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Thread: Project: list of recommended DVD/blu-ray versions for our Top 100 operas

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Default Project: list of recommended DVD/blu-ray versions for our Top 100 operas

    You know what, folks? I think we should do the list of recommended DVDs/blu-rays to go along with our top 100 recommended operas, as per the extensive discussions in the "Most authoritative" thread.

    The best way to do it is to get less ambitious. No need for "most authoritative" or "wide consensus."

    Let's not do polls because they require one thread per opera. This would flood this sub-forum.

    Let's not worry about percentages, consensus, or whether an opera has several versions on video or just one (I mean, let's not worry about it while voting, because as you'll see, I'll report these findings in the final result).

    Let's just consider what we recommend the most for each opera. Some of these will be consensual, some will not. Some will be very diluted, some will not. That's OK. We'll just do what we can.

    To simplify even more the process, I'd say that each person should nominate ONE version for each opera. The nomination is already the vote. If a subsequent user agrees that the previous user's nomination is indeed the best version, just say "I second the nomination of ..... (name of the version)." If you have a different version that in your opinion is better, then, nominate it, instead of endorsing one that has already been nominated.

    So, we go one by one down our top 100 list, and we give ourselves 48 hours for each opera to collect the nominations/votes (since not all members log in every day). At the end of 48 hours, we simply count the nominations and endorsements, and the version with the most votes wins. In case of tie, we do a 24-hour tie-breaker.

    I volunteer to count the votes, report the results, and organize the process/keep track of the 48/24 hrs periods.

    I intend to report the result like this:

    # of the opera in our top 100 list - name of the most voted version (opera house, year, conductor) and how many votes it has gathered - number of nominated versions - approximate number of available versions. This complete result will give to someone consulting the list a notion of how valid or how consensual (or not) the winner was.

    Examples (hypothetical):

    # 7 The Marriage of Papageno - Baghdad Green Zone Opera 2007 - conducted by George W. Bush - 4 votes among 8 voters (50%) who picked among 3 nominees out of 5 existing versions.

    # 8 La Rondine Ladra - North Pole Opera 1998 - conducted by Santa Claus - 2 votes among 10 voters (20% - tied with another version, winner of tie breaker) who picked among 8 nominees out of 9 existing versions.

    # 9 Die Meistersingers von England Got Talent - Pyongyang Opera House 2001 - conducted by Kim Jong-il - 1 vote by 1 voter who nominated the only existing version

    #10 L'Incoronazione di Netrebko - Cool **** Opera House 2010 - conducted by Almaviva - 12 votes among 15 voters (80%) who picked among 4 nominees out of 4 existing versions.

    So you have above opera # 7 with average consensus, # 8 with low consensus, # 9 with very low or nonexistent consensus, and # 10 with high consensus.

    Therefore someone looking to buy these operas on video will be highly confident about the winning version of opera #10, fairly confident about the winner for opera number 7, may want to explore more and screen more carefully the various versions of opera number 8, and will have to be content with the only existing version of opera number 9 in case the person really wants to own a video version of it, although chances are it's pretty weak since only one member nominated it in spite of it having no competition.

    If an opera doesn't have a video version this will be spelled out, and a CD version will be recommended instead.

    If an opera has video versions but they are all bad and nobody wants to nominate any of them, this will be spelled out as well, and a CD version will be recommended instead.

    Fair enough? I think this is an easy way to do it, and the final report will reflect the relative confidence we'll have with the results. An opera like La Bohème with dozens of versions will be lucky to have one single version with more than one voter/endorser, but maybe a couple of versions will have more than one and we'll tie-break them if necessary. If we can't break a tie (say, there's a 10-way tie of 10 different versions, each nominated by a different member), we should designate someone our official ultimate tie-breaker. I'd invite Herkku to assume this role, because I believe he is the member here who has seen the most different versions of most operas.

    An opera like L'Amour de Loin has only one version but it is a pretty good one so it may gather strong endorsement. People will see that it's only one nominee out of one version but it got endorsed by many. An opera like Giulio Cesare has a handful of versions but there is one that I expect will win most if not all endorsements.

    One word about nominations/endorsements: you should only nominate or endorse a version that you consider to be very good and worth buying, and hopefully better than other versions you know. If you know only one version of a given opera but it fulfills these conditions - you find it to be very good and worth buying - then do go ahead and nominate it. However if, say, there is only one version of an opera and you don't like it at all, don't nominate it just because it's the only one available. In that case, we'll spell out that nobody felt comfortable nominating the one version available, and once the 48 hours are over, we'll open nominations of CD versions for that opera. If an opera has several versions but you only know one version of it - and you don't like that version at all, then again, don't nominate it just because it's the one you know.

    I'm insisting on this because to make the process simple, I'm thinking of a nomination *that is also a vote* so that we don't need to do it twice. 2 days for each of 100 operas make already 200 days so the process will only end seven months from now (not counting tie-breakers that may extend it even more). I don't want to make it 400 days. That's why nobody should nominate something just for the sake of getting another version in, if the person doesn't really endorse that version and doesn't think it is worth buying it. Similarly, if your preferred version has been nominated already, don't add another one, just endorse the one you prefer.

    To make it fun, don't hesitate to give reasons for your nominations/endorsements in your post, or to paste pictures of the cover, more info about the version, etc.

    To make it easy on me, do take the trouble of mentioning, together with your nomination, the opera house, the conductor, and the year of the production. But if you don't know these details, as long as you can indicate with no ambiguity what version you're talking about, I'll take it from there and will complete the details for you. And if you happen to know with absolute certainty how many versions exist of a given opera, do let me know (in the absence of someone affirming that he or she knows for sure how many versions are available, I'll try to look up the answer in a pool of commercial sites - amazon.com, etc). These sites may not *list* all available versions or some may be out of print - that's why I said I'll mention the *approximate* number of versions.

    Any concerns or suggestions?

    If not, let's play?

    Our number 1 opera is Der Ring des Nibelungen.

    I nominate the 1991 Bayreuther Festspiele version conducted by Barenboim.



    Other nominations for versions of Der Ring des Nibelungen (or endorsements of this version, or any subsequently nominated version) are open for 48 hours. The day after tomorrow at approximately 9 PM ET, I'll be posting the results of the nominations/endorsements for the Ring.
    Last edited by Almaviva; Jan-25-2011 at 13:08.
    "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

    Our number 1 opera is Der Ring des Nibelungen.

    I nominate the 1991 Bayreuther Festspiele version conducted by Barenboim.

    I second this nomination. I have 4 versions and have also seen the Levine one on Met Player

    The Barenboim is musically very fine, and the conducting is outstanding. The staging is clearly post-Chereau but is clear and makes great use of the "endless stage", the cast is very good and I think it's the most satisfying version overall.

    My personal favourite is the 2008 Copenhagen version but it's too "out there" and heretical to recommend.

    The 1990 Metropolitan Levine version provides a good introduction to people who have never seen the Ring but it is pretty stodgy and I strongly dislike the singing of Behrens and the performance of Jerusalem here (he was great in the Barenboim version).

    The 1976 Chereau/Boulez version was ground-breaking in its day and is still recommendable, but the Industrial revolution theme is a bit wearying and I think the Barenboim cast is better.

    The 2010 Valencia Ring under Zubin Mehta has plenty of visual pyrotechnics but few vocal ones. Lance Ryan is too tense and Jennifer Wilson, while vocally very fine, looks appalling.

    PS, Alma. love your examples
    Last edited by mamascarlatti; Jan-25-2011 at 04:19.
    Natalie

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    Senior Member Air's Avatar
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    I am 100% up for this and will participate when I can. Thanks Alma!
    "Summit or death, either way, I win" ~R. Schumann

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    Senior Member emiellucifuge's Avatar
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    Im with Air, thanks a lot.

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    Senior Member jflatter's Avatar
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    I will be in and I love heresy and Copenhagen

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jflatter View Post
    I will be in and I love heresy and Copenhagen
    I'm glad I'm not the only one. So will you nominate it?
    Natalie

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mamascarlatti View Post
    I'm glad I'm not the only one. So will you nominate it?
    I guess I can fully count that as a nomination, Natalie (for my deep despair - you know how much I hate that version). So the count so far is Barenboim 2 (my nomination and your endorsement), Copenhagen 1 (jflatter's nomination - I guess "I love it" does indicate that the member thinks it's worth having). By the way, I believe there are 7 Ring versions on video, correct me if I'm wrong.

    Oh, and I just thought of this: I think I'll report in the final result for each opera any situation in which there is a tie breaker or a significant runner-up (let's say, one version wins it with 40 percent of the votes but there is another one with 30%) - I will report by name both versions and their number of votes. Therefore in my example # 8 I'd have mentioned the name of the version that got into the tie-breaker.

    Thanks for a very informative post about five of the Ring versions.

    For the eventual critics of the process (there are always those): I know that the validity of this list is low in terms of establishing the "best" version (an elusive and subjective concept anyway), and I know that the fact that a given member has liked a given version is not per se a solid indication that the said version will please other people. But that's why I said "we'll do what we can." The only intention here is to provide to people who consult our Top 100 list, a companion list of "recommended" (not "best") versions. It doesn't mean any more than this. It just means that our membership corps (or a more or less significant sub-set of it) recommends that version, that's all.

    Also, a prospective buyer of versions can consult this thread, not only the list, to learn about details (for instance, the fact that you second Barenboim but actually like Copenhagen even more). I hope at the end Gaston can make of the final list a sticky right below the Top 100 list.

    For those who are saying "count me in" - do make a habit of checking in at least once every 48 hours for the next 200 days so that we gather a significant number of nominations/votes for each opera.

    Annually, we may redo the list (a simpler version of the process - that is, opening a 15-day period for additions/deletions in case of new winning versions coming up to the market) just like Gaston plans to redo the top 100 voting once a year.
    Last edited by Almaviva; Jan-25-2011 at 13:41.
    "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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    I'm in - when I can contribute.
    Ann

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post
    Oh, and I just thought of this: I think I'll report in the final result for each opera any situation in which there is a tie breaker or a significant runner-up (let's say, one version wins it with 40 percent of the votes but there is another one with 30%) - I will report by name both versions and their number of votes. Therefore in my example # 8 I'd have mentioned the name of the version that got into the tie-breaker.
    I was thinking this might be necessary as there is likely to be a split between fans of "updated" versions and traditionalists - eg perhaps between the Levine Ring and any of the others. This might need to be reflected in the reporting.
    Natalie

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    About existing versions: I'll be able to provide the exact number after all, by consulting databases such as operadis and ODB-Opera.

    It's complicated for the Ring since it is listed individually for each component and some of the components have independent versions that are not part of a full cycle (and we do know there are 7 complete cycles out there) so I'll not bother with providing this info for the Ring, but starting with number 2, when I start the new vote I'll include the list of available versions for each opera.

    Every time I start a new nomination/endorsement 48-hour period for an opera, I will repeat in bold these paragraphs below, so that newcommers keep the same focus/parameters:

    GROUND RULES FOR THIS THREAD

    This thread intends to be a helpful reference for people who may want to buy or see video versions of our Top 100 Recommended operas or are interested in expanding or starting their video opera collection. It doesn't intend to establish a list of "best" versions but merely indicates that some or many of our members *recommend* that version. The organizer - Almaviva - will be starting each opera's nomination process, end it, count votes, report results, call up tie breakers, etc.

    Each person willing to participate of the process should nominate ONE version for each opera (as we go down the list), and will have a 48-hour window to do so. The nomination is already the vote. If a subsequent user agrees that a previously nominated DVD/blu-ray is indeed the best version, just say "I second the nomination of ..... (name of the version)." If you have a different version in mind that in your opinion is better, then, by all means nominate it, instead of endorsing one that has already been nominated.

    But you should only nominate or endorse a version that you consider to be very good and worth buying, and hopefully better than other versions you know (MORE ON THIS AT THE END OF THESE RULES). If you know only one video version of a given opera but it fulfills these conditions - you find it to be very good and worth buying - then do go ahead and nominate it. However if, say, there is only one video version of an opera in the market and you don't like it at all (meaning, the merits or demerits of the video itself such as staging, directing, acting, singing, image definition, sound definition - not the opera itself; the quality of these operas has already been established in our Top 100 thread), don't nominate it just because it's the only one available. In that case, we'll spell out that nobody felt comfortable nominating the one version available, and once the 48 hours are over, we'll open nominations of CD versions for that opera. If an opera has several versions but you only know one version of it - and you don't like that version at all, then again, don't nominate it just because it's the one you know.

    We are insisting on this because to make the process simple, we are talking about a nomination *that is also a vote* so that we don't need to do it twice. Two days for each of 100 operas make already 200 days so the process will only end seven months from its start (not counting tie-breakers or CD nominations that may extend it even more). We don't want to make it 400 days. That's why nobody should nominate something just for the sake of getting another version in, unless the person really endorses that version above previously nominated ones and thinks it is worth buying.

    To make it fun, don't hesitate to give reasons for your nominations/endorsements in your posts, and/or to paste pictures of the cover, give more info about the version such as talking about the singers, the conductor, the video quality, etc.

    You can talk about several versions of the same opera if you know several of them, but make sure you nominate or endorse just one version, and please make clear in your post that you are actually nominating or endorsing something, not merely commenting upon it, because a non-endorsement is also an important piece of information that will allow us to move on to a CD version if our membership corps doesn't recommend any of the existing video versions for a given opera.

    What should be the threshold for nominating something, versus letting it out and leaving it to the CD phase if necessary? It's a simple, common sense litmus test: would you buy this version (or buy it again if you have it already but lost it)? But in addition to this, do you think it is good enough that you would attach your name and your reputation to it by recommending it to a good friend? You may think you'd have to buy it if there was no better competition and you were adamant about owning a video version of an opera you like in spite of finding the DVD/blu-ray very weak, but would you actually also recommend it? If you can say yes to both these questions then it's worse nominating it or endorsing it. If one or both of the answers is no, then leave it out. Remember that you only have ONE shot at nominating or endorsing a version, even if you think that several versions are worth buying and recommendable. Do make up your mind and pick one! But you can still talk about other versions if you want.

    In case of a tie, there will be a 24-hour tie-breaker. If the tie persists, Almaviva the organizer will ask a knowledgeable member to cast a decisive vote.

    Thanks for your participation, and have fun!
    Last edited by Almaviva; Jan-25-2011 at 22:36.
    "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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    There are lots on the list I haven't got & don't know. Can I miss rounds?

    Sorry I can't find this instruction.
    Last edited by sospiro; Jan-25-2011 at 20:27.
    Ann

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sospiro View Post
    There are lots on the list I haven't got & don't know. Can I miss rounds?

    Sorry I can't find this instruction.
    You sure can. That's why in my examples I have quoted hypothetical operas with 15 voters and others with fewer voters (down to one in one case). Some more popular operas with multiple versions may draw many voters while more obscure ones may not have been seen by too many so people won't feel qualified to vote.

    Of course I forgot to mention that anybody missing rounds must send me a box of chocolate, preferably dark, with at least 70% of cocoa content.
    "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 emiellucifuge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Almaviva View Post

    Of course I forgot to mention that anybody missing rounds must send me a box of chocolate, preferably dark, with at least 70% of cocoa content.
    Thats gonna cost me a lot

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    Interesting thread idea. Have we started yet?

    If so, I of course nominate and vote for the Met/Levine/Schenk Ring (a no-brainer for the traditionalist).

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    Senior Member Almaviva's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gualtier Malde View Post
    Interesting thread idea. Have we started yet?

    If so, I of course nominate and vote for the Met/Levine/Schenk Ring (a no-brainer for the traditionalist).
    Yes, we have started. Your vote is the fourth one for our first opera, the Ring.
    So far we have Bayreuth/Barenboim with 2 votes, Copenhagen with 1, and Met/Levine with 1.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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