This performance of Norma is staged by Italian director Roberto Andó, and is performed on period instruments. Norma for many sopranos is the supreme challenge. The great Ross Ponselle was reluctant to add it to her repertory, but when she did, she brought new grandeur to the soaring bel canto lines. Maria Callas was famous for her interpretation, flawed though it was vocally and many sopranos have attempted it with varying success. American soprano June Anderson has had a long and distinguished career in bel canto roles including works of Donizetti, Verdi and Bellini, but in 2001 she was considerably past her prime, and it shows. Arthaus Musik calls this a "legendary performance." I surely would not. If you want to experience Bellini's great opera on video, try the magnificent 1973 Orange Festival performance with Montserrat Caballé (REVIEW)
Czech legendary choreographer Jiri Kylian is the subject of a new film by Don Kent and Christian Dumas-Lvowski. It is an informal film Kylian wanted to make to pass along to the world of ballet his concept of the art. He does so in a most engaging way, and there are many interludes of him working with dancers including his wife Sabine Kupferberg. This site priased his stunning realization of Stravinsky's L'histoire du soldat recently (REVIEW). In that performance the leading role was danced by Nacho Duato, who choreographed the ballet Jardi Tancat just mentioned on this site (REVIEW). Also featured is the complete ballet Wings of Wax, set to music of Biber, Cage, Glass, and Bach. Premiered in 1997, the set is simple, a white stage with a black background from which is suspended a skeletal upside-down tree, with a revolving mirrored "planet" slowly moving across the stage while the eight dancers display remarkable fluidity of movement. I wish producers had not had the credits superimposed over the final scene. This DVD is a major release for those who love the ballet.
This Kirov ballet company was founded in the 1740s. In 1934 it was named the Kirov Ballet, and today is called the Mariinsky Ballet. This world-famous group has given countless major premieres and always featured the finest of Russian dancers, some legendary. This 2-DVD set of staged videos has been issued b before, but now it is on Blu Ray. The performances are spectacular throughout, but the video isn;t particularly detailed. It is good enough, but hardly state-of-the-art, and the Blu Ray processing doesn't improve it. But there are treasures here, particularly a dazzling Petrushka. Audio is adequate stereo, but it seems odd the set includes a CD of just the music (and not all of it).
R.E.B. (May 2016)