KEN RUSSELL'S VIEW OF THE PLANETS
This Royal Opera Carmen was released several years ago in 3-D, mentioned on this site (REVIEW). Christine Rice and Bryan Hymel are a strong pair of ill-fated lovers. This American tenor, now at the beginning of his career, can be heard in a wide variety of roles on a Decca CD (REVIEW). This Royal Opera production also can be seen in their DVD featuring Antonacci in the title role with Jonas Kaufmann as José (REVIEW). The new Opus Arte issue is poorly produced. One could reasonably expect there to be separate tracks for each aria, but not here. Instead, each act is divided into several sections. There even is not a track for the opening of the opera—instead we see Hymel rehearsing in his dressing room! And there is no printed list of tracks and what they contain. This information is available on screen—a major inconvenience indeed!. A disappointing issue, primarily for production errors.
In 2009 Euroarts issues a DVD devoted to The Planets, which featured a 1977 recording with Eugene Ormandty and the Philadelphia Orchestra, an impressive performance with digitally enhanced "surround sound." (REVIEW). In 2013, a DVD was issued by SIGMUND VISION called "The Planets" - Universe of Sound." with Essa-Pekka Salonen leading the Philharmonia Orchestra. This is a big-scale video production; for details see our REVIEW. Also issued was a 2-disk DVD called The Planets - An HD Odyssey featuring performed by the Houston Symphony conducted by is then conductor, Hans Graf. This included a film by Duncan Copp that included a detailed discussion by scientists and scholars about the planets with many videos (and non-Holst music). It also featured a complete performance illustrated by varied images. Now we have another DVD devoted to The Planets, and this one also uses the Ormandy/Philadelphia 1977 recording, here only in stereo. Ken Russell's work is well-known, and here he offers some remarkable images of the planets, along with carefully edited documentary films and photos appropriate for his concept of each planet. This is a short program (50 min), and would be perfect for public television.
Handel's opera Giulio Cesare was the first production since Cecilia Bartoli became artistic director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival. This was filmed during performances in 2012, and it is spectacular in every way. Moshe Laiser and Patrice Gaurier designed and staged this production, and they did so with taste and humor. The single set is simple, with clever lighting effects.The scenario has been updated but not outrageously so, and often it is very amusing. Costumes are imaginative, to say the least. In one scene there is an alligator on stage, and Cleopatra rides off seated on a cruise missile wearing a Tina Turner wig. And the cast is perfection. All of the singers are masters of their ar. Cecilia Bartoli is amazing as Cleopatra, and both counter ten orts are perfect displaying both agility and beauty of tone. Anne Sophie van Otter might not at this stage of her career be as assured as in years past, but she is a fine Cornelia. And they can act, too! The Il Gardino Armonici is a virtuoso ensemble, with particularly brilliant horns who negotiate their countless treacherous tasks admirably. This is a terrific show, not just for lovers of baroque opera. there is a complete list of tracks and a detailed synopsis of the plot. Don't miss this remarkable video!
R.E.B. (May 2016)
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