ELGAR: The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38
DONIZETTI: Roberto Deveraux
TCHAIJKOVSKY: The Sleeping Beauty
Elgar's choral masterpiece The Dream of Gerontius is based on a poem by John Henry Newmn, the story of a soul's journey through death, and and purgatory. his work was a favorite of Sir Adrian Boult who made a recording many years ago, reviewed on this site (REVIEW).Now we have this splendid DVD of the conductor's second recording which was made March 28, 1968 for the BBC. This is a reverential performance with top soloists. Excellent video and audio The video often focuses on details of the beautiful stained glass windows of the venue, Canterbury Cathedral. The second disk offers a fascinating one-hour portrait of Sir Adrian Boult, a major British conductor of the era.
There are countless recordings of Tchaikovsky's classic Sleeping Beauty Ballet including about 2 dozen videos by leading ballet companies: the Bolshoi, Kirov, and Royal Ballet, and and several feature leading dancers of the past: Margot Fonteyne and Rudolf Nureyev. Here is a new version of Sleeping Beauty with choreography and direction by Nacho Duratowho, a modernized version, but not too modern. Some interesting touches, with vampires (that Tchaikovsky never dreamed of!). The dancers are first-rate in this colorful production by the Berlin Staatsballet filmed September 2015 in Berlin;s Opera House. This a fascinating version of Sleeping Beauty. Video is excellent; audio has rather limited dynamic range.
Donizetti'sRoberto Devereaux, composed just before Lucias di Lammermoor, is perhaps his most demanding role for coloratura sopranos. It is a constant stream of demanding scenes and arias, the ultimate showcase for a soprano. Beverly Sills specialized in it and sang it many times with the New York City Opera and later recorded it with Sir Charles Mackerras. Montserrat Caballé sang it, but no recording exists, unfortunately, and it is surprising that Joan Sutherland didn't sing it. Mariella Devia for some years has been a leading soprano in some Donizetti roles. There are videos of her Lucia, Maria Stuardo, and the seldom-heard Marin Faliero. She is in fine form as Queen Elisabeth in this performance filmed October 2015 at Teatro de Madrid with Bruno Campanella conducting. . Silvia Tro Santafé is outstanding as the Duchess. Male casting is not as successful; Donizetti's florid writing for the doomed Devereaux is sung cautiously by Gregory Kunde. This DVD gives us the opportunity to view one of the composer's most challenging works in a generally fine performance. Video is excellent, as is the audio. A detailed synopsis is provided in three languages.
R.E.B. (December 2016)