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Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical Music > Opera > Comedy > Drama > Myth > Politics > Biography > Violin > Stage > Historical > Mozart Royal Opera OpusArte set w/Marriage Of Figaro, Don Giovanni & Die Zaberflote/Magic Flute (Blu-ray Box)/Bruno Monsaingeon Edition Volume Two: Yehudi Menuhin (1977 - 2014/Warner Classics/EuroArts

Mozart Royal Opera OpusArte set w/Marriage Of Figaro, Don Giovanni & Die Zaberflote/Magic Flute (Blu-ray Box)/Bruno Monsaingeon Edition Volume Two: Yehudi Menuhin (1977 - 2014/Warner Classics/EuroArts 4-Blu-ray Box)/Wagner: Parsifal - Royal Opera/Pappano (2013/Warner Classics/Opus Arte DVD Set/all Naxos distribution)

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

Here are some new classical releases including the return of two of the best we ever covered...

The Mozart Royal Opera OpusArte set offers three great performances from the label's archive that all deserve a second look. We covered two of them a while ago and you can read more about them at these links:

Don Giovanni


Die Zaberflote/Magic Flute


New to us is The Marriage Of Figaro, which amazingly is the first time we ever covered the Operatic classic in any form. Antonio Pappano conducts this version well with solid stage direction by David McVicar, pairing Erwin Schrott in the title role and Miah Persson as Susanna. Split on two Blu-rays and running three hours, this is very entertaining, very well done and a great way to see the classic. The production design is fine and cast is great as the energy gives this life throughout the way you'd expect to see a great classic brought to life. It's a shame we missed this one on first release, but it is great and with the two other amazing, enduring shows, this is one of the best compilation Blu-ray sets of the year!

Bruno Monsaingeon Edition Volume Two: Yehudi Menuhin (1977 - 2014) is an impressive, 4-Blu-ray box set of reference quality featuring the legendary, brilliant violinist Menuhin from his earliest days to his late performances with an amazing grasp of all the classics played in ways that stunned the world and helped set high new standards for how they are all played. Even when we do not get outright performances of the genius in action, we get clips throughout interviews with him and once you start watching this set, it is hard to stop because it offers all kinds of surprises throughout. This includes trips to the Soviet Union more than once that were always events that transcended just having a show and brought all into the heart of cultural exchange and The Cold War.

Menuhin is very well spoken when he talks of his work and times, showing the mind, heart and soul behind the man. I like the way this was set up and hope we get to see more such volumes on more artists we should never forget.

Finally we have Wagner: Parsifal - Royal Opera/Pappano (2013), only the second-ever time we have covered the last opera by the ever-controversial composer. You can read more about the first at this link:


Again we have Antonio Pappano conducting and it is a solid show (also issued on Blu-ray apparently) and though I liked it, I liked the other Kent Nagano conducted/Nikolaus Lehnhoff stage directed version just a little better, but one should see both and compare to get the most out of the original intended text. Simon O'Neill plays the title character with edge and Stephen Landridge is the stage director. Good, but see it on Blu-ray over the DVD set here if you can.

All Blu-ray presentations are in 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers, but of two kinds. The Mozart set is real 1080i with the best performance on the list (even when you get a little motion blur, color is good, while the Menuhin offers upscaled to 1080i 1.33 X 1 presentations throughout. With a range of material that is usually analog videotape that can show the age of the materials used, it is still better to have it on Blu-ray, a more reliable format than DVD for presentation and playback. The only shame is that the filmed footage (including some good-looking black and white 16mm film) could be real 1080p if transferred from the original film stocks. Too bad.

That leaves the anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on the Parsifal DVD set looking about as good as the upscaled material, but I wish I had seen the Blu-ray version because this looks like there is much more to be gained from the lush stage production. Otherwise, this is as good as a DVD version is going to get.

All the Mozart Blu-rays have PCM 5.1 mixes, save PCM 5.0 on Figaro (instrumental music drowns out the singers a few times) and they sound great, but Magic Flute just surpasses the rest with an amazing soundfield and superior recording throughout. PCM 2.0 Stereo with some mono is offered on the first three Menuhin Blu-rays, leaving lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo and Mono the sound on the final Blu-ray disc. This sounds as good as it likely ever will and the music has some fine moments, even without multi-channel playback, as much as I wished we got some of that here. The Parsifal DVD set has a standard DTS 5.1 mix as its best option (listed on the back of the DVD case, but oddly NOT on the paperboard slipcover), but lesser lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo has been included for systems that cannot handle even simple DTS. Bets this sounds better in a lossless format, but it is well recorded and the DTS delivers the recording the best here.

Extras include multi-language illustrated booklets in all releases, with Figaro having a Cast Gallery and featurette on how stage cues are built into the music score, the other two titles in the set have Illustrated Synopsis and two more Behind The Scenes featurettes each, Menuhin adds a trailer for the first volume in what is shaping up to be a great series and Parsifal adds an interviews featurette dubbed Introductions.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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