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Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical Music > Instrumental > Concert > Opera > Gluck: Iphigenie en Aulide/Iphigenie en Tauride: Marc Minkowski (Deneder Landse Opera/Opus Arte)/Haydn: Orlando Paladino/Jacobs (Staatsoper/Euro Arts)/Richard Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier – Andrew Litto

Gluck: Iphigenie en Aulide/Iphigenie en Tauride: Marc Minkowski (Deneder Landse Opera/Opus Arte)/Haydn: Orlando Paladino/Jacobs (Staatsoper/Euro Arts)/Richard Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier – Andrew Litton (Opera Australia/Naxos Blu-rays)


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



Here are some less-performed operas now on Blu-ray…



Christoph Willibald Gluck created compatible, dual operas on The Trojan War and both Iphigénie en Aulide and Iphigénie en Tauride are on one Blu-ray and from Opus Arte and The Deneder Landse Opera conducted by Marc Minkowski based on Euripides writings on Agamemnon, Iphigenia and tragedy with plenty of twists and both directed by Pierre Audi.


On their own, they are pretty good and the makers have taken liberties to modernize the wardrobe, which may get in the way of authenticity, but seems to be trying to avoid the pretension and phoniness the awful Wolfgang Petersen’s Troy motion picture offered from bad digital effects to its slow script to Brad Pitt’s endless dying scene.


I was still not highly impressed, but these two make more sense together and gives a much more complete idea of what the take being pulled off here.  It is not always successful, but it is ambitious enough and if you are going to take on the subject matter, you might as well go all the way.  It runs 229 minutes, so be awake for it all, but it still seems much shorter than that Troy film.


Extras include a booklet on the program in several languages, two Behind The Scenes documentary featurettes and Cast Galleries.



Joseph Haydn’s Orlando Paladino adapts Ludovico Ariost’s tale of royalty, sorcery and love as a Princess (a remarkable Marlis Petersen) falls for Sorcerer Medoro (Magnus Staveland), but the title character (Tom Randle) gets into the middle of it in a comic tale that deals with hero mythology and here, plays with the ideas of artifice and naturalism.


Also done with its share of contemporary costuming, this runs 168 minutes, but despite having many fine highlights, I did not think this one totally worked all the time leaving us with peaks and valleys throughout that stop it from being a boring failure, yet not always adding up as I had wished for.  Perhaps having two directors in Nigel Lowery and Amir Hosseinpour has something to do with it, but it just does not cohere as I would have liked despite the fine acting and singing talent of the cast.  This is one fans of opera will need to see fort themselves to really tell, but expect some unevenness throughout.  René Jacobs conducts the music.


Extras include a booklet on the program in several languages and trailers.



Andrew Litton conducts the music for this Opera Australia version of Richard Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier which has an exceptional vocal opera cast, top rate period designs from the costumes to the sets and at a very impressive and never problematic 200 minutes is the best release on this list and of the genre we have seen in months.


Though it seems the tale of a Count and a hidden, secret love is being plays in a coy way by casting Catherine Carby as The Count to play on gender politics, the work is never altered to make it a lesbian plot or a political polemic nor does the work even admit that the Count is played by a woman.  Without the cliché of saying they play it “straight”, the production is so concerned with doing this opera as an A+ production in a totally classic mode that it becomes irrelevant and they may even are expecting us to accept Miss Carby as a male. All in all, it is incidental and does not matter.


I could add it also gives the personal, private space in the secret relationship new poignancy, but I want to add that the cast has some of the best individual vocal performances I have encountered on opera in all home video formats ever.  Cheryl Baker, Manfred Hemm, Warwick Fyfe, Emma Pearson, Andrew Brunsdon, Jacqueline Dark and Henry Choo make up the amazing main cast, though there is an exceptionally large cast here.  You’ll want to go out of your way for this one.


Extras include a booklet on the program in several languages and Cast Galleries.




The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on all three productions are good, though we also get some motion blur, but color is not bad and especially on Rosenkavalier which easily has the best color of the three and the one with the few demo shots.  Some video black can be problematic at times and we get some slight staircasing, but playback is fine for interlaced tapings.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes on all three Blu-rays are fine, well recorded and have good soundfields, though being they are on stage, you get recordings that also convey the sense of space and distance between the singer and audience, plus the size and acoustics of the various locales, so nothing is too forward and sometimes, sound will seem more distant than expected but that is the way it is.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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