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Category:    Home > Reviews > Classical Music > Opera > Drama > Comedy > Politics > Documentary > Le Nozze In Villa (2020/Donizetti/Montanari/Dynamic/all Naxos Blu-rays)/White Swan (2021/Joy Womack/Film Movement DVD)

Ciboulette (2013/Hahn/Equibey)/Dido and Aeneas (2006/Purcell/Christie)/Fidelio (2020/Opus Arte/Beethoven/Royal Opera House/Pappano)/L'Enigma Di Lea (2019/Pons)/L'Equivoco Stravagante (2018/Rossini/Perez-Sierra)/Le Nozze In Villa (2020/Donizetti/Montanari/Dynamic/all Naxos Blu-rays)/White Swan (2021/Joy Womack/Film Movement DVD)

Picture: B- (Ciboulette: B Swan: C+) Sound: B/B-/B/B-/B-/B/C Extras: C/C/C+/C+/C/C/C Main Programs: B-/C+/B-/C+/B-/B-/B-

Now for more Classical releases...

Reynaldo Hahn's Ciboulette (2013) has the title market gardener (Julie Fuchs) living her usual life when she visits a fortune teller and goes wild after believing her reading to do all kinds of things with her life with the 'promise' of fortune and better future. This does not go as told or read, until maybe, she falls for someone who might lead to a greater life than anything she could have imagined.

The Opera Comique and Opera Theatre de Saint-Etienne is full and lavish, but runs 145 minutes, so this might not work for everyone and be as effective or consistent as one might want, but I thought it worked more often than not and is worth a good look for those interested. The singing is also solid.

Next we look at the second production of Henry Purcell's Dido and Aeneas (2006) only runs 66 minutes and is a decent version of the romance melodrama, but I may have liked the production from this earlier release more:


Still, Deborah Warner's stage direction is not bad and unlike the other one, this is available as a stand-alone production, though the other big difference is this is an opera and that was a ballet with Malena Ernman, Christopher Maltman, Judith Van Wanroij, Hilary Summers and Lina Markeby. The Opera Comique and Dutch National Opera co-produced.

Beethoven's Fidelio (2020) is a classic work of identity politics, actual politics and much more and we previously covered it performed from an alternate 1806 version at this link:


Based on the more commonly known version from The Royal Opera House, this version runs 133 minutes, is directed by Oliver Mears, screen directed by Rhodri Huw, conducted by Anthony Pappano and stage directed by Tobias Kratzer. This is worthy of the other version we covered, though I think the sound here is better, yet I wonder if either is definitive and not just because there are two different versions they are based on. As I felt after seeing the older version, it still seems something is not being said or completed, but I cannot figure out what.

Nevertheless, this is one of the best releases on this decent list of them and the fine singing and acting is led by Lise Davidsen, Robin Tritschler, Amanda Forsythe, Georg Zeppenfeld and Simon Neal. Those interested should get and watch both versions back to back.

Benet Casablancas' L'Enigma Di Lea (2019) has the title character (Allison Cook) traveling through time (et al) in this opera about love, existence and secrets. All this traveling eventually gets her trapped in various places, but the production gets very post-modern with all kinds of electronic objects (some obsolete) and other items that try to update it or the like, but overdo those aspects a little too much.

Otherwise, the Liceu Opera Barcelona produced this show, lasting two hours and conducted by Josep Pons, all trying to make this meld and work. Some parts are not bad, but it did not quite add up when all was said and done. Now you can see for yourself.

Rossini's L'Equivoco Stravagante (2018) is one of his works we never got to cover, a tale of 'a curious misunderstanding' was the legends first opera, penned when he was only 19! This comedy about a man trying to skip military service by pretending temporarily to be a female was censored at the time and may still be a subversive to many now. Running 141 minutes, it again has more good moments than flat ones, but has some off moments here and there too.

Premiered originally in Bulgaria and glad this is not a lost or destroyed work, this version was performed over two nights at the Konigliches Kurtheater in Bad Wildbad, Germany conducted by Jose Miguel Perez-Sierra and stage directed by Philippe Ohl. They give it their all to their credit and it is well done enough. Strange we have not heard more about this one sooner, but here it is.

Donizetti's Le Nozze In Villa (2020) is another comedy/drama opera about romance, this time offering Sabina (Gaia Petrone) mutually in love with Claudio (Giorgio Misseri) but NOT by her family, though they want to stick her with boring schoolmaster Trifoglio (Fabio Capitanucci) who she wants to avoid at all costs... especially permanently.

Some of this is obvious, but still well done and sung, nicely produced by the Fondazione Teatro Donizelli shot during a 2020 Donizelli Festival with Conductor Stefano Montanari. This runs about two hours and has some nice production design and costumes, but again, there are a few moments that were more than expected. Otherwise, nicely done.

And finally, we have Dina Burlis and Sergey Gavrilov's Joy Womack: The White Swan (2021) ballet biographical documentary about the title dancer in yet another film that is part of a cycle of occasional backstage ballet glimpses that does not even include featurettes on actual full-length ballet releases like the hundreds we have covered over the years.

Running 91 minutes, Womack was 15 when she left her United States home to join the Bolshoi Ballet and there are some good moments here, but it still cannot avoid what are becoming cliches about such tales and I did not think this was always as interesting or as rich as it could have been. Maybe there was nothing much to add from what we see, but it is worth a look for hardcore ballet fans.

Now for playback performance. The 1080i 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers on all six Blu-rays have good color, but some are not as clear as others, but Ciboulette is easily the best visual performer here with the most stable, and clear image throughout. All six discs also offer PCM 2.0 Stereo sound, but only four of the six add DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes, leaving Lea and Stravagante without them.

The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on Swan is as good as it is going to get for the old DVD format with some softness and motion blur, but the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound is on the weak side, so be careful of high volume playback or volume switching. Ciboulette, Fidelio and Villa are the best sounding shows and best sonic performers of the bunch.

Extras include the usual, somewhat illustrated, multi-lingual booklets on all six classical releases by Naxos, with Fidelio adding a Cast Gallery and Making Of featurette, plus Lea adding Bonus Interviews. Swan adds both a Making Of featurette and Bonus Interviews.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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