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Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical Music > Opera > Concert > Drama > Politics > Romance > Adelaide di Borgogna (Rossini/Teatro/ArtHaus)/Ariane et Barbe-bleue (Dukas/Liceu Opera Barcelona/Opus Arte)/Il Corsaro + La Battaglia Di Legnano (Verdi/Teatro 100th Birthday Performances/C Major/Unite

Adelaide di Borgogna (Rossini/Teatro/ArtHaus)/Ariane et Barbe-bleue (Dukas/Liceu Opera Barcelona/Opus Arte)/Il Corsaro + La Battaglia Di Legnano (Verdi/Teatro 100th Birthday Performances/C Major/Unitel Classica)/La Finta Giardiniera (Mozart/ArtHaus/Naxos Blu-rays)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-/B/B-/B/B     Extras: C+/C/C+/C+/C     Main Programs: B-



Now for a set of new Operas on Blu-ray, but this time, I picked some more obscure works for a change of pace…



Rossini’s Adelaide di Borgogna features conductor Dmitri Jurowski, Stage Director Pier’ Alli and the Orchestra & Chorus of the Teatro Comunale di Bologna delivering a good 137 minutes version of the tale of royal love, accusation, betrayal and possible murder.  Adelaide (Jessica Pratt), may have murdered her husband and is in the hands of Berengario (Nicola Ullvieri) whose son Adelberto (Bogdan Mihai) still wants to marry her now that she is available!  And that is just for starters.


Though not a big success in its time, it still has the irony and unique character of oddity that all Rossini works have and the cast is fine all the way through that makes this as good as any release here.  It is still on the long side, in part because it has to be, but slightly uneven in the end, but still worth seeing if you have never encountered it before.



Paul Dukas’ Ariane et Barbe-bleue turns out to be his only opera, a tale of Ariane (Jeanne-Michéle Charbonnet), the sixth wife of the infamous “Barbe-bleue” or Bluebeard (José van Dam).  From the Liceu Opera Barcelona, this runs about two hours and has our possible heroine given seven keys, one of which she is forbidden to use in her new home, his castle.  With his history, you can imagine what follows will not be good.  It is almost done in a supernatural horror way, though the potential murders are all real, so it is also good, but it did not stay with me despite being a distinct, one-of-a-kind work.  Still, it is worth a look.



In a continuing series of works for the 100th Birthday of Verdi, Il Corsaro and La Battaglia Di Legnano have been issued as part of a series also from The Orchestra & Chorus of the Teatro Comunale di Bologna that is taping new versions of every work he ever wrote (see more from C Major, Unitel Classica and Naxos elsewhere on this site) and for the most part, they have all been at lest good if not knockouts.


Il Corsaro is conducted by Carlo Montanaro and stage directed by Lamberto Puggelli, happens to be (in keeping with the theme of this review) one of his least performed works, involving Christian Pirates fighting with The Ottoman Empire in the 16th Century and it is a nice change of pace after Hollywood has abused the subject for big-but-cheap profits in recent decades.  The characters and their interactions are more important than the battles (attention Jerry Bruckheimer) and anyone who liked pirates as a subject alone should see this one, which is not bad, even though I again felt this only stayed with me so much.


La Battaglia Di Legnano is conducted by Boris Brott and stage directed by Ruggero Cappuccio, is also about character and conflict involving Hohenstaufen Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and The Lombard League, but this is even more political than Il Corsaro and is sited as being a work that connected with the Italian liberation movement known as Risorgimento.  It is a little darker to boot, but overall is not that much better than its close counterpart.  It only stayed with mea little more as it seemed like its politics were more palpable, but I wonder if this one went far enough.  Still, very much worth a look.



Finally we have Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt and Stage Directed by Tobias Moretti from the Zurich Opera House dealing with how the different characters interact (sometimes to extremes) to have relationships, find happiness and love, all at sometimes extreme crossroads and some in danger of losing too much.  This seems like melodrama, but the booklet suggests maybe it is a work with the thoughts of the Enlightenment movement.  However, even if that is true or valid to any extent, the ideas of failure, a character who is willing to give up too much (i.e., a woman who loves too much) for love and the constant possibilities of destruction and self-destruction would also forecast the Existentialism that would follow such thinking after WWI; Mozart died in 1791 and if the philosophical ideas are correct, it goes to show you how some movements take a long time to form and others happen so quickly.


This one runs a long 187 minutes and is also worth seeing, but I wondered if it went far enough as well and recommend to any viewer trying to watch it all at once to really be in the mood and have the energy to take all three acts in.



The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image on all five Blu-rays are about even with good color, decent shooting, but detail issues and some minor flaws here and there.  None were standouts and none totally avoided motion blur, but none had more flaws than usual.


The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix on La Finta may not offer the epitome of 7.1 sound all the time, but it is as good as any release on the list and can compete with some classic large-frame film motion picture Musical classics sonically in recent Blu-ray release as it is well-recorded, articulate, has a well-rounded soundfield throughout and works well enough.  The rest of the releases offer DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, but only Ariane (which has a Dolby Digital In Select Theaters credit, but the soundmaster if far superior to that lossless format) and Battaglia can match the consistency of La Finta, leaving the Verdi Blu-rays a little more towards the front speakers and in the center channel to some extent than I would have liked.  All discs offer PCM 2.0 Stereo for backwards compatibility and some purists who are not fans of multi-channel sound.


Extras in all five releases include a multi-lingual, illustrated booklet on the respective concerts as well as trailers for other Classical Blu-ray releases, save La Finta which only has the booklet.  Adelaide and both Verdi Blus add Making Of featurettes, while Ariane a Cast Gallery.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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