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Thread: Handel on DVD and Blu-ray

  1. #76
    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    She was simply incredible. I've always liked her but had her in a sort of team B, and she's been definitely promoted to my team A after this. I think I have badly underestimated her by thinking of her just as a pleasant, good looking mezzo, not very articulate and not very smart in interviews. After seeing this, now I think of her as a very accomplished singer/actress who understands the material and is in full command of a versatile array of acting and singing resources, able to fully take her seat as one of the best artists in (at the very least, the recent) opera history. This is a performance for the ages and one of the main reasons to make of this DVD such an indispensable item for a serious collector.
    Cripes, have you not read her blog? She proves herself clearly articulate in that, and obviously thinks very carefully about her roles. She's always been in my A-list, but then I infinitely prefer mezzos to sopranos so pay more attention to them.

    Can you remind me of what it was, by PM? I think you've left me speechless a few times, Nat, and I don't know which specific one you're talking about
    Something rude about men and multi-tasking.
    Natalie

  2. #77
    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post
    Cripes, have you not read her blog? She proves herself clearly articulate in that, and obviously thinks very carefully about her roles. She's always been in my A-list, but then I infinitely prefer mezzos to sopranos so pay more attention to them.
    I read an interview with her in a book and she was very silly there, miles behind smart Renée Fleming.
    But maybe I was wrong, like I said, I seem to have underestimated her.
    Something rude about men and multi-tasking.
    I still don't remember exactly.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post
    That said I'd rather hear a really good mezzo in the role than a hooty counter-tenor. But drama-wise it's more convincing with a male in the male part.
    A well trained countertenor with the proper overtones in his voice shouldn't sound hooty. The hooty ones tend to be either not particularly well trained and/or never had quite the right type of voice for operatic work in the first place. A countertenor, singing in the throat and attacking the voice with hard onset, will cause the hootiness you refer to.

    Apologies for jumping in here, just thought I would make this point.

  4. #79
    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlbaCountertenor View Post
    A well trained countertenor with the proper overtones in his voice shouldn't sound hooty. The hooty ones tend to be either not particularly well trained and/or never had quite the right type of voice for operatic work in the first place. A countertenor, singing in the throat and attacking the voice with hard onset, will cause the hootiness you refer to.

    Apologies for jumping in here, just thought I would make this point.
    Welcome to the forum, AlbaCountertenor. Are you a singer? You seem to know a lot about vocal technique, and will be an asset to our forum, I can tell. And no, I don't think you were jumping in, what you said was interesting and I'm sure Natalie appreciates it.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Senior Member sospiro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    Welcome to the forum, AlbaCountertenor. Are you a singer? You seem to know a lot about vocal technique, and will be an asset to our forum, I can tell. And no, I don't think you were jumping in, what you said was interesting and I'm sure Natalie appreciates it.
    Michael said he was training to be a countertenor in his intro.
    Ann

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlbaCountertenor View Post
    A well trained countertenor with the proper overtones in his voice shouldn't sound hooty. The hooty ones tend to be either not particularly well trained and/or never had quite the right type of voice for operatic work in the first place. A countertenor, singing in the throat and attacking the voice with hard onset, will cause the hootiness you refer to.

    Apologies for jumping in here, just thought I would make this point.
    Hi Alba

    I agree, but they still appear on DVDs. I have a shocking Admeto with an extremely hooty guy in the main role.

    That said, I am devoted to countertenors - Andreas Scholl, Bejun Mehta, Philippe Jaroussky, David Daniels, Christophe Dumaux, Tim Mead, Michael Maniaci (I know, not strictly a counter tenor) and so on.

    Anyway, it'll be great to have you on the forum!
    Natalie

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    Senior Member Il_Penseroso's Avatar
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    Agrippina is the only complete Handel-Opera that I've had chance to see on DVD. It was a modern adaption of this historical opera conducted by Jean claude Malgoire and presented by Dynamic Srl, which was not attractive for me at all but the music itself is superb and full of beautiful arias.



    here is also the version in Amazon in a 3 CD box set.
    Last edited by Il_Penseroso; Apr-27-2011 at 13:14.

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  9. #83
    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Default Handel: Tamerlano on DVD



    Alternative cover:



    This is from the Halle Handel Festival of 2001, filmed live in the small baroque Halle Theater, with period staging and minimalistic setting. Trevor Pinnack conducts the period orchestra The English Concert.

    Cast:

    Tamerlano: MONICA BACELLI
    Bajazet: THOMAS RANDLE
    Andronico: GRAHAM PUSHEE
    Irene: ANNA BONITATIBUS
    Asteria: ELISABETH NORBERG-SCHULZ
    Leone: ANTONIO ABETE

    Technically this is a very high quality DVD, one of the best I've seen, including some outstanding special features such as the ability to project the score on the screen, simultaneously with the image (a good feature for music students). The 16/9 hi-def image is sharp and clear with good lighting and good camera work. The sound comes in LPCM stereo and Dolby 5.1 and has perfect clarity, fullness, and balance. Subtitles and menus are in several languages. Bonus features include a making-of, and a documentary about the Halle festival with snipets of several Handel operas. This is how it's done, folks. It is a flawless product.

    The opera itself is outstanding, one of Handel's best. Oh well, every opera of Handel's I watch or listen to, I think it's one of his best. The man just didn't know how to compose anything less than excellent. What a composer! Regardless, this one is indeed sublime, particularly beautiful.

    Costumes are great. While the scenario for the entire opera is just a throne and some golden pannels, the costumes make up for the simplicity of the scenario. They are luxurious, colorful, and very appropriate (it is refreshing to see a Handel opera staged like the composer and librettist intended, with no Regie trickery). Staging is a bit static.

    Musically, this production is a bit more uneven. The sounds of the period orchestra are very beautiful but while for me it is hard to say because this is my first contact with this opera, I felt a certain lack of energy and languid tempi. Oh well, we can't get William Christie every time.

    And then, Monica Bacelli in the title role is not entirely convincing, she lacks ferocity and intensity, and while she sings correctly, it's nothing special.

    Elisabeth Norberg-Schulz on the other hand is fabulous. Her voice is very pleasant, her acting is good, and she looks attractive.

    Thomas Randle as Bajazet is equally impressive. These two account for the best singing in this production, and they do carry it on their shoulders and make it musically good enough.

    Graham Pushee as Andronico also disappoints.

    I mean, nobody really sinks the ship, it's just that Pushee and Bacelli are sort of pale, while Randle and Norberg-Schulz are much better, which makes for a detrimental contrast for the other two.

    Anna Bonitatibus as Irene is sort of in the middle of these two extremes. Her singing is very good without being as thrilling as Randle's and Norberg-Schulz's, and she acts a lot more energetically than Pushee and Bacelli.

    So here is the bottom line: we are faced with a high quality DVD product (technically speaking), containing a production with good staging and excellent costumes, and with musical aspects that even out in terms of minuses and pluses - while the orchestra sounds good, the conducting could have been better, and while of the five main characters 2 singers are outstanding, 2 are so-so and 1 is in the middle. So while the musical side earns a score of about 80 out of 100 (oscilating between 70 and 90), the non-musical aspects do add some 10 more points, getting to a total of 90 or A minus, therefore, one can say that this DVD is highly recommended.

    I wonder how it compares with the other Tamerlano in video, the one with Plácido Domingo which does have the advantage of being also offered as blu-ray.
    Last edited by Almaviva; May-05-2011 at 06:09.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  10. #84
    Senior Member HarpsichordConcerto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    This is from the Halle Handel Festival of 2001, filmed live in the small baroque Halle Theater, with period staging and minimalistic setting. Trevor Pinnack conducts the period orchestra The English Concert.

    Cast:

    Tamerlano: MONICA BACELLI
    Bajazet: THOMAS RANDLE
    Andronico: GRAHAM PUSHEE
    Irene: ANNA BONITATIBUS
    Asteria: ELISABETH NORBERG-SCHULZ
    Leone: ANTONIO ABETE
    I also have this production. The English Concert/Trevor Pinnock (on period instruments) is widely acknowledged as one of the best Handelian conductors around, judging by their mainly Handel orchestral works released on CD by Deutsche Grammophon. However, this Tamerlano didn't seem to live up to their very high standards many are accustomed to, considering their "benchmark" releases on CD of The Messiah and Belshazzar.

    I also agree that Graham Pushee (Australian countertenor) wasn't really up to it. He's not the finest around. I saw him performed live once here taking Cesare in Giulio Cesare in Egitto. His voice was OK but lacked something that would push it up another echelon.

    This is the only period instrument version of Tamerlano, which while is good overall, there are stronger versions on CD.

    Personally, I tend to avoid modern instrument versions, that's just my preference when it comes to Barqoue music, but as the alternative DVD/blu-ray version is directed by another esteemed HIP conductor, Paul McGreesh with Placido Domingo, but with a modern band that I suspect will sound HIP, I think I will give it a go at some stage.

  11. #85
    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Default Handel: Admeto on DVD



    My dear friend Natalie loves this, so, I approached it with high expectations.

    2009(LC) - Nicholas McGegan - FestspielOrchester Göttingen

    Admeto - Tim Mead
    Alceste - Marie Arnet
    Ercole - William Berger
    Orlindo - Andrew Radley
    Trasimede - David Bates
    Antigona - Kirsten Blaise
    Meraspe - Wold Matthias Friedrich

    Mamu Dance Theater - Solo dance and choreography - Tadashi Endo

    Staged by Doris Dörrie

    Technical quality of this product: impecable. Perfect Hi-Def image (a blu-ray is also available) with vivid colors in 16:9 format; PCM stereo and DTS 5.1 sound with excellent balance; sutbtitles in Italian, English, German, and French, bonus feature with a 21-minute film on Baroque and Butoh dancing; insert with short essay and synopsis in English, German, and French.

    Staging: Very interesting. The director is Doris Dörries of Cherry Blossoms fame. She has staged this Händel opera with a Greek mythology subject matter in a Japanese Samurai culture setting. The images are stunning, although some parts have humor that I find to be misguided and distracting (such as the scenes with the sheep), and some satirical costumes fall flat in my opinion (such as Ercole's ridiculous Sumo wrestler padding).

    And then, I have some strong feelings about the use of boobs in this staging.

    I haven't read all the credits attentively, so it is possible that at some point there was a phrase saying "no boobs were harmed during the making of this production." Fine, but then, you have to consider psychological damage as well.

    Boobs are very delicate things. They are the most beautiful creatures on Earth, and they deserve worship, adoration, gentle squeezes and licks, and they must be displayed in all their glory.

    Instead, Ms. Doris Dörries has allowed lovely naked boobs to be displayed by grotesque characters like the ghosts and spirits in the opening scene (people with crossed eyes and evil looks), and even worse, displayed by sheep!

    I know, I know, isn't it despicable? I mean, lovely boobs being displayed by women disguised as dumb sheep??? Get out of here, Ms. Dörries, have a sense of eroticism, please!

    Boobs are deservedly narcissistic creatures. I'm sure that these otherwise finely shaped boobs were deeply hurt by being forced to appear in such disgusting ways. Yeah, right, your lawyers must have inserted the phrase about no boobs being damaged; I'm sure they weren't physically hurt, but no self-respecting boob will fail to feel psychologically devastated by the way she was treated in this production!

    Rest assured, Ms. Dörries, that I'll be talking to my lawyers, and to the AAABB (the American Association for the Advancement of Beautiful Boobs). You'll get a knock on our door one of these days, you boob hater!!

    Conducting, orchestra - period instruments, competent conducting, very appropriate (no fireworks, though).

    Singing: homogeneously good, but again, no big thrills. The male alto in the title role does a good job. Everybody sings beautifully.

    The opera itself: lovely, of course. It is Händel. Has Händel ever composed anything that is not sublime?

    And here is where this production doesn't earn my praise as much as it did for Natalie: doing it the Japanese way doesn't make it memorable per se.

    The problem with staging Händel operas is that they are *all* very good. One after the other, you have this gorgeous vocal music, this thrilling orchestration, these finely nuanced characters, this good dramatic/theatrical impact.

    But the problem with them being all so good is that then, each single one seems to be more of the same. When I try to rank the dozen operas by Händel that I know, I tend to be a bit confused; they are all so similarly enjoyable!

    This is why, in my opinion, there are so many rather extreme stagings of Händel's operas. I believe that stage directors feel that they have to rescue the piece and make it somehow unique, as opposed to the consistently good, always sublime, always reliably beautiful operas that Händel used to churn out, one after the other.

    Case in point, the spectacular, dynamic, thrilling, vivacious, lively staging of Giulio Cesare at Glyndebourne.

    Has Ms. Dörrie achieved the same effect here? I don't think so. Transposing the opera into Samurai culture is not enough, as strikingly beautiful as the images are. You need more intensity, more dramatic power, and this staging for me is more visually stunning than substantial.

    And then, there is the misuse of them lovely boobs, dammit!!!

    I give to this production a score of about 85, or B. Recommended. But not highly recommended (which I reserve for those that I score at 90 or more, or in other words, A- or more).
    Last edited by Almaviva; May-07-2011 at 04:11.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  12. #86
    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    He he I didn't even NOTICE that there were any boobs, let alone calling the the RSPCB.

    When I saw this I was was still reeling from my previous exposure to Admeto which featured possibly the Hootiest Countertenor Voice Ever in the title role, and had a distinctly silly staging. Tim Mead and Japanese Noh theatre were a breath of fresh air after that.
    Natalie

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post
    He he I didn't even NOTICE that there were any boobs, let alone calling the the RSPCB.

    When I saw this I was was still reeling from my previous exposure to Admeto which featured possibly the Hootiest Countertenor Voice Ever in the title role, and had a distinctly silly staging. Tim Mead and Japanese Noh theatre were a breath of fresh air after that.
    RSPCB? Royal Service for Protection of .......(?) Boobs?
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    RSPCB? Royal Service for Protection of .......(?) Boobs?
    Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Boobs. I thought you were a founder member.
    Natalie

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  16. #89
    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post
    Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Boobs. I thought you were a founder member.
    Sure, sure, it's one of the 37 boob protecting societies I'm a member of; they are so many, sometimes I get confused, sorry.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Default Handel: Theodora on DVD



    1996 - William Christie - Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment - Glyndebourne Chorus

    Stellar cast of exquisite singers - Dawn Upshaw, Lorraine Hunt, David Daniels, Richard Croft, and Frode Olsen as principals, and chorus also very good.

    I'm a little puzzled - if I understood correctly, some of our members object to this production (probably mainly due to the updated staging).

    I find it absolutely spectacular. First of all, this an oratorio, not an opera. So, the staging shouldn't be considered subversive in any way, because it is there just adding visual elements, and they are strikingly beautiful. It's not like Sellars was tampering with Handel's stage instructions. I don't know if you all consider this to be a valid point, but for me it is. I think in a way that it is more acceptable to add some striking imagery to an oratorio than to frontally contradict the author's staging instructions for an opera. In this case there are no staging instructions, so, I feel that letting the imagination soar up to the sky is less upsetting; at least, to me. I'm fully aware of the internal contradiction in what I'm saying, since Handel never intended this to be staged in the first place, so some will say that it is even worse tampering... but strangely enough, the above is the way I feel.

    Second, I've rarely seen such a spectacular MUSICAL performance on DVD. You all know that I prefer opera (well, generally speaking, because it's an oratorio here, but done in a very operatic way) with the visual/theatrical aspects, but I'm fully aware that my choice prevents me from spending as much money on the top recordings with the best singing artists (I spend enough on DVD's and blu-rays, I can't afford both my collection of opera on visual media - by now, somewhat extensive - AND an equally extensive collection of CD box-sets).

    So, when I see a DVD that has exquisite singing, it's the best of two worlds, and I surely won't fault this production for what some will say it's objectionable staging.

    You get a formidable conductor, a spectacular historically informed period orchestra, top singers in all roles and what you get is lots, lots, lots of pleasure.

    I feel that I don't even need to write up a detailed review of this product. It would just be a boring gushing endless string of praise. I'll just say, A+, highly recommended!!!
    Last edited by Almaviva; May-07-2011 at 18:28.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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