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Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical Music > Concert > Opera > Drama > Ballet > Comedy > Literature > Fantasy > Giordano: Fedora/Dessi (2015/Dynamic)/Mozart's Lover's Garden/Teatro Alla Scala (2016/C Major)/Pas De Deux/Royal Ballet (2016/Opus Arte)/Pique Dame/Queen Of Spades/Dutch National Opera (2017/Unitel)/R

Giordano: Fedora/Dessi (2015/Dynamic)/Mozart's Lover's Garden/Teatro Alla Scala (2016/C Major)/Pas De Deux/Royal Ballet (2016/Opus Arte)/Pique Dame/Queen Of Spades/Dutch National Opera (2017/Unitel)/Renee Fleming In Concert set: Thielemann/Strauss (2011, 2012/Opus Arte/all Naxos Blu-rays)

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

Here are six more classical music arts programs you might be interested in, all impressive in their own ways...

We start with Umberto Giordano's Fedora (2015) with Daniela Dessi in the title role of a woman and Princess due to be married, only to be betrayed in this very melodramatic 108 minutes Italian-language with Rosetta Cucchi directing and Valerio Galli conducting the music that even Gustav Mahler got involved with early on. Like many of these opera releases, I do not recognize the singer's by name or on site, so it is always a plus to see new singing talent that also has to act convincingly, plus the Italians do Opera like no others, so it is worth your time if the story appeals to you. A rich release that is to the point, it is an easier opera for newcomers to handle.

Mozart's Lover's Garden is being performed by the great Teatro Alla Scala (2016) in a colorful 90 minutes that works better for me than The Magic Flute as far as his fantasy genre works are concerned. Costumes and sets by Erika Carretta are imaginative, dancing superior, choreography by Massimilanio Volpini rightly tight and a program that just breezes along with energy and pace that makes total sense and shows how fun ballet can be. Co-produced with Italy's massive RAI TV Network, the musicians are as on top of things as everyone else, so it that makes it one of the best such Mozart releases on home video of any kind to date. Very nice, though I wish it were longer.

The ballet compilation Pas De Deux with The Royal Ballet (2016/Opus Arte) is a fine sampling of so many releases over the years, many of which we have covered on this site (keep that in mind if you see it) and though visual and even aural quality can vary slightly between recordings, it is a great crash course in some of the best and even most remarkable dancing in the art form you'll see on any single disc, clocking in at 133 minutes. If you are looking for that kind of disc and want to see some of the best dancing talent around today, this is the disc for you.

It has been a long time since we first looked at a great performance of Tchaikovsky's Pique Dame aka Queen Of Spades, but another version has finally turned up with the Dutch National Opera (2017) and with the great Mariss Jansons at the helm back in Amsterdam, it is as impressive and effective as the version we enjoyed years ago at this link...


Maybe the material about a woman whose future is held in the secrets in a few cards is just too hard to resist and gets performers excited and concentrating on the material, but I found this new version to be the equal of the older one that stuck with me more than just about any Naxos or Classical title we ever covered over the years and despite running 181 minutes, is worth your time if you can handle it. Impressive indeed!

Finally, a little double Blu-ray box set with one of the most successful female vocalists in Opera today and likely in recorded opera history, but one who in all these years, have only seen as a guest in other concert Blu-ray releases. Now we have the new Renee Fleming In Concert set to help make up for this with two solid shows with works including Richard Strauss and the equally great Christian Thielemann: one has three pieces from the composer in Lieder, Arabella and Eine Alpensinfonie (2011) and the other with Five Songs by Hugo Wolf, Strauss' Befreit and Bruckner's Symphony No. 7 (2012), the latter of which we covered a while ago at this link...


Needless to say the fusion of their talent, timing, chemistry and grasp of the materials delivers, especially if you like them and they are not sloppy about the work, they don't chop it up and it makes for a fine set more than worth your time. The energy is there too.

The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital high definition images across all six discs can have fine color and some good shots, but each has its share of motion blur and detail issues at times, now more noticed on 4K Ultra HDTVs, et al. Hardly any of these programs have arrived on 4K UHD Blu-ray discs, but we hope that changes soon. Otherwise, they are as watchable as most of the releases we've covered from these same labels over the years.

The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix on all releases, even including the DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.0 lossless mixes on Pique and Garden, are all well mixed and recorded throughout, sounding fine and a bit better than their also-included PCM 2.0 Stereo counterparts that are not as good and can sound a bit weak. They all fair better sonically than visually.

Unusually, save a few trailers on some of the releases, none of the actual discs have any extras whatsoever, but all come with multi-language booklets on their respective programs including technical detail, history and other informative text.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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