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

          
   
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  1. #16
    Member Member OperaFanNH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark_Angel View Post
    Troyens is not one of my very favorite operas, but I do own the three video versions MET, Gardiner, and newest Pappano ROH and I like the Gardiner the best if I only keep one.
    THANKS for chiming in. I like the juxtaposition of it NOT being one of your favorites, yet still owning all the video versions. But, of course!

    I actually haven't ordered yet, so anything's possible. But, now I know, even if what I buy isn't THE singular best one, it's right up there...and who knows, it may only represent my FIRST on Blu-Ray anyway. THANK YOU!

  2. #17
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OperaFanNH View Post
    THANKS for chiming in. I like the juxtaposition of it NOT being one of your favorites, yet still owning all the video versions. But, of course!

    I actually haven't ordered yet, so anything's possible. But, now I know, even if what I buy isn't THE singular best one, it's right up there...and who knows, it may only represent my FIRST on Blu-Ray anyway. THANK YOU!
    Ken, I think the conclusion is that you'll have to suck it up and buy both. Come on! Buy! Buy! Buy! (that's Soave's old war chant).
    "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
    Member Member OperaFanNH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) View Post
    So, I don't know. Hard to say. These are all very fine productions of an outstanding opera, and they are to be commended because staging, playing, and singing Les Troyens is not easy.
    Sounds like you're hedging just a bit. Solution: Buy the Covent Garden one, and get reminded of why you liked it so much. Or prove yourself wrong.

    One of the reasons why I want to give Les Troyens every chance to become a favorite of mine is exactly what you said...the scale of the work, and the huge amount of man (and woman) hours required to get a production ready from so many involved. It's like The Ring in that way. It's just a massive opera, and with so much work involved, I figure if I don't think it's a great opera, I've probably missed something. We'll see...

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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OperaFanNH View Post
    It's like The Ring in that way.
    Yes, it's nicknamed "The Latin Ring" for a reason.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  7. #20
    Member Member OperaFanNH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) View Post
    Ken, I think the conclusion is that you'll have to suck it up and buy both. Come on! Buy! Buy! Buy! (that's Soave's old war chant).
    BTW, Decision made. Thanks Almaviva and Dark_Angel for suggestions, thoughts, etc. I ended up ordering the more recent Covent Garden one. (Yes, just one!) I was tempted with the earlier Gardiner one, but I'm not a big fan of period instruments...and that was probably the clincher to go with the later one. We'll see how it goes one day...

    Also, BTW, as it happens, I recently bought a nice set of Star Trek movies! And, just now finished watching Star Trek: First Contact. (Big second storm here in NH, so home bound, and movie time!) There's a scene where the First Officer (Riker) enters the Captain's (Jean-Luc Picard's) room, and guess what music he happened to be listening to? Yup, music from Les Troyens. Such a classy Captain, eh? (From which aria? I've no clue! But, I'll bet you would.)

  8. #21
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OperaFanNH View Post
    BTW, Decision made. Thanks Almaviva and Dark_Angel for suggestions, thoughts, etc. I ended up ordering the more recent Covent Garden one. (Yes, just one!) I was tempted with the earlier Gardiner one, but I'm not a big fan of period instruments...and that was probably the clincher to go with the later one. We'll see how it goes one day...

    Also, BTW, as it happens, I recently bought a nice set of Star Trek movies! And, just now finished watching Star Trek: First Contact. (Big second storm here in NH, so home bound, and movie time!) There's a scene where the First Officer (Riker) enters the Captain's (Jean-Luc Picard's) room, and guess what music he happened to be listening to? Yup, music from Les Troyens. Such a classy Captain, eh? (From which aria? I've no clue! But, I'll bet you would.)
    Yes, I do... Of course I do. It's not for nothing that this is my second favorite opera. It's Hylas' song that Picard is listening to (beginning of act V). And you can count me among the big fans of Star Trek as well, so, enjoy!

    [Do notice that there is a sub-genre called Klingon Opera - a topic of some of the shows]

    Just to make things harder for you, hehehe, I'd say that the period instruments in Gardiner's Les Troyens don't take anything from the opera, and like Anna Caterina Antonacci told me, they are still quite loud! That was a mighty good orchestral performance. I'd say it's rather perfect. But then, the Royal Opera House also has a phenomenal orchestra.

    Again, buddy, you need both!!!
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  9. #22
    Member Member OperaFanNH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva) View Post
    [Do notice that there is a sub-genre called Klingon Opera - a topic of some of the shows]
    I look forward to your Guidebook!

  10. #23
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OperaFanNH View Post
    I look forward to your Guidebook!
    As soon as I learn the language I'll publish the guidebook.



    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  12. #24
    Opera Lively Media Consultant Top Contributor Member Ann Lander (sospiro)'s Avatar
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    Interesting review of the McVicar Les Troyens in Gramophone.

    I'd be interested in the thoughts of those who've either seen it live or watched the DVD. I don't scrutinise operas too closely when I'm there; unless the singing is particularly poor I just tend to enjoy the performance as a whole. So I would never have noticed this " ... However, McVicar miscalculates in Act 2 scene 1, where the music indicates precisely where the boy should enter ..."
    "The world calls them its singers and poets and artists and storytellers; but they are just people who have never forgotten the way to fairyland."
    Lucy Maud Montgomery

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  14. #25
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sospiro View Post
    Interesting review of the McVicar Les Troyens in Gramophone.

    I'd be interested in the thoughts of those who've either seen it live or watched the DVD. I don't scrutinise operas too closely when I'm there; unless the singing is particularly poor I just tend to enjoy the performance as a whole. So I would never have noticed this " ... However, McVicar miscalculates in Act 2 scene 1, where the music indicates precisely where the boy should enter ..."
    Well, the reviewer praises a lot the performance (which is one that you and I and Nat, Sarah, and Marta loved) so I tend to agree with what he is saying. However, this bit "McVicar miscalculates in Act 2 scene 1, where the music indicates precisely where the boy should enter" sounds to me like nit-picking. I mean, come on, this is an opera that lasts for almost five hours and it is darn well staged... why should one pick on one small moment? You know, critics often feel that hey need to say at least something negative to be taken seriously, and I believe this is one such occasion. Then, the other aspect he mentions - "Antonio Pappano also misses one or two tricks" - I certainly did not notice it (and I do pay a lot of attention to orchestras). I thought the orchestra and conducting were fabulous, but then, we saw it live; one can't know for sure if something less successful was done the day they recorded it for DVD - there were no cameras when we were there so necessarily the DVD has a different performance - and no, I haven't bought it yet, believe it or not. I guess I'm afraid of ruining the magic - that was such a special evening - in great part because of the company of OL members - that I kind of am afraid that if I watch it again I won't feel the same impact, so I've been avoiding it. About Carthage being "less successful", this is a notion that puzzles me. Well, Carthage necessarily must have a much lighter atmosphere as compared to Troy, and that's exactly what McVicar tried to do. Troy is grim and depressing, Carthage is happy and colorful. What's not to like?

    So, let me put it this way... I agree with everything positive the critic said, and disagree with everything negative. While there is no perfect production, that one was darn close to being perfect - or at least, so I recall it, with the added subjective effect that Marta and I were meeting you, Nat, and Sarah.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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  16. #26
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Béatrice et Bénédict on blu-ray disc



    Béatrice et Bénédict, opéra-comique in two acts, sung in French
    Music by Hector Berlioz
    Libretto by Hector Berlioz, after William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing
    Premiered at the Theater der Stadt Baden-Baden on August 9, 1862.

    This is a Glyndebourne new production in July/August 2016, recorded live on August 9, 2016

    London Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Antonello Manacorda
    The Glyndebourne Chorus, chorus master Jeremy Bines
    Stage Director and Costume Designer, Opera Lively interviewee Laurent Pelly
    Set Designer, Barbara de Limburg
    Lighting Designer, Duane Schuler
    Dialogue Adaptation, Agathe Mélinand
    Film Director, Opera Lively interviewee François Roussillon

    Cast

    Léonato, Georges Bigot
    Messenger, Charles Meunier
    Héro, Sophie Karthäuser
    Béatrice, Stéphanie d'Oustrac
    Don Pedro, Frédéric Caton
    Bénédict, Opera Lively interviewee Paul Appleby
    Claudio, Philippe Sly
    Somarone, Lionel Lhote
    Ursule, Katarina Bradic
    First Servant, Adrien Mastrosimone
    Second Servant, Paul Sheridan
    Non-singing actors, Andrew Carter, Anthony Kurt Gabel, Andrew Hayler, Josh Sneesby

    Released on blu-ray disc by Opus Arte in 2017, all regions, 1080i HD image, DTS-HD surround Master Audio or LPCM 24-bit stereo, subtitled in English, French, Dutch, Japanese, and Korean. Running time 118 minutes (opera) and 11 minutes (extras, includes a cast gallery and a mini-documentary Béatrice et Bénédict - Rediscovering a Masterwork).

    The excellent insert includes a cast list, a 3-page interview with Laurent Pelly, a 4-page essay about the opera and the composer by David Cairns, a 1-page synopsis, all repeated in English, French, and German, a list of chorus members and orchestra instrumentalists, and six production pictures (color).

    ---------

    It is with trepidation and great expectations that I approach this product, which I bought for $27 from Presto Classical (on Amazon, $32.50, and there is also a DVD for $30). One, because it is Berlioz, one of my favorite composers; two, because it's Glyndebourne, one of my favorite opera companies; three, because of Laurent Pelly, one of my favorite stage directors. Add to it the fact that I really like Paul Appleby both as an artist and as a person, after having spent two long interviews and one lunch together with him, and I think I'm in for a treat.

    I only know Béatrice et Bénédict from a CD; this will be my first experience with attaching visuals to this opera that initially I didn't like very much when I first heard it, but later grew in my esteem.

    OK, so, I'm bracing for it, afraid of being disappointed in the setting of too high expectations. I'm about to pop it into the player. Fingers crossed.

    ----------

    OK, folks, that's a good start. I like this conductor - very elegant and precise gestures, and the orchestra is playing beautifully with great smooth transitions, rendering well Berlioz's extremely beautiful and suave overture. Sound capture is a bit faulty in the fact that it is picking up some ambience noise (I'm listening to it with my Bose headphones and they are good).

    The curtain opens up and the chorus sings from inside huge boxes, three of them, in a very funny effect. I knew it. Laurent, you are genial. Costumes are great, in various shades of black and gray, which as I understand, will be only colors used throughout the show (except for the bluish hue on the background - sleek, minimalist staging the way I like).

    The movements of the chorus members inside of the boxes are hilarious. When it is the turn of the male singers to sing, they elbow their way to the front row, and vice-versa when it's the females. Nicely done!

    The predominantly French cast members deliver the spoken lines with perfectly clear French diction.

    Great blocking, with the movements of the chorus members on stage, pushing out the big boxes in bursts that match the music. The initial three huge boxes become a city made of other smaller boxes.

    So far, great start with all elements flawlessly done.

    We get the first aria with Sophie Karthäuser and unfortunately I don't like her that much. Her pitch is well-controlled and her timbre is not bad in the lower register, but there are two problems: the higher notes sound strident, and she somehow sounds like she doesn't really let go; her voice feels a bit muffled. Oh well, it is often unwise to make this kind of criticism at the beginning; later maybe she will warm up.

    The second aria is by Stéphanie d'Oustrac, and no such problems exist. She is excellent. Paul follows, and he is his habitual great self. Paul commands excellent French, and has a predilection for roles in this language, like we discussed in one of his interviews, so it is a pleasure to listen to his perfect delivery.

    Therefore, we have two fabulous singers in the title roles. By now I'm quite reassured that I won't need to fear being disappointed.

    My main objection when I first reviewed this opera was the same that Laurent Pelly noticed - the lack of much action, with Berlioz having severely abridged Shakespeare's play. I said, it's Much Ado About Nothing without the ado.

    Also, I found Somarone to be an annoying character.

    With Laurent's advanced sense of theatricality, he took care of these shortcomings, making more action out of the libretto, and adding comic touches to Somarone, who interacts with the conductor and the orchestra in the pit, among other funny elements.

    I got now to the beautiful nocturne, the female duet "Nuit Paisible et Sereine," my favorite piece in this opera. Katarina Bradic who sings with Sophie (who does well in this delicate duet) is good. This nocturne resembles another favorite piece for me, "Nuit d'Ivresse" in Les Troyens. It's signature Berlioz!

    End of first act.

    The second act opens with nice blocking, again, and some very funny comic touches by Laurent Pelly, making of the drinking song by Somarone, something very compelling. This is a lesson in stage directing and blocking! Wow! My friends, you have to see this. It is brilliant!

    Next, Stéphanie does a phenomenal job with her more dramatic aria. What a force of nature she is! Her two female counterparts join her for the exquisite trio Berlioz added after the premiere.

    Stéphanie acts very well in the last scenes when she finally capitulates in her love for Bénédict. Paul looks a bit stiff but sings gorgeously.

    It is abundantly clear that this is a superior product.

    Glyndebourne did it again. They put together a well-conducted, well-played, well-staged and well-sung opera that managed to exploit all the strengths of the piece, hiding some of its shortcomings. A pleasure! And no, I was not disappointed. My high expectations were met.

    A++, highly recommended.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); September 3rd, 2017 at 09:04 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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