The DVD Thread

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Ken
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The DVD Thread

Post by Ken » Mon Jul 28, 2008 2:47 pm

Hello all,

I have come to realize that, despite my situation of being a young person in these modern times, I am not well acquainted with the medium of DVD. It seems as though I am missing out on some great performances of concert music and of operas because of my reluctance to begin collecting DVDs alongside my CD collecting; I came to this realization after purchasing the wonderful Brahms Symphony cycle by Kurt Masur and the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig re-released for DVD a couple of years ago; the set has a certain lyrical continuity to it that I couldn't have encountered from hearing his only currently-available recording of Brahms Symphonies (that of the First with the NYPO).

As my DVD collection numbers in the single digits while my CD collection is nearing 300, I figured I would take the opportunity to create a thread where we can all post DVD recommendations for one another. I'll begin with that wonderful Brahms set (for those of you who aren't sick of those works already!):

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Brahms: The Four Symphonies
Kurt Masur/Gewandhausorchester Leipzig
Kultur Video

It's your turn now... Who's the local DVD expert around here?
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

Barry
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Barry » Mon Jul 28, 2008 4:01 pm

Some of my favorites:

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I'm recommending this one for the eighth specifically. It's my favorite commercial performance of my favorite Bruckner symphony.

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I don't like what I've heard of Wand's Bruckner as much as many people seem to for the most part, but this great performance is an exception.
"If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee." - Abraham Lincoln

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Seán
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Seán » Mon Jul 28, 2008 5:08 pm

Lovely idea for a thread, Ken.

Well I love this, it's Haitink/BPO and Mahler's First and Second Symphonies:

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Seán

"To appreciate the greatness of the Masters is to keep faith in the greatness of humanity." - Wilhelm Furtwängler


Corlyss_D
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Corlyss_D » Mon Jul 28, 2008 5:38 pm

keninottawa wrote: It seems as though I am missing out on some great performances of concert music and of operas because of my reluctance to begin collecting DVDs alongside my CD collecting;
I don't think concert music suffers from dvd presentation, but operas are a whole nother matter. Save your pennies and cut your opera teeth on live performances. You will be infinitely rewarded. Let your eyes wander where they will; watch what the director does with the chorus and comprimario roles while the principals are belting it out; sit in the upper tiers where you can watch the conductor and the pit band occasionally. If you limit your opera experience to dvds, you'll have to watch what the director wants you to see, usually the principals in full-throat. With dvds you'll rarely get to watch the conductor except briefly at the beginning of each act and the end of the opera, and you'll never get to see the band unless the conductor allows them recognition at some point in which case they aren't playing.
Corlyss
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GK
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by GK » Mon Jul 28, 2008 9:10 pm

For operas, you may consider renting. A large number of opera DVDs are available at Netflix.

Wallingford
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Wallingford » Tue Jul 29, 2008 1:07 am

Now that I've got a DVD recorder, I'm considering duping my old VHS tapes of the (defunct?) Classic Arts Showcase channel, from the late 90s. CAS ran historical vocal, instrumental & orchestral tidbits (smaller works & certain movements of larger works, along with occasional classic film clips).

These tapes I recorded at the slow speed, from my little bitty mono TV; and in comparing the sound of the DVD+R's super-slow recording speed (EP) with the high-quality speed (XR), I'm astounded at the difference in sound quality, but this means I'll only get an hour's worth of material per disc. I may just dupe a 4- or 6-disc box set of my fave picks from these tapes (the original broadcast quality, coming from the community access channel, was atrocious!).
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Ken
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Ken » Tue Jul 29, 2008 7:47 am

Corlyss, your points are appreciated. However, as I've mentioned a few times on this forum, opera as a genre I haven't altogether delved into, and I would like to change that. I have a general idea of 'what' I like, and considering I currently live in a city without a professional opera company, I feel that DVDs are a good way of getting a feel for the repertory. Thankfully my local library stocks a decent selection of opera DVDs, so I don't need to commit to anything (not to mention that I might be living in Berlin this time next year, so owning opera DVDs would quickly become superfluous!)

Sean, I was looking at that disc of Haitink's Mahler on ArkivMusic the other day, but I haven't yet heard Haitink's take on the composer. How would you describe his evaluation of these two symphonies?
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

John F
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by John F » Tue Jul 29, 2008 1:08 pm

In concert music anyway, I don't really need to see the players bowing and scraping, <grin> and generally I watch the video part of a DVD only once or twice, though I may listen to the soundtrack repeatedly. In classical music, DVD may clarify this or that, and perhaps satisfy one's curiosity, but for me that's about it.

As for opera, however, I disagree strongly with Corlyss. This is a dramatic form, with characters in action in a setting, and a DVD of a good production is truer to the art and (I think) a more appropriate experience of it than listening "blind." Between watching the same performance in an opera house and on video, which I've sometimes done, the live experience is almost always better because it's your own eyes, not the camera's, that choose what you look at. But between a DVD of a good performance and production, and the live experience of a mediocre or poor performance and/or a trashy production, I'll go for quality every time regardless of the medium.
John Francis

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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Corlyss_D » Tue Jul 29, 2008 1:25 pm

keninottawa wrote:considering I currently live in a city without a professional opera company, I feel that DVDs are a good way of getting a feel for the repertory.
I understand, Ken. I developed my approach to learning an opera when Washington didn't have an opera company. Now there's not much I haven't seen at least once somewhere. But back in the day, this is how I got into an opera - I bought a recording, studied the libretto and anything else available on it, like for instance Ernest Newman's excellent treatments of the standard rep. If I really liked the music, I got more than one recording and bounced one off the other to plumb the differences. I had more or less imagined the performance in my head by the time I saw my first production. I agree with John that a dvd of a good performance is better than a live performance if the latter is not realized IAW the composer's wishes. Two productions that come readily to mind are the NYCO's NY premier of Mozart's Tito in 1979, which was execrable, and Ponnelle's late stagings of Figaro and La Traviata.

If you do live in Berlin next year, you're wandering into what I'd call enemy territory because German directors are passionately devoted to trashing traditional stagings of operas. The one exception to that I can think of off hand is Walter Felsenstein's productions, but even he had his off moments. I can think of quite a few German productions I wouldn't want to see, even though I would like to see a staging of a particular opera, simply because I can't take their efforts seriously - they amount to trendy ridicule of the composer and the opera. Handel is one that really takes a beating from them, even though they have a strong Handel tradition in Germany. The more you have seen by the time you get to Berlin, the better off you'll be.
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Ken
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Ken » Tue Jul 29, 2008 2:53 pm

^ I know what you're talking about in regards to Berlin; I saw a performance of Don Giovanni at the Staatsoper this April and it was by no means a 'traditional' approach. ;)
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

Jack Kelso
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Jul 30, 2008 2:15 am

Corlyss_D wrote:If you do live in Berlin next year, you're wandering into what I'd call enemy territory because German directors are passionately devoted to trashing traditional stagings of operas. The one exception to that I can think of off hand is Walter Felsenstein's productions, but even he had his off moments. I can think of quite a few German productions I wouldn't want to see, even though I would like to see a staging of a particular opera, simply because I can't take their efforts seriously - they amount to trendy ridicule of the composer and the opera. Handel is one that really takes a beating from them, even though they have a strong Handel tradition in Germany. The more you have seen by the time you get to Berlin, the better off you'll be.
Yes, this IS a problem here....not only in Berlin, but in Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Hamburg---even in our own---relatively conservative---Mannheim. We've seen some wonderful traditional performances here of "Der fliegende Holländer", "Tosca", Madama Butterfly" and "Don Giovanni". Yet too many impressarios are trying to make themselves immortal (immoral?!) by "trashing tradition"---and while that modernist style might work with Hindemith, Krenek, Henze and Zender, it is meeting with more and more public disgust in the Classical/Romantic repertoire.

By the way, the Berlin recording I have of Handel's "Solomon" is just marvelous (on BERLIN CLASSICS)!! And it sounds fine sung in German.

Tschüß!
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

Holden Fourth
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Holden Fourth » Wed Jul 30, 2008 3:21 am

Here are some I picked up lately or I really like.

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and I have to agree with Barry's option of the Verdi Requiem. This is non pareil as far as I'm concerned.

I also have:

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Gary
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Gary » Wed Jul 30, 2008 9:19 pm

C. Kleiber's Carmen


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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Corlyss_D » Wed Jul 30, 2008 9:29 pm

Jack Kelso wrote:it is meeting with more and more public disgust in the Classical/Romantic repertoire.
Looking for information here: it's good to see the public fighting back, but how much influence does the public have when the arts are so heavily state supported?
By the way, the Berlin recording I have of Handel's "Solomon" is just marvelous (on BERLIN CLASSICS)!! And it sounds fine sung in German.
Is that the one where everyone was got up in Nazi uniforms? Or was that an opera they did that to?
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Jack Kelso
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Jack Kelso » Thu Jul 31, 2008 12:26 am

Corlyss_D wrote:
Jack Kelso wrote:it is meeting with more and more public disgust in the Classical/Romantic repertoire.
Looking for information here: it's good to see the public fighting back, but how much influence does the public have when the arts are so heavily state supported?
By the way, the Berlin recording I have of Handel's "Solomon" is just marvelous (on BERLIN CLASSICS)!! And it sounds fine sung in German.
Is that the one where everyone was got up in Nazi uniforms? Or was that an opera they did that to?
Hearty-har-har-har!! Now, that's a real hum-dinger and a good ol' knee-slapper, Corlyss! No, you're confusing Handel with Wagner's "Parsifal" (but then, you KNOW that, right?!).

Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Corlyss_D » Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:24 am

Jack Kelso wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:Is that the one where everyone was got up in Nazi uniforms? Or was that an opera they did that to?
Hearty-har-har-har!! Now, that's a real hum-dinger and a good ol' knee-slapper, Corlyss! No, you're confusing Handel with Wagner's "Parsifal" (but then, you KNOW that, right?!).
No, I'm not kidding. I just can't remember if it wasan opera or a staging of an oratorio. It isn't recent, i.e., within the last 10 years, but you know what they say about opera productions: the good are oft interred after a couple of seasons but the bad live on for decades.
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Jack Kelso
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Jack Kelso » Thu Jul 31, 2008 2:49 am

I said this about the current "Parsifal" production in Beyreuth (see thread on "Parsifal"):

Next thing you'll hear is that San Francisco will be staging Douglas Moore's opera, "Giants in the Earth" and have the Norwegian settlers' wives battling the Sioux Nation Custer-style.

As you know, Handel's oratorios are not normally "staged", but rather sung in concertante style, so no one would be wearing any kind of uniforms anyway...just concert attire. Let the crazy promoters and impressarios pick on Rossini or Verdi!

Tschüß!
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

Madame
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Madame » Thu Jul 31, 2008 4:14 am

Corlyss_D wrote:
keninottawa wrote: It seems as though I am missing out on some great performances of concert music and of operas because of my reluctance to begin collecting DVDs alongside my CD collecting;
I don't think concert music suffers from dvd presentation, but operas are a whole nother matter. Save your pennies and cut your opera teeth on live performances. You will be infinitely rewarded. Let your eyes wander where they will; watch what the director does with the chorus and comprimario roles while the principals are belting it out; sit in the upper tiers where you can watch the conductor and the pit band occasionally. If you limit your opera experience to dvds, you'll have to watch what the director wants you to see, usually the principals in full-throat. With dvds you'll rarely get to watch the conductor except briefly at the beginning of each act and the end of the opera, and you'll never get to see the band unless the conductor allows them recognition at some point in which case they aren't playing.
I have a couple of operas filmed on location, and they are wonderful!
Speaking of "Carmen" with Placido Domingo and Julia Migenes ,
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and "Madame Butterfly" with Ying Huang and Richard Troxel.
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TopoGigio

Re: The DVD Thread

Post by TopoGigio » Thu Jul 31, 2008 12:47 pm

Some special events...
HAYDN: Schopfung (Die) (The Creation) (Kuhn) (NTSC)

Gabriel - Arleen Augér
Uriel - Peter Schreier
Raphael - Walter Berry
Eva - Gabriele Sima
Adam - Roland Hermann

Arnold Schoenberg Chor (chorus master: Erwin Ortner)
Collegium Aureum
Gustav Kuhn, conductor

Recorded at the Alte Universität, Wien, 31 March 1982

Picture format: NTSC 4:3
Sound format: LPCM Stereo
Region code: All Region
Booklet notes: English, German, French
Running time: 114 mins + 18 mins (documentary)
No. of DVDs: 1 (DVD 9)


TDK presents Joseph Haydn's famous oratorio Die Schöpfung (The Creation) in a recording that paid tribute not only to the composer but also to the importance of historical performance practice.

The performance on this DVD was the high point of a festival organized by the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna to mark the 250th anniversary of the composer's birth. This recording was filmed on 31 March – Haydn's probable birthday – in the Great Hall of the Old University.
(the last apparition of Haydn was there, at a concert given in his honor,on 27 March 1808, Salieri as conductor of Die Schöpfung.At almost seventy-six, Haydn was carried to the hall in a sedan chair before an audience that included Ludwig van Beethoven :?: ...)

This gala performance uses a reduced chorus of thirty-eight singers and an orchestra of more or less the same size and instruments of the kind that were customary in Haydn's day, achieving a much darker and mellower string sound, and a sympathetic blend of the wind instruments' characteristic colours and registers. The woodwinds in particular are frequently used by Haydn for onomatopoeic effect, but the brass and even the lower strings are similarly employed.

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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by GK » Fri Aug 01, 2008 6:18 pm

Last night one of our local PBS stations showed the recent Met Opera production of Donizetti's "Daughter of the Regiment".I regard it as perhaps the best opera production I've ever seen with respect to singing, acting, and directing. The just about perfect cast was headed by two of today's operatic superstars Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Florez. It's available on DVD. One limitation, on the PBS presentation subtitles were difficult to read because they frequently were shown over a light background. Perhaps this was rectified on the DVD.

Ken
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Ken » Mon Aug 04, 2008 2:20 pm

Two purchases that I'm mulling over:

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Schumann: Symphony No. 3, 'Rhenish'
Kent Nagano/Deutsches Sinfonieorchester Berlin
Arthaus Musik

Embarrasingly, I have yet to see a live performance of what is, without a doubt, my favourite piece of music. I have read mixed reviews of this DVD, though the reaction seems to be decent overall and I've liked what I've heard from Nagano in the past. For $15, I think it's worth the investment.

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Bruckner: Symphony No. 4, 'Romantic'
Gunter Wand/NDR Sinfonieorchester
TDK

I understand that Wand is considered by many to be one of the great Bruckner interpreters. Perhaps seeing this symphony 'live' will turn me on to a composer who I've yet to become very excited about...

Does anyone know any of these two videos? Are they worth my nickles and dimes?
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

Jack Kelso
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Jack Kelso » Tue Aug 05, 2008 12:21 am

The Nagano recording I'm not familiar with. But if the 4th movement (Feierlich) is taken faster than 5-and-a-half minutes, don't get it....unless you enjoy your Schumann being pushed too hard and sounding like Haydn.

As for the Bruckner, as yet I haven't been terribly impressed with Wand's interpretative "genius", neither for this composer, nor for Schumann (3rd and 4th) or Brahms (1st, 3rd and 4th). On the other hand, I enjoy his Beethoven 1st and all of his Haydn I've heard so far.

But seeing AND hearing symphonies is great in itself---so go to it, Ken. We've heard the "Rhenish" live now three times in the last two years. When you can SEE the music being performed you can also HEAR more instruments. The brain moves in wonderful ways.

Good listening!
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

Ken
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Ken » Tue Aug 05, 2008 6:55 am

You're very fortunate, Jack -- in moments of whimsy I've often glanced at the schedules for German orchestras and have noticed the Rhenish appearing with relative frequency. On this side of the ocean, the piece is rarely played, though I have had a chance to see the 'Spring' Symphony twice (in both cases an apperatif to more 'serious' works later in the program).

Thanks for your feedback. I'll probably go ahead with the purchase... Oh, and by the way, Nagano's 'Rhenish' clocks in with a total time of 36 minutes - 2 or 3 minutes longer than most of the recordings I have. This pretty guarantees a truly 'solemn' fourth movement; I only hope that that the whole work doesn't languish in late-Schumann gloom and lose the sprightly edge that it deserves.
Du sollst schlechte Compositionen weder spielen, noch, wenn du nicht dazu gezwungen bist, sie anhören.

Jack Kelso
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Jack Kelso » Wed Aug 06, 2008 12:09 am

keninottawa wrote:You're very fortunate, Jack -- in moments of whimsy I've often glanced at the schedules for German orchestras and have noticed the Rhenish appearing with relative frequency. On this side of the ocean, the piece is rarely played, though I have had a chance to see the 'Spring' Symphony twice (in both cases an apperatif to more 'serious' works later in the program).

Thanks for your feedback. I'll probably go ahead with the purchase... Oh, and by the way, Nagano's 'Rhenish' clocks in with a total time of 36 minutes - 2 or 3 minutes longer than most of the recordings I have. This pretty guarantees a truly 'solemn' fourth movement; I only hope that that the whole work doesn't languish in late-Schumann gloom and lose the sprightly edge that it deserves.
I might pick up that "Rhenish" myself---36 min. sounds very reasonable, as long as Nagano doesn't drag the 2nd mvt and rush the 4th!

"More serious works" than the "Spring"? Hmm. It's certainly on a par with Beethoven's 6th or Brahms' 3rd as far as seriousness goes....and other qualities as well.

Enjoy your purchases, Ken!

Tschüß!
Jack
"Schumann's our music-maker now." ---Robert Browning

TopoGigio

Re: The DVD Thread

Post by TopoGigio » Wed Aug 06, 2008 12:24 pm

(Erased by Topo)
Last edited by TopoGigio on Sun Dec 07, 2008 8:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

TopoGigio

Re: The DVD Thread

Post by TopoGigio » Thu Aug 07, 2008 2:19 pm

And now an American... :) Nobody loves happy Christie,at least :?:
Raymond Tuttle wrote: Ulisse was one of the first operas to be written for the public stage, not for royalty. Monteverdi was in his seventies when he wrote it, yet it is a work of intense and youthful passion, as well as wisdom. At nearly three hours (in this version, anyway), it demands a lot from its audience, and seeing it at home via DVD is a great way to make its acquaintance.
This production dates from 2000; this particular live performance was recorded in the fairly intimate Théâtre de Jeu de Palme in 2002. The production is simple but eloquent. Essentially, there is one set, but it is made to do a lot of work through varied lighting, props, and so on. The young cast scampers over and around it like sailors on a tall ship.
Christie selected the cast members for their looks and acting abilities, as well as for their singing voices. Indeed, there is not a single name in the cast list that was familiar to me. Early on, it becomes clear that Christie chose well. Operatic voices are not required for Monteverdi. Instead, singers must have a grasp on period style and refined vocal expression. Planting one's feet and letting the sound rip is not going to work in Ulisse. The line between singing actors and acting singers becomes happily blurred.
An earlier DVD of this opera featured the work of Nikolaus Harnoncourt, and, in the central role of Penelope, mezzo-soprano Vessalina Kasarova. That DVD was a knockout, but this is one is no less fine. Here, Penelope is sung by the heron-like Marijana Mijanović, a visually striking study in vertical lines. Ulysses is the burly but tender Krešimir Špicer, who convincingly pretends to be an aged beggar throughout most of the opera. All of the cast members are notable in one way or another, but special kudos are deserved by Cyril Auvity (as Telemachus, Ulysses's and Penelope's son), and Olga Pitarch, in the dual roles of Minerva (the goddess who arranges the hero's return to his homeland) and Love. Robert Burt combines pathos and humor as Irus, the gluttonous blowhard who hopes to profit from Penelope's remarriage. (After the suitors are killed by Ulysses, he commits suicide for fear of going hungry.) As in Harnoncourt's version, Christie favors a richer complement of instruments than was the style in "authentic" performances from the 1960s.
Choosing between Harnoncourt and Christie is difficult. The former version is more operatically sung, more opulent, and more immediately engaging. Christie's, on the other hand, feels purer and closer not just to the spirit of Monteverdi, but to Homer as well. (It is a bit longer as well.) Kasarova and Mijanović both are goddesses, to my mind. Christie's cast is probably the more sympathetic of the two, but I could live with either.

Seán
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Seán » Fri Aug 08, 2008 6:56 pm

Another HMV bargain buy, Bernstein's essay on Gustav Mahler recorded by the BBC several years ago. Very interesting and very enlightening too:

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Seán

"To appreciate the greatness of the Masters is to keep faith in the greatness of humanity." - Wilhelm Furtwängler

TopoGigio

Re: The DVD Thread

Post by TopoGigio » Sat Aug 09, 2008 3:02 am

Sean reminds me of Bertini...well, this time no Mahler...Prokofiev War and
Peace at Bastille(ofRalphfame)performance...Beware,CUTs. :(
About War and Peace by Bertini,Marc Musnick wrote: I had heard so much praise about this production that perhaps my expectations were too high but I was disappointed. This performance in no way replaces the fine Kirov version, which of course is idiomatic and has more soul musically and is more dramatically inventive. I know this opera very well and it is one my favorites. The Bastille performance is cut and since it is trimed, why was the overture cut? I doubt adding a few extra minutes to the first act would have been such a big deal. Someone complained that the Kirov production was too minimalistic and yet this one is also sparse.

But one of the outstanding things about this performance is the Natasha of the wonderful Russian soprano Olga Gurakova. For me, her performance alone made the purchase worth the price. The first act is really about Natasha and Gurakova carries it brilliantly. Handsome Nathan Gunn is just right as Andrei and he catches the character's melencholy moodiness perfectly. Their reunion in the second half is heartbreaking. Gurakova's reaction at being reunited with him speaks volumes and she literally kisses his feet. This might sound over the top but in Gurakova's hands, it seems spontaneous and "in the moment". I want to see more of this wonderful soprano.

Too bad a video was not made of the Metropolitan Opera's production which was a joint venture with the Kirov and neither of the two available DVDs replaced my memories of that production. Anna Netrebko was a brilliant Natasha, this was long before she became a media darling, so her performance was a complete surprise to me. Hunky Hvorostovsky was a wonderful Andrei, and surpassed Gunn vocally with his elegant phrasing, richer and darker voice and endless legato singing. But Gunn's performance was better dramatically. The production was so cinematic that I never felt the length and it was complete enough that each half was approximately two hours. Again the overture was cut and for some reason it was decided to cut Natasha's attempted suicide, but it was one of the most amazing theatrical experiences of my life. The spectacle was overwhelming. When Moscow burned, it literally burned on the stage of the Met. When Neopolian retreated in the middle of a blizzard, that scene really looked like a blizzard on the stage of the Met. The Met's magnificent orchestra was at it's best and that fine chorus almost had me believing they were Russian. And it was easy for the audience to relate to this nationalistic opera because only a few months before the run the 9/11 terrorist attacks occured.

Well, anyway, I obviously was not bowled over by the Bastille's production and I recommend the Kirov's DVD for a performance that is totally Russian and has much more soul than it's French counterpart.
At Old OperaNews
Richard Burke wrote: More than half a century after its completion, Prokofiev’s War and Peace finally seems to be getting the attention it deserves. There have been not only a number of recent productions around the world but the simultaneous appearance of two DVDs, one from the Kirov Opera, the other from Opéra Bastille. The Russian performance, however, is the one from 1991 released some years ago on VHS, a minimalist production, consisting of simple, often abstract sets and attractive period costumes. A large painted tree serves as a backdrop to a pair of plain white flats, each providing sets of double doors through which the cast enters and exits. These movable walls work best when suggesting the various interiors of Part I; by the time we get to Part II, the novelty has worn off, and the walls begin to look like a line of commercial storage bins, a look not helped by director Graham Vick’s penchant for dull work-lighting in some spots. Still, the director has chosen to tell the story in a clear, straightforward manner, and the crowd scenes, in particular, are very effective. The ballroom scene in Part I is beautifully staged and splendidly danced — even Natasha and Andrei join in.

The Paris Opera production from 2000 is quite lavish by comparison. The sets in Part I are not elaborate, but they are rich and colorful and immediately evoke the luxurious lifestyle of the Russian aristocracy. In Part II, the battle scenes are darkly vivid, with a striking use of color and light. Francesca Zambello has directed the splendid cast in a nicely detailed performance. The transitions between the scenes are smooth and imaginative. Her decision to have Natasha and Pierre embrace in the final scene is moving and dramatically satisfying, and it is certainly justified by the novel if not actually called for in the libretto.

Musically both productions are quite strong. Gergiev is one of the great Prokofiev interpreters of our time. He understands precisely how to pace this richly varied music, and the Kirov orchestra responds with playing of great color and, often, impressive power. Bertini’s is an intelligent performance, a bit more willful perhaps, as in the great waltz in Part I, where he begins very slowly, suddenly picking up the tempo for no apparent reason. Both Yelena Prokina for the Kirov and Olga Guryakova for Paris understand and convey Natasha’s passionate spontaneity. Prokina has the prettier voice of the two, but both are youthful and attractive and are quite moving in Andrei’s death scene. Although Alexander Gergalov, in the Kirov version, is a fine singing actor, Nathan Gunn, in the Paris cast, is the perfect Prince Andrei, dashing and noble in appearance, with a warm, communicative voice to match. Robert Brubaker (in Paris) sings beautifully and emphasizes the vulnerable, likable aspects of Pierre, but Gegam Grigorian for the Kirov brings an informed intensity to the role that clarifies much of the character’s behavior. I often wondered why Pierre would so easily take back his impassioned denunciation of Kuragin after his attempted seduction of Natasha. Grigorian’s sarcastic delivery of his apology to Kuragin makes perfect sense. Kutuzov, whose scenes are musically crucial to Part II, is sung very well by Nikolai Okhotnikov for the Kirov, but Anatoli Kotcherga, for Paris, gives an even more stirring reading of the Field Marshal’s big number.

Gergiev performs everything in the published score, including the overture and the problematic choral epilogue, which is played at the opening of Act II. In the Paris performance, there are quite a few minor cuts in Part I and a number of major ones in Part II. Wisely chosen, these excisions help make the final moments of the work more concise and direct. Still, some wonderful music is omitted in the process. The overture is also dropped, but the choral epilogue is there. Its placement at the end of Part I, right on the heels of Pierre’s response to the news that the French have entered Moscow, is very effective.

With excellent sound on both recordings (there are stage noises, of course), it would be hard to choose a favorite. For textual fidelity and a powerful musical reading, the Kirov can be highly recommended. For a beautifully realized staging of the work, however, the Paris Opera is a clear winner. The latter includes a documentary on the making of the performance. It is, at nearly eighty minutes, a little long, but it does show the extraordinary efforts that go into mounting a work of such magnitude.

Last edited by TopoGigio on Sat Aug 09, 2008 3:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

TopoGigio

Re: The DVD Thread

Post by TopoGigio » Sat Aug 09, 2008 3:45 am

And the Kirov-Kultur DVD ....critics choice... :)
...
Somebody wrote:
The Kirov production is fine ensemble work and is performed with sprit and conviction. DVD sound and picture quality are very good (this is a two-disk set, although the description does not indicate that). My only minor compaint is that I find the sets a bit too minimalistic for such a sweeping work, but that's just niggling. This is a must-see for anyone who loves Russian opera, particularly since few of us will ever get a chance to see this one live. :)

TopoGigio

Re: The DVD Thread

Post by TopoGigio » Sat Aug 09, 2008 4:14 am

(Erased by Topo)
Last edited by TopoGigio on Sun Dec 07, 2008 8:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

TopoGigio

Re: The DVD Thread

Post by TopoGigio » Sat Aug 09, 2008 5:45 am

And more russies... :)
David Shengold wrote: One of Valery Gergiev’s early coups in the post-Soviet period was to renew the historic 1904 Mariinsky staging of Glinka’s influential 1842 opera. Thierry Bosquet expertly re-created the famously lavish storybook sets and costumes by Alexander Golovin and Konstantin Korovin; Mikhail Fokine’s 1917 choreography is used (executed with high competence rather than brilliance).

This 1995 taping has been available on video, but the new release in DTS 5.1 surround sound makes a stronger case for Glinka’s magically orchestrated score; and the colorful production seems to give off a brighter fairy-tale radiance than before. The episodic “rescue tale” Ruslan — with three contrasted knights tracking down the wizard-abducted heroine, Kievan princess Lyudmila — is frankly an opera that newcomers (and even Glinka partisans) may well want to experience in nonsequential segments rather than in one fell swoop. Helpful synopsis texts appear before scenes and during the frequent entr’actes.

Pushkin’s narrative poem and Glinka’s music provide enough imagination to compensate for any such lack in Lofti Mansouri’s opulent, rather static staging (a co-production with San Francisco Opera). The cast emerges universally strong, with the three leading women particularly dazzling vocally and visually. Anna Netrebko, at twenty-three, presents a ravishing Lyudmila of astounding poise and natural gifts. Galina Gorchakova offers her radiant best as the loyal maiden Gorislava. Best of all, mezzo Larissa Diadkova sings with enchanting mellow beauty as Gorislava’s (wandering) beloved, the Khazar prince Ratmir. The men don’t reach such historic heights but are solidly deployed: as the valiant Ruslan, bass Vladimir Ognovenko in particular does well by a rare serious romantic role. Even Yuri Marusin’s bizarrely produced, often underpitched tenor sounds appropriately mysterious as the bard Bayan.

Gergiev’s orchestral forces lavish loving care on the amazingly rich score that left structural and harmonic traces in Russian music from Borodin and Rimsky through Stravinsky and Shostakovich. The release includes “Introducing Ruslan,” an eighteen-minute interview with Gergiev centering on the opera and this production, and a less insightful (but rather entertaining) fifty-nine-minute portrait of his frantic activity entitled “Catching up with Music.”
Last edited by TopoGigio on Sun Aug 17, 2008 5:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Aug 16, 2008 3:53 pm

Madame wrote:I have a couple of operas filmed on location, and they are wonderful!
Speaking of "Carmen" with Placido Domingo and Julia Migenes ,
Image
You know, now that I think of it, that Carmen was soooooo good it could have been staged by Zeffirelli.
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by slofstra » Sat Aug 16, 2008 4:45 pm

Nancy and I recently watched that movie production of Madame Butterfly. Did you watch the 'extra' on how Ying Huang won the role? She came almost out of nowhere; what a great performance. In a movie production you can't have an overweight 35 year old woman playing that role; that was the case in the last stage production I saw, but on the stage you can pretty much get away with it if the voice is good, which it was.

It was also interesting to see how they record the whole thing in the studio in controlled conditions, and then lip sync to their own singing on the set.

What other full movie productions of operas exist and are worthwhile? I know Zeffirelli has done a few.

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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by slofstra » Sat Aug 16, 2008 4:49 pm

Perhaps someone could fill me in on the benefit of an orchestral DVD production. Why not listen to the CD and you don't have to tie up your eyes. :)

Pianists are another story. Love to watch them at work. I have too few to make a recommendation, but then, does it matter? I will buy the odd one here and there; can't go wrong really if you have enjoyed the performer on CD.

Most of all I enjoy documentary type DVDs. I have a few: Mravinsky, Kathleen Ferrier, and Keith Jarrett come to mind. They almost always leave me hungry for more information though.

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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Aug 16, 2008 4:58 pm

slofstra wrote:What other full movie productions of operas exist and are worthwhile? I know Zeffirelli has done a few.
The Rose-Schenk Der Rosenkavalier from Munich with Jones and Popp and Fassbaender; Zeffirelli's La Traviata; Wiegl's haunting Werther with Fassbaender. You might think I'm biased because Fassbaender is in two of them, and she's one of my favorite singing actors. You might be right; but they are damn fine productions, the Rosenkavalier is legendary, and the Werther not that well known but Charlotte was one of Fassbaender's favorite roles and she brings an immediacy and pathos to a role that is often treated like a minor Marschallin in detachment, i.e., poignant rather than tragic.
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by barney » Sat Aug 16, 2008 6:40 pm

Corlyss_D wrote:[
I don't think concert music suffers from dvd presentation, but operas are a whole nother matter. Save your pennies and cut your opera teeth on live performances.
I completely agree, and think this is an important truth. When I was young, last week or thereabouts, I used to think CDs were a better investment because you had them for a lot longer, but I now see CDS as essential but subsidiary to live music. Now, luckily, it's not either/or. I get a lot of free tickets because of my job, but I also subscribe, and I go to about 50-60 concerts/recitals/operas a year, and almost never regret one, even though I live 30km out of the city.

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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Corlyss_D » Sat Aug 16, 2008 7:15 pm

barney wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:I don't think concert music suffers from dvd presentation, but operas are a whole nother matter. Save your pennies and cut your opera teeth on live performances.
I completely agree, and think this is an important truth. When I was young, last week or thereabouts, I used to think CDs were a better investment because you had them for a lot longer, but I now see CDS as essential but subsidiary to live music. Now, luckily, it's not either/or. I get a lot of free tickets because of my job, but I also subscribe, and I go to about 50-60 concerts/recitals/operas a year, and almost never regret one, even though I live 30km out of the city.
You've intrigued me. What's your job, and will it make the rest of us :mrgreen: with envy?
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by slofstra » Sun Aug 17, 2008 12:06 am

Corlyss_D wrote:
barney wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:I don't think concert music suffers from dvd presentation, but operas are a whole nother matter. Save your pennies and cut your opera teeth on live performances.
I completely agree, and think this is an important truth. When I was young, last week or thereabouts, I used to think CDs were a better investment because you had them for a lot longer, but I now see CDS as essential but subsidiary to live music. Now, luckily, it's not either/or. I get a lot of free tickets because of my job, but I also subscribe, and I go to about 50-60 concerts/recitals/operas a year, and almost never regret one, even though I live 30km out of the city.
You've intrigued me. What's your job, and will it make the rest of us :mrgreen: with envy?
There's only one job that gets free tickets and it ain't restaurant critic. :D

P.S. Ordered Das Rosenkavalier as well as Die Schopfung mentioned by TopoGigio.

barney
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by barney » Sun Aug 17, 2008 3:06 am

slofstra wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:
barney wrote:
Corlyss_D wrote:I don't think concert music suffers from dvd presentation, but operas are a whole nother matter. Save your pennies and cut your opera teeth on live performances.
I completely agree, and think this is an important truth. When I was young, last week or thereabouts, I used to think CDs were a better investment because you had them for a lot longer, but I now see CDS as essential but subsidiary to live music. Now, luckily, it's not either/or. I get a lot of free tickets because of my job, but I also subscribe, and I go to about 50-60 concerts/recitals/operas a year, and almost never regret one, even though I live 30km out of the city.
You've intrigued me. What's your job, and will it make the rest of us :mrgreen: with envy?
There's only one job that gets free tickets and it ain't restaurant critic. :D

P.S. Ordered Das Rosenkavalier as well as Die Schopfung mentioned by TopoGigio.
Actually, there's a couple. What about B list celebrity - someone who once appeared in a soap opera or on Oprah? But the other is the correct one because I'm not even a Z-list celebrity, let alone XXX. I am a journalist who often writes on musical subjects, which means even the ones I subscribe to are tax deductible. So there are times when you might be green with envy but times when you might be that colour from other emotions.

Lord Byron understood the craft well:
A would be satirist, a hired buffoon,
A monthly scribbler of some low lampoon,
Condemned to drudge, the meanest of the mean,
And furbish falsehoods for a magazine.
- Lord Byron

Seán
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Seán » Sat Aug 23, 2008 7:29 am

This is a visual and musical delight: Claudio Abbado conducting the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in a lovely performance of Mahler's Sixth.

Image
Seán

"To appreciate the greatness of the Masters is to keep faith in the greatness of humanity." - Wilhelm Furtwängler

absinthe
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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by absinthe » Sat Aug 23, 2008 1:34 pm

I have to admit that I can't imagine buying opera on CD any more (unless it's a must-have and unavailable in a worthwhile production on DVD). The problem is finding reliable reviews or a copy to borrow to check I'll get on with it.

As to orchestral on DVD...more difficult and short of live performance I'd still go for a CD. The few orchestral DVDs or television broadcasts I've seen have disappointed. I don't always want to see the shot the editor wants me to see. I usually sit behind the conductor at concerts so don't like being shown their front view. Sometimes the editor highlights a soloist (within the orchestra, not a concerto performer) and that's fine except for clarinets and oboes - flautists too on occasion. They try to conduct with their instruments or wave them about as if to coax the last drop of tone from them.

The recent broadcast of Pierre Boulez doing a Janacek evening was a case in point. Everything was all right until the buildup to the recap in the last movement (Sinfonietta) when an E-flat clarinet (I think) was being featured. This female was waving the thing around and I had a sudden vision of the lid of a basket on the floor lifting and a cobra rearing up from it. I creased up (so did the person with me when I explained and she could easily see what I meant). From that moment on, the affectations of the musicians seemed to concern us more than the music. Thankfully we settled down for the subsequent works but I fear whenever I hear that movement I'll see a snake charmer.

But I suppose this kind of presentation is something to which one grows accustomed. Having said that, the National Youth Orchestra is doing tonight's prom on BBC2 any minute.

Edit: Yup, here it goes. Varèse's Amèriques. There must be hundreds of people playing it...crikey, about a dozen percussionists. 6 harps?
talk later...

TopoGigio

Re: The DVD Thread

Post by TopoGigio » Sun Aug 24, 2008 4:55 am

(Erased by Topo)
Last edited by TopoGigio on Sun Dec 07, 2008 9:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Seán » Tue Sep 09, 2008 3:06 pm

Tonight I watched and listened to the great Claudio Abbado conduct the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in a rousing interpretation of Mahler's Seventh Symphony.

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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Seán » Sun Dec 07, 2008 3:28 pm

Mahler's Third Symphony is a feature in my home this weekend. I have watched and listened to the Abbado/Lucerne Festival Orchestra DVD of the M3 on Saturday and on Sunday. It is magnificent on the Pioneer 42", in fact on any medium for that matter.

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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by maestrob » Mon Dec 08, 2008 10:02 am

Sean:

Somebody's going to give me that Mahler III as a Christmas present :!:

I love Abbado in Mahler: right now, I think he's the best we've got.

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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by HoustonDavid » Mon Dec 08, 2008 12:42 pm

Thank you Ken for starting this wonderful thread, which seems to be an instant success. And welcome back to a full-throated Corlyss!!!

Colleen, I too have the two "filmed" operas, "Carmen" and "Madama Butterfly" and think they add to the opera genre by also making it a film genre. Franco Zeffirelli has directed a few operas, "staging" them as films, such as "La Bohème" with José Carreras and Renata Scotto. A renowned film director (like Zeffereli, or Francesco Rosi who did "Carmen" with Placido Domingo) can make an opera come to life on film. He "stages" them differently because it is film, not a live production, and needs the touches a film-based director can bring. Zeffirelli is also well-known for his filming of Shakespeare's plays. I wish he would do more of both because film is such a great art form and combines with other vocal and visual art forms so well.

Speaking of music DVDs and my (second) home state of Texas, I must brag about the world renowned Cliburn Piano Competition, which occurs every four years in the remarable little city of Fort Worth. Fortunately, many of the live performances are filmed and made available on DVD at reasonable prices. Check out their Website at:

http://www.cliburn.org/

One side of their DVDs is devoted to live performance recordings, the other to the story of the competition and the competitors. One of the joys of living in Texas, including the Houston Grand Opera, also one of our home grown contributions to the arts.
"May You be born in interesting (maybe confusing?) times" - Chinese Proverb (or Curse)

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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by HoustonDavid » Mon Dec 08, 2008 1:01 pm

Absinthe (and others):

Years ago, when I first joined CMG -- this is my third time around -- I pointed out to people listening (and watching) DVD music, that the only difference between a music CD and a music DVD is the visual. If you have a reasonably good sound system, your CD/DVD player feeds through your amplifier, as does your television (unless you have the television sound turned on). All you need do, if you don't want to watch the video, is turn off the television!! :!: , which everyone should probably do more often anyway :) . Television speakers should be turned off with the sound diverted to your sound system, a much superior reproduction medium. Actually, you can have them both on simultaneously with some systems, but I don't think the extra speakers add very much. Give it a try!! :wink:
"May You be born in interesting (maybe confusing?) times" - Chinese Proverb (or Curse)

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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by Dimma » Fri Sep 27, 2013 12:36 am

An interesting topic so I am lifting it up to the top. Any great suggestions on great operas on DVD? I am all ears (literally)..... :lol: :lol: :lol:

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Re: The DVD Thread

Post by josé echenique » Fri Sep 27, 2013 8:16 am

There are a lot of great opera performances on DVD, from vintage treasures like a mid 60´s production of L´ Elisir d´Amore with Renata Scotto and Carlo Bergonzi, important because neither recorded the opera commercially, even when the production is poor to say the least, to lavish, state-of-the-art productions like the Robert Carsen production of Les Contes d´Hoffmann at La Bastille or the stunning, superbly acted Les Troyens with Anna Caterina Antonacci and Susan Graham under Sir John Eliot Gardiner at Le Chatelet.
A favorite of mine is a delicious production of La Belle Helene with Felicity Lott and conducted by Marc Minkowski. The production by Laurent Pelly is sheer genius.

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