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Thread: My request for producers of opera audio recordings. Your thoughts?

  1. #1
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    Default My request for producers of opera audio recordings. Your thoughts?

    Is there anyone in the TC community who is involved in the production of recordings of opera that can address whether or not the following request is feasible?

    I’d like for Blu-ray technology to be employed to make the enjoyment of audio-only recordings of opera easier, by providing an English (and other language) translation via subtitles (aka surtitles, supertitles, electronic libretto) displayed on the HDTV screen. It would be nice if the video would feature a series of still images of artwork that serve as “story boards” for the opera, with images designed to minimize burn-in of the TV screen. (Though I’d settle for any pleasant background image that doesn’t burn-in the TV screen. Historic B&W photos are another idea.)

    Is this really that difficult/expensive of a task for record producers? Language translations already exist for every recorded opera, and undoubtedly in an electronic format. Supertitle/subtitle technology isn’t “bleeding edge”. It seems to me that artists could be commissioned for a reasonable fee to paint story boards that would provide a visual background for the subtitles.

    What has brought subtitles to mind is the release of the Maria Callas re-mastered studio recordings, and the Solti re-mastered Ring. When listening to opera, I’m disinclined to turn on a bright light, put on reading glasses, and attempt to phonetically follow a language that I don’t understand in a printed libretto in order to read the English translation. It seems to me that technology should make my life easier – in this case by putting the English translation on the HDTV screen.

    And, of course, I’d like for the Blu-ray disk to deliver the best possible sound quality -ideally 192 kHz/24 bit or 96 kHz/24 bit.

    In summary - maybe I’m lazy – and clearly my foreign language skills are deficient. I’d like to be able to load a Blu-ray disk of an opera recording that began life as audio-only, turn off the lights, relax, and enjoy great sound quality and on-screen libretto. That’s a Callas (and Solti Ring) re-mastered Blu-ray box set that I’d be interested in buying.

    Your thoughts?

    P.S. I’ll bet there’s a talented TC’er who could build a proof-of-concept prototype on Youtube involving an excerpt of a Callas recording …
    Last edited by RobertKC; Aug-01-2014 at 01:04.

  2. #2
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    Default Initial impressions of Solti Ring on Blu-ray

    Amazon offered a significantly discounted price for a Decca “Super Deluxe” Solti Ring box set that they described as being in “very good” condition, so I bought it. It arrived today, and I am pleased that the box set is in excellent condition.

    The boxed set includes 4 hardbound books that are beautifully done:

    “Der Ring Des Nibelungen, The Music” (the disks)
    “Der Ring Des Nibelungen, The Libretti”
    “Der Ring Des Nibelungen, The Guides”
    “Ring Resounding, John Culshaw”.

    I intended for the topic of this thread to be about how the libretti are presented. But first I’ll digress. After having my hands on these recordings for a few hours and having listened to parts of Das Rheingold and Die Walkure, I offer the following preliminary observations about the sound quality of the Blu-ray audio disk:

    1. Initially I listened via my Oppo BDP-105, via analog stereo outputs to my vintage McIntosh MC240 tube power amp, and Klipsch Palladium P-37F speakers. I chose the MC240 because it has no tone controls (or any switches or controls of any kind), so it arguably has the most “neutral” sound quality of any of my amps in this system. The sound quality of the Blu-ray disk is very good - certainly good enough to not interfere with enjoying the music.
    2. I then listened for about 20 minutes in a different system via my Oppo BDP-95, analog stereo balanced cables to my modern McIntosh MC275 Mk V tube power amp, and Snell Type CV speakers. Again very good.
    3. Then, just for fun I tried the Oppo BDP-95 and Snells with my Scott 296 vintage integrated tube amp – and “magic occurred” - I forgot I was listening to the recording and was lost in the music. Wotan’s farewell to Brunnhilde in Die Walkure is gorgeous.

    My experience is that certain amps (and speakers) complement certain recordings better than others. This winter, when the heat from my tube amps is welcome, I’ll listen to the entire Ring cycle and experiment to find which of my hi-fi equipment best suits these recordings. I may comment later in more detail about the sound quality. (BTW, I also listened briefly to one of the CDs, and it also sounded good.)

    Now, back on-topic, following are my initial impressions about the Blu-ray disk, and how the libretti are presented:

    1. The entire Ring cycle is on one Blu-ray disk, which is more convenient than the multiple CDs that are included.
    2. On the Blu-ray disk it’s easy to navigate the tracks within each opera, and navigate between operas, except that
    3. The track numbers in the libretti are based on the CD tracks, and the track numbers start over with each CD. Unless I’m missing something during my first experience, it’s difficult to correlate the Blu-ray track numbers with the libretti.
    4. And finally, the real topic of this thread: I wish that the libretti were presented on the TV screen, vs. having to follow along in the printed book. As I stated earlier, I’d prefer to enjoy these operas without bright lights, strong reading glasses, and the effort required to follow in a printed libretto. Although the books are large (approx 12” x 12”), the type is very small.

    Perhaps some day there will be an “Extra-Super Deluxe” box set that includes the words on the TV screen. I recognize this is unlikely, so I’m glad this boxed set was produced, and I’m very pleased to own it.

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    I recently got this set as well, and while I have not listened to very much of it, what I heard was very good indeed. And I also have the Oppo 105. How do you find the 95 compared to the 105?

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    Default Oppo BDP-105 vs. BDP-95

    Quote Originally Posted by Bogdan View Post
    How do you find the 95 compared to the 105?
    I’m pleased with both the Oppo BDP-95 and BDP-105. They are both “audiophile grade” players – the 105 is just the newer version. I use them in different systems, so I can’t comment on any difference in sound quality. (I think they both deliver great sound.) The 105 has a few differences. Off the top of my head, here’s the ones that affect the way I use the players:

    1. The 105 can play FLAC files “gapless”. The 95 cannot.
    2. The 105 does not have a fan. The 95’s fan can barely be heard in a very quiet room.
    3. The 105 has a huge button on the remote control for Netflix, which I hate. I often accidently push the button when I intended to push “Pure Audio” (i.e., video mute) or the volume control. This takes me out of the movie, and the player does not remember where it left – i.e., you have to start over watching a movie – go through all of the credits at the beginning of the movie, and then try to find where you left the movie. The button cannot be disabled.
    4. I use the 105 as a DA converter for the TOS-link audio feed from my TV. I don’t think the 95 can do this. (I don’t have the need for this feature in the system where my 95 is installed.)

    There are other differences that don’t affect me, like the 105’s headphone jack. iPad control app, 4k upscaling, etc.

    My only disappointment (other than the PITA Netflix button on the 105's remote) is that neither will play internet radio (e.g., - though they will play Pandora.

    I could employ another universal player to replace an older Oppo DV-980H that I currently use with my basement system, so I’ll be interested to see what Oppo does with their next “audiophile” product.

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