Profile for Gordon Keirle-Smith > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Gordon Keirle-...
Top Reviewer Ranking: 217,572
Helpful Votes: 47

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Gordon Keirle-Smith "Creator of Zandernatis" (South of France)

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2
pixel
Puccini: La Boheme (Oslo Opera 2012) (Diego Torre/ Vasilij Ladjuk/ Marita Sølberg/ Jennifer Rowley) (Electric Picture: EPC02BD) [Blu-ray]
Puccini: La Boheme (Oslo Opera 2012) (Diego Torre/ Vasilij Ladjuk/ Marita Sølberg/ Jennifer Rowley) (Electric Picture: EPC02BD) [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Diego Torre
Price: £29.99

4.0 out of 5 stars The OperaDou Jury* delivers a hung verdict for the Oslo La Boheme, 22 May 2013
Length:: 3:18 Mins

If this review were to reflect my own personal opinion of the Norwegian State Opera production of Puccini's La Boheme, directed by Stefan Herheim, I would have no hesitation in giving it five stars, for it is superlatively well sung and bravely introduces a whole new dimension to an opera we think we know inside out. However, when you bring together a jury of some 15 aficionados, including two who have never seen the work before, and therefore have no preconceptions, three who "disapprove" of the unconventional approach adopted by the director and several seasoned opera connoisseurs who appreciate the courage needed to give the staging such a thought-provoking slant, a unanimous verdict is not possible.

As our video reveals, the debate after the screening was, at times, quite heated. It is indeed, asking quite a lot of audiences who know and love this opera, to accept the idea of tuberculosis being replaced by cancer, and Mimi dying in a hospital bed before the orchestra plays a single note... The "saving grace" was of course the quality of the singing and playing which made this production musically superb and did draw almost unanimous praise.

In the end, quite a few members of the jury expressed what they felt the director was trying to achieve, suggesting that the all-pervading presence of death in a context we can all relate to did indeed give the story greater depth than the often over romanticised approach we are used to - and that this in consequence made the music all the more poignant...
Here are some of the jury members' written comments:

"I very much liked this mixture of the fantastic (evoking Tim Burton and James Ensor) and romanticism. The orchestra and singers are perfectly in line with this. I gradually got involved and was very moved -- although not immediately."

"Surprising stagng - to say the least! Makes it less romantic than a conventional production, but on the other hand it comes across as more realistic and powerful. I was much more moved by the second half. Interpretation and singing first class. Beautiful images, very well filmed - and the sound was vivid and realistic."

"The staging makes the story difficult to understand. It is shocking and even quite brutal for those who have actually had experience of the illness (cancer). In contrast, the women's voices were particularly beautiful, especially that of Musetta. Also, the way the sets underwent a total transformation right in front of our eyes was quite staggering."

"Highly original. A way of presenting a very well known opera in a modern way. This approach draws us into the suffering and the environment and the medical care that goes with it. Treating death from our viewpoint is a very interesting idea. The scenes where we see the hospital bed or the patients help us understand the torments of Rodolfo - who loves Mimi while at the same time suffering as he sees the illness and fears death and the inevitable separation... "

"Surprising, offbeat, even provocative. I had problems understanding what the staging was trying to say by showing both the medical environment of the 21st century and the romantic vision of Montmartre in the 19th century. But despite all that, it does make you think!"

(*The OperaDou Jury is made up of at least 12 professional classical musicians, dancers and seasoned opera & ballet afficionados who regularly meet at the "OperaDou" "Home Opera Theatre" in the south of France to review classical HD productions and share their opinions with a global audience).


Puccini: Turandot (Melbourne 2012) (Graene Murphy, Susan Foster, Rosario La Spina, Hyeseoung Kwon) (Opera Australia: OPOZ56033BD) [Blu-ray] [2013]
Puccini: Turandot (Melbourne 2012) (Graene Murphy, Susan Foster, Rosario La Spina, Hyeseoung Kwon) (Opera Australia: OPOZ56033BD) [Blu-ray] [2013]
Dvd ~ Graene Murphy
Price: £29.80

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The OperaDou Jury* applauds the Opera Australia production of "Turandot", 1 April 2013
Length:: 2:22 Mins

The Jury was delighted to see a new production from Opera Australia, after giving rave reviews to several of their other productions last year (Lakmé, Don Giovanni and La Traviata). But it must be said that the consistently high quality we have now come to expect from Sydney (or in this case, Melbourne) really is unique. And "Turandot" could be the greatest achievement of them all, since it is an opera that needs a creative approach to make it come alive. We have all seen too many "Turandots" that are so tiresomely static that even the superb music seems to pall after a while... But not this one! For director Graeme Murphy brings a whole new dimension to this production by adding dancers and his own distinctive choreographic style - enhanced by some very creative camera work. The result is quite dazzling and the Jury was extremely impressed - and moved - as some of their comments show:

"Great staging in terms of the number of singers and dancers, the costumes, the interplay of flags and the choreography... I almost felt I was there, in China! The voices were beautiful, and I particularly enjoyed those of Turandot (Susan Foster) and Liu (Hyeseoung Kwon)... "

Authenticity was in fact something that several Jury members singled out for special comment:

"The choreography, chorus movements and set design were superb. As always, the music was stirring and delightful. Plus, everyone's movements were very authentically Chinese. The tenor sang beautifully, despite being a bit wooden -- unlike Timus his father, who moved me to tears with his farewell... All in all I found this performance quite thrilling."

Yes, there were one or two reservations about the casting of the two major characters, but the overall impression is best summed up in the quote below:

"Excellent production, and while the casting of the two main characters may not be ideal, their voices are more than a match for these challenging parts. Together with the spectacular staging and expert choreography, this has to be the best production of Turandot currently available on Blu-Ray."

(*The OperaDou Jury is made up of at least 12 professional classical musicians, dancers and seasoned opera & ballet afficionados who meet at the L'OperaDou "Home Opera Theatre" in the south of France to review classical HD productions and share their opinions with a global audience. More details can be found by Googling "OperaDou". The complete review and all Video Crits can be consulted on the "Turandot" page at "OperaDou Archives").


Puccini: Il Trittico [Opus Arte: OABD7102D] [Blu-ray] [2011] [2012] [Region Free]
Puccini: Il Trittico [Opus Arte: OABD7102D] [Blu-ray] [2011] [2012] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Lucio Gallo
Price: £29.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Operadou Jury* gives 5 stars to "Il Trittico", 10 Oct 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Length:: 2:06 Mins

The 15 member Jury who attended this session were very enthusiastic about these three, very different works. It is a particularly attractive programme, beginning with the drama of Il Tabarro in its deliberately dingy and oppressive setting, followed by the heartfelt agony of Sister Angelica with her painful secret and finally the comic light relief of the scheming Gianni Schicchi. The Jury was virtually unanimous in praising the staging, performance and HD production. They were particularly impressed by the way the Royal Opera House has so successfully woven these three very different works into a satisfying whole, giving spectators such a broad palette of emotions to experience in one single evening...

Quote from one Jury member:
"3 very different but very pleasing productions. The first was fabulous, the second superb and the third a welcome relief after all the seriousness... Costumes were better in Suor Angelica after the rather drab attire seen in Il Tabarro. Overall, singing, acting and cohesion between the artists was excellent. Gianni Schicchi irresistible..."

(*The OperaDou Jury is made up of at least 12 professional classical musicians, dancers and seasoned opera & ballet afficionados who meet at the L'OperaDou "Home Opera Theatre" in the south of France to review classical HD productions and share their opinions with a global audience. More details can be found by Googling "OperaDou". The complete review and all Video Crits can be consulted on the "Il Trittico" page at "OperaDou Archives").


Verdi: La Traviata (Sydney Opera House 2013) (Emma Matthews/ Gianluca Terranova/ Opera Australia Opera and Ballet Orchestra/ Brian Castles-Onion/ Francesca Zambello) (Opera Australia: OPOZ56030BD) [Blu-ray] [2012] [2009]
Verdi: La Traviata (Sydney Opera House 2013) (Emma Matthews/ Gianluca Terranova/ Opera Australia Opera and Ballet Orchestra/ Brian Castles-Onion/ Francesca Zambello) (Opera Australia: OPOZ56030BD) [Blu-ray] [2012] [2009]
Dvd ~ Emma Matthews
Price: £29.99

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The OperaDou Jury* "enthralled" by the Sydney "La Traviata", 23 Sep 2012
Length:: 0:50 Mins

Given a rare opportunity to preview the Opera Australia production of "La Traviata" on Sydney Harbour, the OperaDou Jury judged it to be "Enthralling", "Stunning", "Magical", "Transcendental", "Dazzling", "Luminous" - with our audiophile expert declaring "The sound engineer deserves a medal."

Everyone was very much aware of the tremendous sense of occasion communicated by this grandiose production set against the iconic backdrop of the Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge and glittering skyline. One of our French Jury members - a very experienced opera-goer and critic - said "We are unlikely to see such a lavish production on this scale ever again" !
There was great praise from everyone for the cast, particularly Emma Matthews ("Fantastic", "Fabulous", "Extraordinary", "Emotionally thrilling") One of our Australian Jury members even said, "We thought that no one could ever rival Joan Sutherland... but I think Emma Matthews does..." Jonathan Summers as Germont was also singled out for special praise by several Jury members.
Without hesitation they gave it an A+ rating.

(*The OperaDou Jury is made up of at least 12 professional classical musicians, dancers and seasoned opera & ballet afficionados who meet at the L'OperaDou "Home Opera Theatre" in the south of France to review classical HD productions and share their opinions with a global audience. More details can be found by Googling "OperaDou". The complete review and all Video Crits can be consulted on the "La Traviata Sydney" page at "OperaDou Archives").
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 4, 2013 4:09 AM BST


Mozart: Don Giovanni (Sydney Opera House) (Teddy Tahu Rhodes/ Conal Coad/ Rachel Durkin/ Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra/ Göran Järvefelt/ Mark Wigglesworth) (Opera Australia: OPOZ56024BD) [Blu-ray] [2012][Region Free] [2009]
Mozart: Don Giovanni (Sydney Opera House) (Teddy Tahu Rhodes/ Conal Coad/ Rachel Durkin/ Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra/ Göran Järvefelt/ Mark Wigglesworth) (Opera Australia: OPOZ56024BD) [Blu-ray] [2012][Region Free] [2009]
Dvd ~ Teddy Tahu Rhodes
Price: £22.75

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Teddy Tahu Rhodes wins the hearts of the OperaDou Jury* !, 31 July 2012
Length:: 1:09 Mins

Opera Australia has once again succeeded in putting its own special brand of enthusiasm into one of the most popular operas of all time. The singing is superlative and the acting remarkable. In particular, Teddy Tahu Rhodes shines in the title role. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that he not only looks and acts and sings the part superlatively - oozing testosterone and strutting around with a lascivious gleam in his eye - he actually manages to INCARNATE Don Giovanni in a way that the Jury felt was virtually unmatched.

Here are two quotes from the Jury members' comments:

"One of the most exciting productions of this opera I have ever seen. The basic, conventional staging set off the outstanding stage presence and acting skills of the cast. Zerlina, Donna Anna and of course, the Don himself, were all particularly impressive singers. This was a total theatrical experience!!!"

"Really impressive! Loved it all, especially the final scenes and the very fine singing throughout. Despite the humour which came through at times, I was very much aware of an underlying darkness pervading everything. A fantastic opera - and a fantastic production!"

Since all but 1 of the 15 Jury members had seen other productions of this opera before, we asked them an additional question: "Is Teddy Tahu Rhodes the best Don Giovanni you have ever seen?" 3 said "No" (one of them adding "But he is very good" ) and 11 saying "Yes" (with one - who had seen 5 other productions - adding "Best by far").

That is a decisive 78% !!! who think Teddy Tahu Rhodes is the best Don Giovanni they have ever seen in their opera-going lives!

(*The OperaDou Jury is made up of at least 12 professional classical musicians, dancers and seasoned opera & ballet afficionados who meet at the L'OperaDou "Home Opera Theatre" in the south of France to review classical HD productions and share their opinions with a global audience. More details can be found by Googling "OperaDou". The complete review and all Video Crits can be consulted on the "Don Giovanni" page at "OperaDou Archives").


Delibes: Lakme (Sydney Opera House) (Emma Matthews/ Aldo Di Toro/ Stephen Bennett/ Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra/ Roger Hodgman/ Emmanuel Joel-Hornak) (Opera Australia: OPOZ56021BD) [Blu-ray] [2012][Region Free] [2013]
Delibes: Lakme (Sydney Opera House) (Emma Matthews/ Aldo Di Toro/ Stephen Bennett/ Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra/ Roger Hodgman/ Emmanuel Joel-Hornak) (Opera Australia: OPOZ56021BD) [Blu-ray] [2012][Region Free] [2013]
Dvd ~ Emma Matthews
Price: £29.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Opera Australia - and Lakmé - wow the OperaDou Jury! *, 5 May 2012
Length:: 1:59 Mins

Opera Australia's sumptuous production of Lakmé with Emma Matthews in the title role caused something of a sensation when it was shown to the OperaDou Jury in early June 2012. Audiences in Europe have had few opportunities to see OA productions until now, so the realization that so much wonderful music-making takes place in Australia was a "very, very pleasant surprise" as one of our seasoned American opera-goers and regular Jury member says in our "Video Crits". Now that these productions are coming out on Blu-Ray we will at last be able to enjoy more of their performances. If they are all up to the standard of "Lakmé" we have quite an operatic feast to look forward to!

The lavish sets and gorgeous costumes got a special mention from several people on the Jury. It was also a joy to see more long shots than we invariably do in most other operas on disc. The sharpness of the high definition image makes this possible and gives a greater impression of "being there" (no doubt why some 60% of the Jury felt that this HD experience was "better than" or "significantly better than" actually attending a live performance! The remainder judged it comparable with the real thing).

One of the French Jury members was a retired first violinist who has played in performances of Lakmé at the Paris and Lyon operas. He too was amazed at the quality of the OA production, greatly admiring the staging and singling out the orchestral playing and Aldo Di Toro's clear tenor voice for special mention.
However, the greatest, unequivocal and most generous praise was of course for Emma Matthews. She was a discovery for everyone. And what a discovery! She is so believable as Lakmé and sings with such purity, clarity and (apparently) effortless command of her amazing voice. She brought tears to the eyes of quite a few Jury members with the famous coloratura showpiece aria the "Bell Song" which, combined with her radiant smile and authentic Indian gestures, was a moment of sheer delight.

This was a very memorable evening for everyone, with 90% of the Jury saying they would like to see the production again in the cinema, nearly 80% saying they would add this disc to their own collections and 95% saying they would recommend it to their family and friends!

A few of the Jury members - including the three Australians we had with us that evening - regretted not being shown any shots of the iconic Sydney Opera House where this performance was filmed. It would have given an even greater sense of "occasion" they felt... And be a proud statement of where all this is coming from!

(*The OperaDou Jury is made up of 12 professional classical musicians, dancers and seasoned opera & ballet afficionados who meet at the L'OperaDou "Home Opera Theatre" in the south of France to review classical HD productions and share their opinions with a global audience. More details can be found by Googling "OperaDou". The complete review and all Video Crits can be consulted on the "Lakmé" page at "OperaDou Archives").


Talbot: Wheeldon: Alice's Adventures In Wonderland [Blu-ray] [2010] [Region Free]
Talbot: Wheeldon: Alice's Adventures In Wonderland [Blu-ray] [2010] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Lauren Cuthbertson
Price: £29.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" gets a "Triple A+" rating from the OperaDou Jury*, 23 Feb 2012
Length:: 6:23 Mins

When the OperaDou Jury views an opera or ballet production on Blu-Ray, one or two of its 12 members usually has reservations about some aspect or other of the show, making it virtually impossible to get a maximum rating in all three categories: Staging, Performance and Picture/Sound quality. But "Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland" shows that it can be done - because everyone agreed that this was a stunning show in all respects.

Our video features Jean-Marc, who danced in the Maurice Béjart and Roland Petit companies, explaining why he thinks this is such an outstanding - and creative - production.

Here is a further comment from another Jury member:

"Magical! What talent! The music was delightful. The choreography interesting, the costumes imaginative... It was absolutely enchanting. The corps de ballet was perfect and Alice so exquisite. Superbly supported by a wonderful orchestra."

All Jury findings - and other "Video Crits" - can be found by searching for "OperaDou" or the appropriate page in the "OperaDou Archives".

(*The OperaDou Jury is made up of 12 professional classical musicians, dancers and seasoned opera & ballet afficionados who meet at the L'OperaDou "Home Opera Theatre" in the south of France to review classical HD productions and share their opinions with a global audience.)


Charles Gounod: Mireille (Opera national de Paris 2009) [Blu-ray] [2011]
Charles Gounod: Mireille (Opera national de Paris 2009) [Blu-ray] [2011]
Dvd ~ Inva Mula
Price: £28.45

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The OperaDou Jury* rates "Mireille" highly for its staging, singing and playing, 2 Feb 2012
Length:: 1:07 Mins

Showing this opera about Provence to a Jury that includes several French people from the region who grew up with this music was particularly interesting. As one Jury member says in the Video Crits, "This music is part of our genetic heritage." Some found it difficult to identify with a blonde and blue eyed Mireille at first, before being won over "by her grace". However, the Anglophones with no preconceptions did not have this problem. Praise was almost unanimous for the singing and the straightforward, but very effective staging.
One member of the Jury, shown in our Video Crit here, is a former member of the Opera de Paris orchestra, who has played for performances of "Mireille" many times. He explains that it was quite an experience for him to watch this production, rather than play in the pit, and that he found it to be well staged, well sung, well cast - particularly Vincent - in fact, "perfect" in every way. Two other Video Crits can be found on the appropriate "Operadou Archives" page.
Here are a few other comments from Jury members:
"The entire opera is masterfully produced: the staging, décor and colours put you right in the heart of Provence. The libretto is charmingly evocative and the singers just perfect, especially Vincent who seems to be made for the role!"
"Simple, sensible staging -- suited the music and story. Really surprised the opera is not better known -- it deserves to be."
"I particularly liked the pastoral staging, every scene could have been the subject for a picture, painted in real-time."
Finally, I think it is important to share a comment from fellow reviewer Hank McFadyen of HDVDArts who says of this production: "This is probably the very best videography of a live performance that we have encountered so far in the 250 or so HDVD titles we have reviewed".

(*The OperaDou Jury is made up of 12 professional classical musicians, dancers and seasoned opera & ballet afficionados who meet at the OperaDou "Home Opera Theatre" in the south of France to review classical HD Blu-ray productions and share their opinions with a global audience).


Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker (recorded live at the war memorial house san fran. 2007) [Blu-ray] [2010] [Region Free]
Tchaikovsky: Nutcracker (recorded live at the war memorial house san fran. 2007) [Blu-ray] [2010] [Region Free]
Dvd ~ Tchaikovsky
Price: £29.89

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The OperaDou Jury gives the San Francisco "Nutcracker" an AAA rating!, 31 Dec 2011
Length:: 1:02 Mins

For the first time in its two year history the OperaDou Jury* was virtually unanimous in its praise for this production. Staging, Performance and HD video and sound were all awarded "A" ratings, with several members saying it "reminded them of their childhood". In particular two members who had seen over half a dozen productions either live or recorded (in France, the UK and the US) said that this one outshone them all for its originality and grace! The enthusiasm is quite obvious in this "Video Crit" which can also be seen on the "Operadou Archives" page devoted to this production. Heartily recommended for ballet connoisseurs and newcomers to the genre.

(*The OperaDou Jury is made up of 12 professional classical musicians, dancers and seasoned opera & ballet afficionados who meet at the L'OperaDou "Home Opera Theatre" in the south of France to review classical HD productions and share their opinions with a global audience.)


Dream With Me in Concert [Blu-ray] [US Import]
Dream With Me in Concert [Blu-ray] [US Import]
Dvd ~ Jackie Evancho
Price: £33.70

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The OperaDou Jury "left reeling" after their first encounter with Jackie Evancho, 5 Oct 2011
Jackie Evancho has built up such an incredible following in the US and UK as a result of her success on the "Got Talent" shows that it isn't easy to get an opinion of her that has not been "preconditioned" by all the thoroughly well-deserved enthusiasm.
However, in much of continental Europe, she is relatively unknown - for the moment. We were therefore able to carry out an intriguing experiment. We organised a special session of the "OperaDou Jury" at our Home Opera Theatre in the South of France and did a "blind test", playing a couple of tracks from the CD and inviting the jury members to describe WHO they thought could possibly be singing with such amazing purity, perfect pitch and phrasing. The guesses were interesting, ranging from a 40-year-old (bald) countertenor to a choirboy or a mid-30s, amply proportioned, diva. We then showed the jury the "Dream with Me Concert" Blu-ray* (very efficiently shipped by amazon.com to arrive on October 5, the day after it was released in the US). They were therefore among the very first in Europe to see Jackie performing at that concert in full High Definition, on a 330 cm screen.
To say that they were blown away would be an understatement! In fact it was quite a shock that left some of them reeling, not knowing how to react. One or two even felt "uncomfortable" at the idea of such a perfectly mature voice coming from such a tiny frame. For some, it was quite a culture shock as well. You can check out all these fascinating reactions in detail for yourself by simply Googling "operadou" and going to the "Jackie Evancho" page.

*By the way, this Blu-ray disc is zone and region-free, so is perfectly compatible with all players.


Page: 1 | 2