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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concert > Opera > Classical Music > Ballet > Giuseppe Verdiís La Traviata (Blu-ray) + George Frideric Handelís Orlando (DVD)/Arthaus Musik

Giuseppe Verdiís La Traviata (Blu-ray) + George Frideric Handelís Orlando (DVD)/Arthaus Musik


Picture/Sound/Extras/Main Programs:


La Traviata B+/A/C/A-


Orlando B/B/B/B



We are incredibly thrilled to be reviewing two titles from Arthaus Musik, the first being Giuseppe Verdiís exceptional La Traviata, which has been issued on the Blu-ray format.This particular performance was captures live from the Teatro alla Scala di Milano in 2007 and is a melodrama broken into three acts and set to Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave.The titles translation simply means ĎThe Woman Who Strayedí and has become one of the most commonly performed operaís in North America, only behind Madame Butterfly and La BohŤme, reviewed elsewhere on this site:





The casting here is fantastic with Angela Gheorghiu as Violetta Valery and Ramon Vargas as Alfredo Germont plus a great ensemble cast as well.Conducted under the Lorin Maazel and the orchestra, chorus, and ballet of the Teatro alla Scala the production is finely directed by Liliana Cavani, who is mostly known as a filmmaker (Ripleyís Game, The Night Porter).


This particular Blu-ray is an all-region 25GB disc that is presented in a 1080i High Definition 1.78 X 1 transfer that looks stunning to say the least.Although it would have been great to have this as a 1080p release, the transfer still looks wonderful.The set design by Dante Ferretti comes across stunning, realistic, and well-rendered in this format as color fidelity, color depth, and tones look appropriately dramatic and exaggerated, yet natural as well.Darker sections of the stage look deep with true blacks, while the more lit sections do not seem blown out with too much contrast.Indeed we get a very remarkable transfer that shows just how great a production like this can be at home.


Even more impressive with this particular release is the inclusion of a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix, which is partnered with a PCM 2.0 stereo mix as well.Both are lossless mixes and this is precisely the way that more Blu-rays need to be released.The DTS-HD 7.1 is nothing short of amazing delivering a full-range of fidelity with both the orchestra engulfing the mix at times as well as the vocal ranges shining through without any difficulty either.Often times a multi-channel mix can sound thin as the mix tries to spread the sound too much, but not the case here.The front soundstage permeates the room very similarly to hearing it live, while the ambiance is transported through the surround channels with great clarity and naturalness that we are seldom treated to, even on Blu-ray!I am highly impressed with the dynamics of this mix, but even the PCM 2.0 audio option is a viable one as well, even without the surround activity.To some degree the PCM mix is a bit more crystal clear with the fidelity, but does not have the thickness and punch that the DTS-HD mix does.It will ultimately comes down to preference here, but itís great having two options that are both great choices.


Handelís Orlando is brought to us via 2-disc DVD, which is quite good, but pales in comparison after coming off the Blu-ray tails of La Traviata.Despite being on the DVD format though, itís still worthy of accolades just the same, although we look forward to seeing this release on Blu-ray in the future.


Orlando is from a 2007 live performance at the Zurich Opera House with the Zurich Scintilla orchestra conducted by William Christie.Orlando is a three act Libretto by an anonymous opet taken from the text by Carlo Sigismondo Capece and the epic poem ďOrlando FuriosoĒ written by Ludovico Ariosto in 1532.It features 4 main characters and 1 title character played here by Marijana Mijanovic with stage direction from Jans-Daniel Herzog.This feature has been directed for TV/video by Felix Breisach for this 2-disc release.Orlando was first performed in London 1733, but was not given a modern production until 1959 and here we have a modern adaptation of it was well, which may not sit well with purists.


Here we are treated to a 1.78 X 1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks solid, but still demonstrates all of the limitations that the standard definition format can offer.Despite that, the production does not suffer and considering the limitations still produces striking colors, good depth, and fidelity.Released through Naxos, the DVD also features 3 audio options: PCM 2.0, Dolby Digital 5.1, and DTS 5.1.The weakest of the three is the Dolby 5.1 mix, which canít hold a candle to the other two mixes.The Dolby mix feels weak, does not have near the fidelity, and is far too compressed for my taste.The PCM mix is far superior as it feels more balanced and offers more detail and depth in the mix.The biggest advantage here is the mix is more pronounced and even though itís not a multi-channel mix, still delivers a huge soundstage.As most will expect, the DTS 5.1 mix is still favorable due to its ability to feel more realistic and has richness that the other two mixes canít seem to muster.


Both of these releases will make fans happy, although the more popular La Traviata received superior treatment on Blu-ray, the Orlando release should bring more awareness to this lesser-known Handel piece.


Check out the review for Handelís Messiah on DVD-Audio here:





-†† Nate Goss


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