (Herald/Aedile/Volscian Servant), and Assad Zaman (Volscian Watch).

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