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Massenet: Don Quichotte [DVD] [2013] [NTSC]

José Van Dam , Silvia Tro Santafé , Laurent Pelly    Universal, suitable for all   DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: £17.19 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Massenet: Don Quichotte [DVD] [2013] [NTSC] + Massenet Cendrillon [DVD] [2012] [NTSC]
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Product details

  • Actors: José Van Dam, Silvia Tro Santafé, Werner Van Mechelen, Julie Mossay, Marc Minkowski
  • Directors: Laurent Pelly
  • Writers: Jules Massenet, Henri Cain
  • Producers: La Monnaie
  • Format: Colour, Dolby, Digital Sound, NTSC
  • Language: French
  • Subtitles: French, English, Dutch
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Naive
  • DVD Release Date: 1 May 2012
  • Run Time: 172 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005IIA996
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 64,254 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

This production of one of the late masterpieces of Massenet, 'Don Quichotte', in May 2010 from La Monnaie, was the last great role performed by the feted Belgian baritone, José van Dam. This very special context generates a real intensity, enhanced by the stage direction of Laurent Pelly and the expertise of Marc Minkowski in French opera repertoire, following numerous productions by Massenet, Debussy, Meyerbeer, Offenbach, Auber, Boieldieu, Gounod… > The DVD includes a touching documentary on this production.

Product Description

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Customer Reviews

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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
With piles of papers and documents piled up on the stage, Laurent Pelly's production design for this 2010 performance of Massenet's Don Quichotte at La Monnaie-De Munt in Brussels looks like something from an art installation, but it serves the opera well and in the process provides a suitable platform for José van Dam's final bow from the opera stage. Taking a dream-like overview of the subject, Act I shows what looks like a the Don's drawing room, where the aging knight is resting sitting in an armchair, a man past his prime, dreaming of better times, of his love for the beautiful Dulcinea that once inspired him to write verses of praise in her name - all of which are piled up in a small mountain below her balcony - and the idealism that drove him to what he believes to be chivalrous and intrepid acts of valour.

The dream world of the knight's idealism in the subsequent four acts is similarly filled with sierras and landscapes made of hundreds of thousands of sheets of paper, reflecting the recreation of Don Quichotte's exploits on paper and the lack of substantiality that these dreams are based on, the valiant knight forgetting that he is now just a foolish old man whose youth has faded. After a 50 year career, José van Dam's voice may also lost some of its youthful vigour and strength, but the passion and sincerity is still there, and in that respect it's a perfect fit for the role of Don Quixote that makes his performance of the role all the more poignant.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
Watching the great Jose van Dam as Don Quichotte in this production is a moving experience. He brings dignity and realism to the poor, disillusioned but always positive figure, and any flaws in the well-worn voice simply reaffirm the ailing health and advanced age of the Don. Silvia Tro Santafe with her throaty mezzo, never free of the most sensual vibrato, makes an excellent Dulcinee, though she is expected to perform various quasi-acrobatic antics which she very apparently finds awkward. Her voice is an acquired taste: I love it, but there will some who do not. Werner van Mechelen sings beautifully too. His Act IV 'Riez, allez' is superb - it really makes you sad! Marc Minkowksi and the La Monnaie Orchestra and Chorus play and sing beautifully. The principal cellist ought, at the very least, to be beatified for the glorious tone she brings to her prolonged cello solo. The production is quite lovely, easily understood and simply but beautifully realized. In short, this is a "Don Quichotte" to cherish. The stereo sound is more than adequate, though by no means sumptuous.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By I. Giles HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This opera may be unfamiliar to many but fortunately this disc contains a particularly illuminating 52 minute documentary which clarifies much about the entire production. My advice to all future purchasers therefore would be to watch the documentary first then watch the opera next.

In view of the importance and the excellence of the documentary I shall start this review by very briefly detailing its contents. The documentary provides an in-depth coverage of the several months of preparations preceding the performance. José van Dam features in this as an important linking commentator and introduces the auditions and the various stages of soloist, chorus and orchestral rehearsals. The stages of stage design and construction are illustrated as well as costumes and make-up. Acting is rehearsed as well as showing how sword fighting is choreographed to fit the music precisely. The whole concept of the production is explained in detail by the producer and this is interspersed with constructional footage as the sets, costumes and lighting are created and adjusted to fit the concept. All this backstage activity is skilfully cut into extracts from the final stage performance so we can really see how it all goes together, and most importantly, understand why. One is left with an overwhelming respect for such a combination of talents, dedication and sheer sustained hard work.

This production celebrates two important anniversaries - the 100th anniversary of the opera plus the 50th and final anniversary of José van Dam's performing career. Although this marks his last production as a singer, his important future in educational and guidance roles is quite clear judging from his considerable involvement in this production in those key ways.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous production 14 Jan 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
A fabulous production of a relative rarity. Visually stunning with strong central performances and Jose Van Dam's farewell performance in a signature role. Very interesting background documentary adds to the total package.
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Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A worthy record of Van Dam's farewell 3 Jun 2012
By John H. Flannigan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This May 2010 production of Massenet's 1910 opera "Don Quichotte" marked the opera's centenary and also Jose Van Dam's operatic farewell at the Theatre de la Monnaie, Brussels. It is beautiful in every way--vocally, scenically, sonically, and visually--and a worthy record of Van Dam's farewell. Van Dam is just shy of 70 in this production, but you would never guess it from his singing or stage movements--a consummate artist. His is a noble portrayal and deeply moving. The Act V death scene is a model of beautiful singing and acting. Spanish mezzo Silvia Tro Santafe is a glittering Dulcinee, with a wonderfully flexible voice and a very pleasing vibrato. Her experience in baroque opera serves her well in this role, full of rhythmic complexities and subtle ornamentation. She nails the difficult music Massenet conceived for this character. Werner Van Mechelen is a beautiful Sancho Panza; his Act IV defense of his humiliated master is extremely affecting and wonderfully sung. Bernard Villiers does a fine job in the brief but important role of the Chef des Bandits. And Dulcinee's four suitors, Julie Mossay, Camille Mercks, Gijs van der Linden, and Vincent Delhoum, although newcomers, are excellent and light up the stage whenever they appear. Marc Minkowski conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Monnaie Opera with total commitment and command and emphasizes the score's extreme tautness and brilliant color.

This DVD is a joy to watch and listen to--excellent sound quality for both singers and orchestra and beautifully filmed. The cinematography in particular is refreshing: no jarring cuts to closeups and instead frequent shots of the entire stage, making it possible to imagine how the performance looked to an audience member. Laurent Pelly's whimsical set design--gigantic mounds of paper signifying, by turns, Dulcinee's love letters and the romantic novels that Don Quichotte has dwelt on--was simple but hardly simplistic. Who would have thought that piles of paper could look so handsome on a stage? Ms. Tro Santafe manages to slither down the mound of love letters all the while maintaining her vocal and physical poise--great job!

Also included is an excellent film detailing the auditions, rehearsals, costume creation and set design that culminated in the performance. Van Dam is a thoughtful narrator of the film, with generous samplings of Pelly, the chorus master, orchestra members, etc. The DVD's packaging is unusually fine, too, and includes a handsome 50-page booklet with essays and bios (in French and English), together with lovely still photos of the production.

The whole package is one of the best conceived opera DVDs I've seen. It is very satisfying to see Van Dam's great artistry and that of his fellow cast members matched by the efforts of so many individuals who were involved in the production and staging of these performances. Massenet's (regrettably) seldom-performed opera could not have looked or sounded better than it does in this DVD.
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine production of a rare opera but sadly compromised by offering just stereo sound 7 July 2012
By I. Giles - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD
This opera may be unfamiliar to many but fortunately this disc contains a particularly illuminating 52 minute documentary which clarifies much about the entire production. My advice to all future purchasers therefore would be to watch the documentary first then watch the opera next.

In view of the importance and the excellence of the documentary I shall start this review by very briefly detailing its contents. The documentary provides an in-depth coverage of the several months of preparations preceding the performance. José van Dam features in this as an important linking commentator and introduces the auditions and the various stages of soloist, chorus and orchestral rehearsals. The stages of stage design and construction are illustrated as well as costumes and make-up. Acting is rehearsed as well as showing how sword fighting is choreographed to fit the music precisely. The whole concept of the production is explained in detail by the producer and this is interspersed with constructional footage as the sets, costumes and lighting are created and adjusted to fit the concept. All this backstage activity is skilfully cut into extracts from the final stage performance so we can really see how it all goes together, and most importantly, understand why. One is left with an overwhelming respect for such a combination of talents, dedication and sheer sustained hard work.

This production celebrates two important anniversaries - the 100th anniversary of the opera plus the 50th and final anniversary of José van Dam's performing career. Although this marks his last production as a singer, his important future in educational and guidance roles is quite clear judging from his considerable involvement in this production in those key ways. The opera itself features just three main leading roles - Don Quichotte, Sancho Panza and Dulcinée. Around these key roles revolve the lesser figures involved in Don Quichotte's adventures as his mind deteriorates. The chorus has a demanding musical role but participates dramatically rather as a Greek chorus might. The music is essentially lyrical and undemanding to follow. Massenet was a skilful composer and this remains true even if his popularity is not what it was during his life.

The recording has clear imaging and the camera work is attentive to the demands of the production giving a good 16.9 view. The decision to record in stereo is a complete mystery to me bearing in mind the importance of the issue and the tremendous care that has be taken to produce it. There can be no doubt that a surround sound format would have added greatly to the overall effect and a great opportunity has been lost here.

In general terms I would count this as an interesting opera and well worth getting to know. I found the concept of the production initially confusing but this was largely cleared up for me with the illuminating documentary as described above. All the performers are fully up to the demands of both the production and to the music. In my opinion the lack of surround sound is a real lost opportunity to achieve all-round excellence and for that reason I feel that 4 stars is a more appropriate rating than the full 5 stars. This has been an interesting experience and can be recommended as such whilst not quite being in the front rank of operas such as those created by other contemporary composers such as Puccini, Verdi or Wagner for example.

However, regardless of my personal reservations, I would suggest that this disc still merits serious consideration for purchasers looking for a good modern recording of this relatively rare opera.

............................................

Some dialogue from the comments section that may offer further help:

I thought that you might like to know that before I buy a recording I now look through all the reviews to see if you have posted one. Your assessments and opinions are invaluable. Thank you. (US review)

I particularly like your format of review. They give the prospective purchaser an idea of the style of the playing and relevant comparisons. They are succinct. Keep up the good work! (UK review)

I'm sure there are many other serious collectors, besides myself, who wait for your synopsis and opinion before spending their hard-earned money on new releases...
Thank you (UK review)

I'd also add to this. When you in particular review a particular CD, I pay pretty close attention. I would say the characteristics of your reviews I value the most are the detail and general sense of balance and fairness that comes across. That's a great help. Thanks for taking the time on your reviews. (US review)

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Significantly, I know of at least one good reviewer who has finally given up with anonymous negative votes such as has been experienced here and deleted all his reviews. The loss to the whole collecting community is his considerable knowledgeable advice and the gain is his own free time. He cannot be persuaded to return to writing reviews despite my repeated encouragement.

Anonymous negative votes without supporting reasons can have other negative results that you may not have thought of.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So Many Words 9 Aug 2012
By Green Alien Woman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
An extraordinary production of Don Quichotte. Those of you familiar with the book will enjoy the metaphors and intriguing set design. Those of you familiar with the popular musical, you're in for a real treat. It's magically more passionate than the musical ever could be.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 12 Jan 2013
By Jay Sparber - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
my opinion is this is massenet's best. Fantastic performance and would be apreciated by opera lover's as well as musical theartre lovers. After seeing this one really questions the originality of Man of Lamancha. This is a much better interpretation of the don Quixotte story
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RCM / Tucson 8 Nov 2012
By RCM - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Brilliantly done, a masterpiece by Massenet; music inspired, production imaginative and Van Dam is superb in the title role of Don Quichotte, I cannot recommend too highly
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