Arte DVD**)/La Finta
Duets + Placido
Domingo At The Arena Di Verona
(both 2020/C Major)/Rosas/The
Six Brandenburg Concertos
(2021/Neumeier/**Shakespeare aka Midsummer
(2020/Lidberg/all Naxos Blu-rays save**)
B-/B-/C+/B/B/B-/B/B/B-/B- Sound: B-/B-/C+/B/B/B/B/B/B/B
Extras: B-/C/C+/C/C/C/C/C/C+/C Main Programs:
latest batch of classical releases includes a new drama and some
start with Jacques Offenbach's Barbe-Bleue
(2019) darkly comic take on the Bluebeard murders and not to be
confused with the also interesting Paul Dukas Ariane
that covers the same material as we reviewed it at this link:
liked that one for the most part, but thought the supernatural angle
rang false a little and threw it a bit off, so I liked this take
better and turned out to be my favorite of this new batch of
releases. Conductor Michele Spotti and directing meld very well
together, the material is smart and thoughtful, as well as a bit sly
and it wastes little of its 123 minutes of length. The singer/actors
are fine here too, including Yann Beuron as the famous killer,
Heloise Mas, Christophe Gay, Christophe Mortange, Jennifer Courcier,
Thibalt De Damas, Carl Ghazarossian and Aline Martin. No Ariane
shows up, though. Definitely catch it if it sounds like your kind of
for no less than the sixth version of Richard Strauss' Elektra
(2020) that we have covered. Here is the previous one, with link to
the other four:
one is conducted by Franz Welser-Most, staged decently by Krzysztof
Warlikowski with the Weiner Philharmoniker and has decent sets.
However, watching it was not as engrossing as the Mucher
versions we covered before, but it is such a popular and well known
work, I wonder if a certain kind of fatigue sets in when it gets
produced these days since it is one of the most produced works of its
kind in the world. You can judge for yourself, but it just misses
the mark in too many small places.
(2019) is one of his less-performed works and this recent one Live
From Stratford-Upon-Avon from director Eleanor Rhode allow women to
play some of the biggest parts, but still as men (the title
character, whose brother (also here) is Richard The Lionheart (soon
to be dead) and we have seen this kind of thing before. Running a
very long 153 minutes, it is not bad, but that is a very long sit.
the actors are good, sets and costumes not bad and if you are not
annoyed by the genre switch, you might like it. However, despite the
energy it has, it is not enough that I could ever sit through this
one again. Still, the curious might want to try it out.
(2014) stage directed by Frederic Wake-Walter, conducted by Diego
Fasolis, and camera directed by Daniela Vismara with the Teatro alla
Scala is a love story opera with the gal (Julie Martin Du Theil)
pretending to be someone else (the title of the work) to get the
interest of a man (Kresimir Spicer as Don Anchise) in a familiar
concept. Made in association with Italy's huge RAI TV network, this
runs a very, very, very long 179 minutes, the second longest of the
is necessary to cover the whole work and the makers all do it well,
but that is as long as anything we are reviewing here today and you'd
better sit down and get ready if you take on this one. Add the fine
costumes and sets and the sit will likely be worth it, but I can see
why it is the first time we've seen this one.
Major has issued Love
Domingo At The Arena Di Verona
(both 2020) as separate discs, running 101 and 84 minutes
respectively, it is odd that they were not all on one Blu-ray disc as
they could easily fit together with no loss in quality. Sonta
Yoncheva appears with Domingo on both and both have the same video
director. Domingo even conducts both with the Orchestra of the Arena
di Verona, so even if they happened on different nights, a single
disc would have been better. I could see this being separate if they
were both 4K releases, maybe, but here we are.
shows are fine despite being so relatively short and the singing is
solid as expected (nice audience too) with Vitorrio Grigold adding to
program and we are treated to works by Puccini, Bizet, Verdi ands
more, while the second disc offers Giordano, Verdi and more. They
are not bad apart, but work better together. You can either get them
now or wait to see what they do with potential 4K release versions.
I usually think of Bach's The
Six Brandenburg Concertos
(2019) as an instrumental work, which we have rarely covered oddly,
this Rosas dance troop release is a ballet and dance version of the
classic choreographed interestingly by Anne Theresa De Keersmaeker,
conducted by Amandine Beyer at the Opera National De Paris runs a
mere 109 minutes, but is a solid, creative alternative way to take in
dancing is decent, consistent and has a style that works well enough,
though some might find the barebones set a little too deconstructive
for their tastes. However, I like the idea of the makers attempting
something different and additional, then actually succeeding more
than you might think. Its not stunning, but it is accomplished and
you might like it.
(2017) is conducted here by Mikhail Tatarnikov, directed by Dimitri
Tcherniakov with the Choeurs De L'Opera National De Paris and
Orchestre De L'Opera National De Paris. This opera is 194 minutes!
characters are named after parts of nature, so they are the elements
on some level and the work is almost surreal in how the interactions
go on in a total of four acts. Though it can be visually dark, it is
trying to be beautiful and can be, it qualifies for the fantasy
genre. However, most young children might find this a very trying
work. It is the first time I have seen it and we've covered it, so
it is worth a look for those interested. The actors have the energy
to bring it to life, the costumes and good and designs consistent
enough that they do keep the atmosphere going throughout. That's
impressive unto itself.
Midsummer Night's Dream)
is a work I am still surprised we did not cover in various versions
more often over the years, despite its huge popularity as a work.
You can read more about the few we did see, starting with this
version we liked at this link:
Jon Neumeier ballet version wants to go the more erotic route and has
some success doing this, not sexually graphic in a stupid, tired,
obvious way, yet dealing honestly with the material. It is a welcome
alternate take on the classic and the Hamburg Ballet really delivers
some impressive dance work here.
runs about two hours and covers the material as thoughtfully as
possible and especially since so much Shakespeare is always being
made all the time, is definitely worth a look. Cheers to the cast
Pontus Lidberg's Written
(2020) wants to delve into the world of dance and depths of
creativity, but the film only lasts 78 minutes (!?!) with mixed
acting and often bad, tired, predictable dialogue. Aurelie DuPont,
Alexander Jones, Stina Ekblad and (yes) Leslie Caron are joined by
the director as the acting cast and we get some good dancing, but the
film does not succeed anywhere close to what it sets out to do. Too
ambitious for its own good? More like not focused and saying things
only it understands.
look of this is a little more pale than I would have liked and it
just drones on. Yes, there is talent here, but it does not add up to
what it could have.
for playback performance. Save
all the Blu-rays are presented here in 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High
Definition image, with Elektra,
and the two Domingo
titles originating as 4K productions, though they are not available
in that format just yet. We get motion blur where we did not expect,
but it is usually not an issue. Still, the best-looking titles are
As we've experienced and learned before in these situations, the
reduction from 4K to 1080i (versus relatively clearer 1080p) causes
more issues than expected or desired, though we are happy to report
that 4K versions of titles released both ways have more than proven
to be some of the best classical titles ever issued on the market.
Color is fine in all eight cases.
1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Water
is (we won't say watery) a little weak with a little more blur than
we would like, stylizing not included. Color is a little weak at
times too, undermining a film that already has issues.
nine Blu-ray releases offer both DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 and PCM
2.0 Stereo lossless mixes, with the DTS the best in all cases, save
whose mixes are not as consistent as they ought to be.
anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image and lossy Dolby Digital 5.1
and 2.0 Stereo mixes on King
are as good as they can get for the older format. I preferred the
5.1 mix, but wished this was lossless.
in every release here include multi-lingual booklets on each release,
a few add trailers for other releases, Barbe-Bleue
a Cast Gallery and Tales
adds its own Cast Gallery, two interviews with Director Rhode and the
cast respectively and Dance
featurette, and Traum
adds the featurette The Artist's Privilege interviewing Neumeier
about the show.