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Thread: Operas by Handel on DVD, Blu-ray, and CD

          
   
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  1. #16
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Amfortas's Avatar
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    I've got David McVicar's British-Imperialist-by-way-of-Bollywood Glyndebourne production, and it *is* quite wonderful.



    I also want Natalie Dessay in Laurent Pelly's "Night at the Museum" Paris production whenever it comes out on DVD (thanks Aksel for pointing out the YouTube clips!)


  2. #17
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    While we're all curious for the upcoming ones as reported above, this Glyndebourne production mentioned by HC enjoys really wide consensus as one pretty darn excellent DVD. You can go for it with no fear of regretting it, if you don't want to wait for the others. It is truly wonderful.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  4. #18
    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amfortas View Post
    I've got David McVicar's British-Imperialist-by-way-of-Bollywood Glyndebourne production, and it *is* quite wonderful.



    I also want Natalie Dessay in Laurent Pelly's "Night at the Museum" Paris production whenever it comes out on DVD (thanks Aksel for pointing out the YouTube clips!)

    I've watched this complete on some kind of streaming media - my enthusiasm for this is curbed by the excessive ornamentation in some of Dessay's da capo sections , verging on bad taste (not Dessay's idea apparently, but rather Emmanuelle Haïm's).

    I will add to the chorus of voices recommending The Glyndebourne production. It is STUNNING. It is my desert island DVD. It got my then 6-year-old into opera (4 hours of baroque da capo arias, what's more)

    I've also seen the "combat fatigues" version from Copenhagen -



    Glorious singing from Andreas Scholl, but he's about as "World Conqueror" as a lamb, and there is a curious running joke involving mentions of Cleopatra's hair "che bel crin" and her sporting a serious of increasingly tatty wigs until she goes bald.

    This version from Opera Australia would suit determined traditionalists -



    Graham Pushee is a fine Caesar and Yvonne Kenny sounds lovely although she a little matronly for Cleopatra. But the Sesto has a voice like nails on a blackboard aaargh and the rest of the cast is less than compelling.
    Natalie

  5. #19
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Dark_Angel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HarpsichordConcerto View Post
    Easy question to answer, which we all agree unanimously:-

    Sarah Connolly (Cesare), Danielle de Niese (Cleopatra), Angelika Kirchschlager (Sesto), Christophe Dumaux (Tolomeo), Patricia Bardon (Cornelia), Christopher Maltman (Achilla) & Rachid Ben Abdeslam (Nireno)

    The Glyndebourne Chorus & Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, William Christie (conductor) & David McVicar (stage director)

    One of the chosen few that was so good I had to sell the original DVD version (which was very high quality) and buy the blu ray that was later released, one of the very best opera performances on disc

  6. #20
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark_Angel View Post
    One of the chosen few that was so good I had to sell the original DVD version (which was very high quality) and buy the blu ray that was later released, one of the very best opera performances on disc
    I have the DVD version! Hate it when that happens. But I'm happy with it. It's not the cost that bothers me with a Blu-ray, rather, it's the principle of repeating the identical purchase with this one, and then asking myself why then not repeat the purchase of Blu-ray perfect subsitutes in similar cases?! I'm trying not to open the flood gates!

  7. #21
    Senior Member Top Contributor Member Dark_Angel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HarpsichordConcerto View Post
    I have the DVD version! Hate it when that happens. But I'm happy with it. It's not the cost that bothers me with a Blu-ray, rather, it's the principle of repeating the identical purchase with this one, and then asking myself why then not repeat the purchase of Blu-ray perfect subsitutes in similar cases?! I'm trying not to open the flood gates!
    Beside the superior picture and sound......you could rationalize the extra cost that there are only two blu ray discs and you spend less time getting up to change the discs

  8. #22
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Watching this now:



    I like it so far. The modern costumes (or rather, vintage fascist-era costumes) and black lipstick are not bothering me as much as they have bothered others here. Antonacci is a very attractive woman and I relish any opportunity to see her. The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment is excellent as usual. I like most Glyndebourne productions, I think they have good taste, even when they do a bit of regietheatre. This production has good singers and a good orchestra in good conducting hands, Handel's music is beautiful, what's not to like? There's not much to gain with the updating of the setting, but there's not much to lose either. The essential elements: good singing (especially by Scholl, a show stopper!), decent acting by singers who look the part, good orchestra, good conductor - are still there.

    Case in point, this gorgeous duet with beautiful Antonacci and exquisite contralto Scholl:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_631iPcGo0
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  9. #23
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Here, I've just watched this monument to Eurotrash and the worst kind of Regietheater:



    Strangely enough, if you try to forget that you're watching Ariodante, it even works. The staging has some striking moments, and can even be somewhat erotic.

    But when you think that this is Ariodante, one of the most beautiful and romantic Handel operas, then you realize that this production is a complete disaster.

    First of all, they had the bad taste of translating the libretto from Italian into English. Bad move!
    Second, the cast has several instances of people not looking the part, less than enthusiastic acting, weird facial expressions that don't match the moment or the emotions portrayed by Handel, and very variable singing.

    Anyway, this is such a good opera that they weren't able to totally ruin it, but they tried really hard.

    I think I'm for the death penalty for "smart" stage directors. (Before someone calls the police, I'm speaking figuratively).
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); May 12th, 2013 at 12:11 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  10. #24
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    So, I'm watching this Rinaldo right now (just started) and it looks very silly indeed, but one thing must be said: the singing is very good. The countertenor David Daniels doing Rinaldo and the soprano doing Almirena (Deborah York) are both excellent (and she's cute! - it's her on the cover picture), and Armida hasn't even made her entrance yet. So, worst updating ever or not, I guess I'll still enjoy it because the opera is so musically beautiful and one can never entirely dismiss a version with good singing.

    Edit: Whoa! The Armida is very hot! And she can sing too!!! It's Noemi Nadelmann, worthy of consideration in our Loveliest Sopranos builder!





    Something tells me that I'll enjoy this version more than Natalie did!
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  11. #25
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    OK, I've finished the Rinaldo, and I must say that in spite of the *extremely* silly production complete with a giant bobble-head puppet, this DVD is not so bad, for a number of factors: *very* good singing, two attractive leading females, some scenes with beautiful visuals especially in the second and third acts, and a *very* good one-hour documentary about Handel's operas in the bonus features. I can't say I wasn't entertained.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  12. #26
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Handel: Orlando on blu-ray


    OK, folks, this one is a mixed bag.

    It's William Christie, but not with his orchestra Les Arts Florissants. This time he is a guest conductor, at the helm of the Orchestra "La Scintila" of the Zurich Opernhaus. This is not an opera company I trust at all, but anyway, let's not allow prejudices to get in the way of a fair assessment.

    The Stage Director is Jens-Daniel Herzog, apparently no relation to Werner Herzog.

    The cast has Marijana Mijanovic in the title role, Martina Janková as Angelica, Konstantin Wolff as Zoroastro, Katharina Peetz as Medoro, and Christina Clark as Dorinda.

    The plot is simple (LOL, it actually isn't, and it is quite ridiculous, but who cares?):

    Zoroastro is worried because General Orlando fell in love with Angelica, and while lovesick, is neglecting his military duties. He tells him that he should go to war and forget about love, to no avail. Angelica keeps giving him hopes because she is scared of him but secretly loves Medoro, who is loved by Dorinda. Medoro encourages Dorinda as well but prefers Angelica. Orlando declares to Angelica his love and gives her a bracelet. Dorinda decides that the only way to avoid the ire of a jealous general which might get either herself or Medoro killed - or both - is to elope with Medoro in the middle of the night. However when they are making plans and start kissing each other, Dorinda walks on them and cries out loud, lamenting the fact that Medoro had been fooling her. They are afraid that she'll attract the attention of the general with her crying, and Angelica gives her the bracelet to calm her down. She does, but then rats on them to Orlando, who gets more and more upset, in a jealous rage. Medoro and Angelica elope, Orlando states he will pursue them and kill them, but gets delirious and loses his sanity. Angelica and Medoro come back (why???), Medoro wants to offer himself to be killed, but Zoroastro devises a plan to cure the general of his insanity. He makes Angelica - who is by now despondent because she thinks that the general will kill Medoro - offer herself to be killed by Orlando. Zoroastro manages to fake Angelica's death in the hands of Orlando (how? with magic, I suppose), who then wakes up of his trance, finds himself cured of his madness, and laments the fact that he has murdered Angelica. At this point and to Orlando's surprise, she resuscitates, tells him that she does love Medoro - who then shows up alive and well - and asks for Orlando's blessing. The general says that indeed love should not distract him from war, gives the happy couple his blessing, and everybody (including Dorinda who by then has renounced her love for Medoro - why??) rejoices. Curtain.

    Technically, the blu-ray is impeccable. Perfect DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 and PCM Stereo, subtitles in Italian, English, German, French, and Spanish, full HD picture with 16:9 format, running time of 155 minutes. There is only one problem that knocks down some points in my evalutation: the only extras are trailers for 5 other operas; no interviews, or making-of. Camera work is very appropriate.

    The staging is, of course, updated. These days directors make a point of staging baroque opera in any possible era, except the one intended by the composer and the librettist. This one is no exception. Oh, and there is the usual Regie re-interpretation. Zoroastro, instead of being a magician, is the head psychiatrist in a mental hospital where general Orlando is a patient. Dorinda, rather than a shepherdess, is a nurse. Angelica and Medoro are, well, Angelica and Medoro. We never get to know what in the hell these two are doing in the mental hospital (we know from the opera's libretto who they are supposed to be, but their positions in the original libretto don't really match the idea of the hospital setting - they aren't patients, aren't staff... which is another problem showing that updates have their limitations.

    In terms of scenarios, they are well done for the premise, and not intrusive. Huge walls slide in and out and subdivide the stage in various ways, which are very effective to convey the different rooms in the hospital and to provide enough variety and ample space for the singers/actors, without ever looking too busy or cramped.

    The hospital setting update is not too bad, but not very successful either. Let's say that it is less bad than other Eurotrashy productions (there aren't the usual purposefully shocking scenes or disgusting props that I came to expect from the Regie-gone-mad Zurich Opera House) but the singers visibly struggle to still convey Handel's opera in this environment while singing of completely disparate settings, such as woods, brooks, and deer passing by. But it isn't a complete disaster either - the psychiatric setting still works fairly well for this opera that includes a mad scene and a character who recovers from madness. But you know, it's right there on the edge - a little more Regie, and it would have completely derailed the production.

    Other Regie issues are the added action that is not in the libretto. There is over-sexualization of certain scenes; for example, when Dorinda is singing of how she still loves Medoro while he tells him that his heart belongs to another; the scene is supposed to be one of renouncement and sadness for her, but of course, Regie-gone-mad Zurich Opera makes the poor singer try to frantically undress Medoro and zip down his pants - fortunately she doesn't go any further. There is also a scene in which Dorinda punches Angelica who gets a bleeding nose (this is not in the libretto), and the bloody nose becomes the object of several actions which don't match what is being sung at all. Continuity problems arise - Angelica's bloody-stained clothes suddenly appear clean, then bloody again, then clean again, then bloody again. Obviously the filming was a composite of different evenings and those blood stains weren't on the same spots.

    OK, so, this all sounds terrible, huh? Why have I said that the Regie ** does not completely derail the production? Because it is saved by the superlative acting of the two women who play female roles (not the ones in trouser roles). Martina Janková and Christina Clark are two very accomplished actresses, and somehow they pull it off; they make it work and rescue the Stage Director's silliness. Their rivalry on stage is acted with such vigor and such comic punch (in spite of this being an opera seria), and they develop such an exquisite chemistry, that we forget about all the ridiculously unmatched action/libretto situations. Wow! Some artists these two are! They make this whole thing very entertaining, to tell you the truth, even if it is not exactly what Handel and his anonymous librettist had intended.

    Konstantin Wolff acts his part very well too. The other two characters, however, are no match for this trio's acting abilities. Marijana Mijanovic does OK in terms of acting (not great as the other three, but OK, and her mad scene is not bad), while Katharina Peetz is not a convincing Medoro in a trouser role, and she is not helped by the ridiculous costumes that she/he gets. Most of the other costumes are appropriate (except for one scene when Angelica shows up - for no reason whatsoever - dressed as a Japanese woman - I guess I told you that the Zurich Opera House is Regie-gone-mad, right?), but Medoro's are particularly odd, especially in the final scene. They make of this character a buffoon, which again is not matched by the libretto, in which he does engage in some more noble actions in the second and third acts, after his first act two-faced flirting with two women at the same time.

    In terms of looks, Marijana Mijanovic looks masculine enough (without need for facial hair) but she is just too svelte and tiny to be convincing as the great hero general Orlando. Katharina Peetz, again, is shorthanded by somewhat ridiculous fake facial hair (a thin moustache). Martina Janková looks very attractive and sexy, and her "assets" - cough, cough (those who know me, know what I'm talking about) are generously displayed during the first act when she is in her night gown, but she does dress more modestly during the second and third acts. Christina and Konstantin look their parts. The latter is not helped by the high definition of this blu-ray's image, because we can see that his bald head is fake. Sometimes HD gets in the way of suspension of disbelief...

    Now, for the most important part, the music.

    The opera itself is, of course, spectacular. I really like this one, it's considered by many to be one of Handel's top three in musical terms, and even though it's hard for me to rank them because I very much like pretty much everything that he did, I can see why this opinion could be defended. One of the best features is that Handel this time employs more ensembles than usual, and less da capo arias than usual. The few da capo arias are not extra long. These characteristics make for lively and varied vocal music that won't turn off the non-initiated (for whom the endless succession of long da capo arias in other baroque operas can be unpalatable). I particularly like the trio when Angelica and Medoro are trying to comfort Dorinda when she walks on them making up - they tell her to be brave and move on, she says "no... no..." and they reply "sì... sì..." (the effect is beautiful). The short overture and the instrumental ultra-short intermezzi (listed as sinfoniae) are very delicate and tasteful.

    OK, how well (or not) is the music performed in this production?

    Well, Christie is a Handel specialist and things click pretty well, helped by the spectacular quality of this blu-ray's sound track, and by the period instruments, including the so-called viola d'amore, which supposedly provides a fuller and more resonant sound. And yet... and yet... there is something missing. I believe that what is missing is Christie's own orchestra and his chemistry with them. He tries his best but can't inspire this "La Scintilla" to the same energy and brilliance of his Les Arts Florissants.

    And what about the singing?

    Marijana Mijanovic pretty much ruins this production. Apparently she was coming back after a long absence due to severe health problems and a pregnancy, but you know, she shouldn't have tackled this, if she wasn't well enough. She commits a large number of vocal errors, and one keeps longing for a countertenor instead, such as Scholl or Daniels. She seems too contained, passionless in her singing, and unable to survive her coloratura, which gets worse and worse and seems rather disastrous in the third act.

    Martina Janková, on the other hand, steals the show. While at the very top of her range she doesn't do as well, she compensates for it with a pleasant timbre and a big dose of vitality. I loved her performance (I've talked about her acting and her looks already) and will be looking forward to catching her in other roles.

    Christina Clark, while not as good as Martina (due to being uneven throughout the performance, unlike Martina who pretty much shines every single time she is on stage), sings beautifully as well, and at times exquisitely so.

    Konstantin Wolff is a very good bass. He performs his part almost perfectly, except for a tendency to lose too much volume during his lowest notes, but these moments are rare and most of the time his singing is excellent.

    Katharina Peetz does OK, with no fireworks but no blunders either.

    My verdict: score/vocal writing 100, libretto 88, staging 75, acting 90, singing 87, orchestra 90, blu-ray technical quality 95 (not 100 due to the absence of interviews and making-of).

    Average, 89, or B+.

    It is worth buying? Yes, it is. There are better stagings of Handel operas out there, but this one is not terrible, and the opera itself is musically very beautiful. There is also no competition that I know of.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  13. #27
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Handel: Hercules on DVD


    Handel's Hercules sung in English, 2004(LI) - William Christie - Les Arts Florissants
    Opéra National de Paris, stage director Luc Bondy
    Hercules - William Shimell
    Dejanira - Joyce DiDonato
    Hyllus - Toby Spence
    Iole - Ingela Bohlin
    Lichas - Malena Ernman
    Priest of Jupiter - Simon Kirkbridge

    This is opera, folks. This is why opera is the most satisfying and complete art form.
    This is why it's been enduring for 400 years.

    The start point is Greek mythology. It passes by Handel's precise vocal and instrumental music that portrays these emotions so accurately. It lands on the 21st century with modern clothing, and the result is an arc that hails from Antiquity and touches the modern man, reminding us that it is all about the human condition, which remains the same for the last 3,000 years, and is exquisitly rendered here.

    Every single note and every single facial expression contribute to a thrilling rollercoaster of emotions. All artists involved with this production, from chorus members to musicians to principals to conductor, are at the top of their art. This is one fine opera DVD! I'd say that it is strong competition to the likes of Giulio Cesare and Les Indes Galantes.

    I've rarely seen such a competent team put together such a *perfect* product. I can't think of a single element to negatively criticize here. This product doesn't have a single flaw, all aspects considered:

    The opera itself (vocals, instrumentals, pace, dramatic intensity, libretto) = 10/10
    The DVD (image, sound, subtitles, extras, camera work, insert) = 10/10
    The production (staging, props, costumes, adequacy of casting, concept) = 10/10
    The acting (convincing power, nuances, accuracy of emotions, looks) = 10/10
    The orchestra, chorus, and conductor (sensible reading, balance, tempo, musicality, sound) = 10/10
    The singing (timbre, pitch, technique, projection, volume, agility, articulation) = 10/10

    Overall: 10/10, of course. Outstanding! Sublime! Phenomenal!

    Highly, highly, highly recommended! One of the best operatic DVD's ever released. Buy it! Buy it! Buy it!
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  14. #28
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Handel: Tamerlano on DVD


    Alternative cover:



    This is from the Halle Handel Festival of 2001, filmed live in the small baroque Halle Theater, with period staging and minimalistic setting. Trevor Pinnack conducts the period orchestra The English Concert.

    Cast:

    Tamerlano: MONICA BACELLI
    Bajazet: THOMAS RANDLE
    Andronico: GRAHAM PUSHEE
    Irene: ANNA BONITATIBUS
    Asteria: ELISABETH NORBERG-SCHULZ
    Leone: ANTONIO ABETE

    Technically this is a very high quality DVD, one of the best I've seen, including some outstanding special features such as the ability to project the score on the screen, simultaneously with the image (a good feature for music students). The 16/9 hi-def image is sharp and clear with good lighting and good camera work. The sound comes in LPCM stereo and Dolby 5.1 and has perfect clarity, fullness, and balance. Subtitles and menus are in several languages. Bonus features include a making-of, and a documentary about the Halle festival with snipets of several Handel operas. This is how it's done, folks. It is a flawless product.

    The opera itself is outstanding, one of Handel's best. Oh well, every opera of Handel's I watch or listen to, I think it's one of his best. The man just didn't know how to compose anything less than excellent. What a composer! Regardless, this one is indeed sublime, particularly beautiful.

    Costumes are great. While the scenario for the entire opera is just a throne and some golden pannels, the costumes make up for the simplicity of the scenario. They are luxurious, colorful, and very appropriate (it is refreshing to see a Handel opera staged like the composer and librettist intended, with no Regie trickery). Staging is a bit static.

    Musically, this production is a bit more uneven. The sounds of the period orchestra are very beautiful but while for me it is hard to say because this is my first contact with this opera, I felt a certain lack of energy and languid tempi. Oh well, we can't get William Christie every time.

    And then, Monica Bacelli in the title role is not entirely convincing, she lacks ferocity and intensity, and while she sings correctly, it's nothing special.

    Elisabeth Norberg-Schulz on the other hand is fabulous. Her voice is very pleasant, her acting is good, and she looks attractive.

    Thomas Randle as Bajazet is equally impressive. These two account for the best singing in this production, and they do carry it on their shoulders and make it musically good enough.

    Graham Pushee as Andronico also disappoints.

    I mean, nobody really sinks the ship, it's just that Pushee and Bacelli are sort of pale, while Randle and Norberg-Schulz are much better, which makes for a detrimental contrast for the other two.

    Anna Bonitatibus as Irene is sort of in the middle of these two extremes. Her singing is very good without being as thrilling as Randle's and Norberg-Schulz's, and she acts a lot more energetically than Pushee and Bacelli.

    So here is the bottom line: we are faced with a high quality DVD product (technically speaking), containing a production with good staging and excellent costumes, and with musical aspects that even out in terms of minuses and pluses - while the orchestra sounds good, the conducting could have been better, and while of the five main characters 2 singers are outstanding, 2 are so-so and 1 is in the middle. So while the musical side earns a score of about 80 out of 100 (oscilating between 70 and 90), the non-musical aspects do add some 10 more points, getting to a total of 90 or A minus, therefore, one can say that this DVD is highly recommended.

    I wonder how it compares with the other Tamerlano in video, the one with Plácido Domingo which does have the advantage of being also offered as blu-ray.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  15. #29
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Handel: Admeto on DVD


    My dear friend Natalie loves this, so, I approached it with high expectations.

    2009(LC) - Nicholas McGegan - FestspielOrchester Göttingen

    Admeto - Tim Mead
    Alceste - Marie Arnet
    Ercole - William Berger
    Orlindo - Andrew Radley
    Trasimede - David Bates
    Antigona - Kirsten Blaise
    Meraspe - Wold Matthias Friedrich

    Mamu Dance Theater - Solo dance and choreography - Tadashi Endo

    Staged by Doris Dörrie

    Technical quality of this product: impecable. Perfect Hi-Def image (a blu-ray is also available) with vivid colors in 16:9 format; PCM stereo and DTS 5.1 sound with excellent balance; sutbtitles in Italian, English, German, and French, bonus feature with a 21-minute film on Baroque and Butoh dancing; insert with short essay and synopsis in English, German, and French.

    Staging: Very interesting. The director is Doris Dörries of Cherry Blossoms fame. She has staged this Händel opera with a Greek mythology subject matter in a Japanese Samurai culture setting. The images are stunning, although some parts have humor that I find to be misguided and distracting (such as the scenes with the sheep), and some satirical costumes fall flat in my opinion (such as Ercole's ridiculous Sumo wrestler padding).

    Conducting, orchestra - period instruments, competent conducting, very appropriate (no fireworks, though).

    Singing: homogeneously good, but again, no big thrills. The countertenor in the title role does a good job. Everybody sings beautifully.

    The opera itself: lovely, of course. It is Händel. Has Händel ever composed anything that is not sublime?

    And here is where this production doesn't earn my praise as much as it did for Natalie: doing it the Japanese way doesn't make it memorable per se.

    The problem with staging Händel operas is that they are *all* very good. One after the other, you have this gorgeous vocal music, this thrilling orchestration, these finely nuanced characters, this good dramatic/theatrical impact.

    But the problem with them being all so good is that then, each single one seems to be more of the same. When I try to rank the dozen operas by Händel that I know, I tend to be a bit confused; they are all so similarly enjoyable!

    This is why, in my opinion, there are so many rather extreme stagings of Händel's operas. I believe that stage directors feel that they have to rescue the piece and make it somehow unique, as opposed to the consistently good, always sublime, always reliably beautiful operas that Händel used to churn out, one after the other.

    Case in point, the spectacular, dynamic, thrilling, vivacious, lively staging of Giulio Cesare at Glyndebourne.

    Has Ms. Dörrie achieved the same effect here? I don't think so. Transposing the opera into Samurai culture is not enough, as strikingly beautiful as the images are. You need more intensity, more dramatic power, and this staging for me is more visually stunning than substantial.

    I give to this production a score of about 85, or B. Recommended. But not highly recommended (which I reserve for those that I score at 90 or more, or in other words, A- or more).
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); October 21st, 2014 at 04:32 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  16. #30
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Handel: Theodora on DVD


    1996 - William Christie - Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment - Glyndebourne Chorus

    Stellar cast of exquisite singers - Dawn Upshaw, Lorraine Hunt, David Daniels, Richard Croft, and Frode Olsen as principals, and chorus also very good.

    I'm a little puzzled - if I understood correctly, some of our members object to this production (probably mainly due to the updated staging).

    I find it absolutely spectacular. First of all, this an oratorio, not an opera. So, the staging shouldn't be considered subversive in any way, because it is there just adding visual elements, and they are strikingly beautiful. It's not like Sellars was tampering with Handel's stage instructions. I don't know if you all consider this to be a valid point, but for me it is. I think in a way that it is more acceptable to add some striking imagery to an oratorio than to frontally contradict the author's staging instructions for an opera. In this case there are no staging instructions, so, I feel that letting the imagination soar up to the sky is less upsetting; at least, to me. I'm fully aware of the internal contradiction in what I'm saying, since Handel never intended this to be staged in the first place, so some will say that it is even worse tampering... but strangely enough, the above is the way I feel.

    Second, I've rarely seen such a spectacular MUSICAL performance on DVD. You all know that I prefer opera (well, generally speaking, because it's an oratorio here, but done in a very operatic way) with the visual/theatrical aspects, but I'm fully aware that my choice prevents me from spending as much money on the top recordings with the best singing artists (I spend enough on DVD's and blu-rays, I can't afford both my collection of opera on visual media - by now, somewhat extensive - AND an equally extensive collection of CD box-sets).

    So, when I see a DVD that has exquisite singing, it's the best of two worlds, and I surely won't fault this production for what some will say it's objectionable staging.

    You get a formidable conductor, a spectacular historically informed period orchestra, top singers in all roles and what you get is lots, lots, lots of pleasure.

    I feel that I don't even need to write up a detailed review of this product. It would just be a boring gushing endless string of praise. I'll just say, A+, highly recommended!!!
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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