(2018/C Major)/Le Nozze Di
(2019/**Opus Arte/all Naxos Blu-rays)
B-/B/B-/B-/B-/B/B-/B Sound: B-/B-/B/B/B-/B/B-/B- Extras:
C/C/C+/C/C+/C/C+/C+ Main Programs: C+/B/B-/B-/B-/B-/B-/B-
a new group of classical music releases, including clever new takes
on previous classics, many of which we have covered before...
start with Gluck's Alceste
(2019) in a new version by stage director and choreographer Sidi
Larbi Cherkaoui with the dancers of Compagne Eastman, Antwerp at the
Bayerssches Staatsorchester that has some good moments, but
disappointed me like the previous version I reviewed a while ago at
sound and picture are of the same quality, though this was shot ion
4K, we'll have to see if a 4K disc is issued later. Though the older
one is five years ago, they have the same uneven results despite some
solid talent and it just did not stay with me.
is a new version of John Gay's The Beggar's Opera (2018) that
tales the work in amusing new directions and manages to even top the
previous older version with no less than the Who's Roger Daltrey we
reviewed at this link:
is my favorite entry this time around and I liked the dialogue,
acting, look and pace throughout its even a little better than the
older version. The greed theme is as timely as ever and they have
energy that brings it to life without overdoing it. Ian Burton and
Robert Carsen created this new version that features the Theatre Des
Bouffes Du Nord, music by William Christie performed by the musicians
of Ensembles Les Arts Florissants ands directed for the screen by
is a Royal Opera House double feature of The Cellist
(by Cathy Marston and Philip Feeney) and Dances At A
Gathering (by Jerome Robbins and Fryderyk Chopin, both from 2020)
with the Royal Ballet conducted by Andrea Molino and fitting on a
single disc. This runs 136 minutes combined and the extras are 9
have narratives, though the latter is a little more basic and debuted
in 1969. Because they are newer and of their nature, the combination
makes sense and is not just slapped-together like it might have been.
They are good, though neither struck me as stunning, but they are
both well done and worth your time if you are interested.
Cavalli's Ercole Amante (2019) is one of those operas that
struck us as unusual and interesting when we covered it in on Blu-ray
in this earlier Boulton-conducted version:
liked the sets and use of color in this new Raphael Pichon-conducted
version and the performances are fun, but it does not overtake or
equal the previous performance, though I thought some aspects and
moments came close. The singing is fine, acting fine and lighting
better than most on this list, from the Opera Comique, Chateau de
Versailles Spectacles and the Opera National de Bordeaux. It runs a
long 187 minutes, so make sure you have the time and are awake.
many tales of Faust and Faustian bargains can you have? They are so
many on film and video that you could do a thick book covering them
all and that includes a few we've caught over the years, but this is
the first time we have covered a version of Charles-Francois Gounod's
Faust (2019) from the Royal Opera House in this case. Though
we are all too familiar with the story, this one is not bad and has
a long 178 minutes, conducted by Dan Ettinger, stage directed by Dan
McVicar and featuring a solid cast headed by Michael Fabiano as the
title character, it is more hit than miss, but it is still a long
show and sometimes misses the mark. Otherwise, a fine production
worth a look (long as it would be) for those interested.
work we revisit now is the ballet classic Le Corsaire (2018
aka The Pirate) 200 years alter after legendary choreographer
Marius Petipa brought it to life.
version was one of the best-sounding shows Naxos ever sent us ands it
remains so to this day, so though picture performance is about the
same, the sound here cannot match that one. Still, this is one of
the best-sounding discs on this list and is consistent throughout.
Anna-Marie Holmes is behind the current dancing and the Teatro Alla
Scala with Italy's huge RAI TV network are behind the ambitious
production running a fine 108 minutes.
Fourniller conducts the music and the dancing is top rate. Still,
there are a few off moments in both versions for me, but they are
well done enough that fans should see both.
yet another revisiting, we have Mozart's Le Nozze Di Figaro
(2014 aka The Marriage Of Figaro) and it remains one of the
most popular, referenced and well-known operas in history. Here are
two fine versions we have covered in recent years on Blu-ray:
Opera House version
new version by conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt with the Theater an der
Wien das Opernhaus runs a long 190 minutes, but is as effective and a
little better looking than the Barenboim version (his work is so
often definitive) while the Royal Opera version still has the best
sound of the three and joins the best-sounding Naxos Blu-rays we have
covered to date. Thus, no one version has been able to cover all the
bases so fully that it is definitive, but if you have the time,
curiosity and love of the work, add this to the other versions and
compare them all.
Schuen is the title character and the other singers/actors are a fine
complement to him. The look is not bad and slightly paired-down
and/or basic, but is fine and is considered part of Mozart's Da Ponte
Cycle of operas (librettos by Lorenzo Da Ponte that also includes Don
Giovanni and Cosi fan tutte, reviewed a few times
elsewhere on this site) and I liked this one enough to see what they
did with the latter two works. Despite a few things that were not
quite what I wanted, a program worth seeing, certainly.
we have a new version of The Snow Queen (2019) based on the
classic Hans Christian Andersen work, but this is the first ballet we
have actually ever encountered. The Scottish Ballet with
Choreographer Christopher Hampson and Conductor Jean-Claude Picard as
the Summer Princess (Kayla-Marie Tarantolo) asks the title character
(Constance Devernay) to see the future, which reveals a man she will
be with. Instead of waiting, the Princess leaves for the town of
humans. The Queen is not happy about this.
there, the humans start crossing into their world and the a circus
comes to town, so you know chaos will follow.
is one of the more colorful and well-costumed entries here with fine
acting, dancing, performing and a good show at a tight 87 minutes. I
have yet to see any version of this tale in any version I found a
knockout, but this is as good as any one I have seen to date.
eight discs offer
1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers, so they will
all have a little bit of motion blur, including Alceste,
which is the only 4K shoot on the list. Beggar's
actually fare best with the least blu, though past 4K/1080i
comparisons have proved the 4K can still look great in its native
format. All have good color, editing and are pretty well shot
otherwise, though a new trend of minimal lighting in too many of
these productions is not a good thing and hurts their presentations
when the makers go overboard in that way.
discs also offer two sound mixes in DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and
PCM 2.0 Stereo lossless mixes that are professionally recorded, but
some 5.1 versions are no better than the 2.0 Stereo ones in a few
cases and some soundfields do not take total advantage of the
surrounds or soundstage. Ercole
tend to stand out sonically best in this case.
in all eight releases at least include multi-lingual booklets on
their respective shows, while Beggar's Opera,
Cellist/Gathering..., Faust and Snow Queen have
Cast Galleries, the latter three add behind the scene clips and
Figaro adds a longer outright documentary. All those extras
help make the works clearer and more entertaining.