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Satish Kamath (India)

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Adam: Le Corsaire [Maria Gutirerrez, Davit Galstyan, Takafumi Watanabe, Juliette Thelin] [Blu-ray] [2014]
Adam: Le Corsaire [Maria Gutirerrez, Davit Galstyan, Takafumi Watanabe, Juliette Thelin] [Blu-ray] [2014]
Dvd ~ Maria Gutirerrez
Price: £28.88

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Byron comes alive....A Totally Fresh New Ballet Kudos Coleman and Belarbi., 11 Feb 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you were expecting a revamp of the Le Corsaire as we have known it for decades, forget it.

This has none of the opulent sets or the optimistic flippancy of the celebrated Kirov production with Altynai Asylmuratova as Medora, or a graceful and cheerful Yelena Pankova as Gulnara, or a limp old Saed Pasha and the slave dealer being outfoxed by the gallant Corssire, or the full force of the then Kirov ( Mariyinsky now) corps de ballet. So curb your enthusiasm. Do not even expect the same music except in tiny doses either. One has to wait 20 minutes before hearing anything close to an original piece from the Corsaire that we have been used to.

This is a fresh new ballet with 80% of the music newly adapted from mostly Adam, reinforced by pieces from many other composer ranging from Mayerbeer to Sibelius. But you know what? They seem to be seamlessly strung without losing the continuity. They have been wonderfully re-orchestrated with beautiful effect. David Coleman.. Sir... you have done a marvellous job. The themes are immediately catchy and pleasant too.

The choreography too, is fresh. The only dances that have remained almost untouched are the very familiar ones from the second act, recognizable by most lovers of ballet. Even here, the sequences have been changed.

This production has turned the older ones on its head. Gone is the very optimistic and cheerful feel of this ballet as we know it. In its place is a very serious and Byronesque approach, which although gloomy sometimes, is poignant. The ending is not exactly cheerful. Like the Paris and RPO productions of Swan Lake, this one too, takes refuge in death for eternal happiness, which frankly, Sucks. Even so, the production is sensible and wholesome.

The corps de ballet cannot be compared to the big 5 of the ballet world, but I must really complement the dancers and the ballet masters for attaining neat perfection in movement, precision and the cohesion, which I sometimes miss in the big 5. Excellent.

The soloists have done themselves proud. Both Gutirrez and Galstyan are a treat to watch.

The Audio, Video as well post production are superb. At times, the orchestra, soloists and the conductor are shown, but these are not intrusive (unlike in Raymonda where the PIP of a pianist spoilt one of the best dances).

If at all there are negatives, it is (the lack of) sets and props that are threadbare and not too impressive the way they are changed.The costumes however, make up for that deficiency. I am also disappointed that the dances of the Odalisques save for one, that too danced by the Sultan, in the productions we know; the grand ballet waltz of the harem is totally omitted.

All in all, a very good purchase. Buy it. It is a totally new ballet with wonderfully well incorporated music

Quixote, Don / Nureyev Australian Ballet [Blu-ray] [Region A & B & C] [US Import]
Quixote, Don / Nureyev Australian Ballet [Blu-ray] [Region A & B & C] [US Import]
Dvd ~ Rudolf Nureyev
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £24.80

4.0 out of 5 stars Nureyev all the way... worth the money, 10 Sep 2013
There are very few films shot for the big screen that give you the satisfaction of having watched (especially) a ballet, and most of them are abridged. Many are dated with respect to the screenplay, depiction and style. The absence of an audience, applause, bows by the artistes, the all important foot falls among other such stuff that goes towards making the blu ray or DVD totally satisfactory for the home viewer, are elements that do matter.
Shot in 1973, when even VCRs were a distant illusion for the common man, this transcription to blu ray of this
production suffers from most of the shortcomings I listed above...


Like the old Royal Ballet productions, this one does not fall into the rut that the Sovietsky's indulged in, like gaudy lighting, cheap effects and stuff like that. To that extent, this production that was filmed in an aircraft hanger modified for this purpose, and is brilliantly shot with great choreography and down to earth facial and body expressions is indeed a worthy addition to blu ray.

Here, you get to see a genius of an era, exercising his brilliance in dance, choreogrphy and the production in general. It is all about Nureyev. 40 years on, even those who have seen the rest of the cast of Australian ballet would be hard put to remember whether they were as wonderful on stage as they are here. How many 'takes' it would have taken for such an extravaganza, one cannot guess. There is a good bonus provided with the disc, that does some justice to the whole production.

Having been made for the big screen, the visuals are crisp and clear, and the audio is very good too.

Although my personal favourite is the live Paris ballet production with Aurelie Dupont (a notch above Lucette Aldous) and Manuel Legris (not as great as Nureyev), this production satisfies in its own way, and I would deem it more as a collectors item in honour of the genius of Rudolph Nureyev.

Prokofiev: Cinderella [Anna Tsygankova, Matthew Golding, Larissa Lezhnina] [Opus Arte: OABD7126D] [Blu-ray] [2013]
Prokofiev: Cinderella [Anna Tsygankova, Matthew Golding, Larissa Lezhnina] [Opus Arte: OABD7126D] [Blu-ray] [2013]
Dvd ~ Anna Tsygankova
Price: £29.46

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clash of the Extremes, 25 Aug 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I noticed Christopher Wheeldon and became a fan of his brand of choreography and stage settings, props and the elaborate use of tech watching his production of Alice in Wonderland with the Royal Ballet. I bought this production of Cinderella immediately thanks to him, and yes, it was a visual extravaganza of the type that has never been seen before in a ballet like Cinderella. In fact the props and visuals surpass the Alice he did two/three years ago.

But those very elements have to a certain extent watered down the splendid dancing and choreography which one sometimes fails to notice thanks to the distraction of the virtual 3D sets and lighting.

If I were to make comparisons between the Cinderellas I have seen over the ages, there is the 'serious' intimate rather than lavish 1985 fairy tale version from the Bolshoi;
The Fredrick Ashton choreographed version starring Antoinette Sibley and Anthony Dowell a slapsticky comedic thing with men for the ugly sisters;
The minimalist Paris version that disappointed horribly;A Morose Monte Carlo version;
And the last of all, the Royal Birmingham Ballet that was absolutely charming and the truest of all in terms of feeling and dancing like Cinderella in a wholesome way that we as kids read and dreamed about.

This production, with all the expensive gizmos paid for by San Francisco as well as Netherlands ballets has just about everything going for it, more money, far better solo dancers, a great conductor and orchestra, yet, is not just as pleasing as the other Blu ray from Birmingham Royal Ballet.
Let me try and explain in a little more detail

1. The Story and Liberetto -
Is a hotch-potch. They borrow from both the Grimm's version and the Proust and add some elements of their own and from Rossini's Cenerentola. To begin with, there is the Monte Carlo and Paris morose opening adaptation incorporated here that the music really does not support, that of a child Cinderella who loses her mother. Then the Kid Prince is then shown in the palace as well (with this production's version of Rossini's Dandini) growing up. In both these, the Kids have done a marvelous job. Enchanting, and not boring.

The Fairy God Mother is substituted by a protective tree of life and four shadows called fate that follow and aid Cinderella (she is not aware of them) and her inner spirit and feelings wherever she goes, all the time. Nice idea to show soaring emotions.
Then there are the sisters, only one really mean and the other forced to be (!) , but both adequately pretty. The Step mother (Kudos to Larissa Lezhnina, who can forget her from the Kirov days? She dances and acts wonderfully well in this one)... is adequately mean, and accompanies the kids to the ball. The King and the Queen are there too (these bits are new additions of their own, not seen in the other productions) with the courtiers and other elegant people.

Then comes the part that I just cant stand, the four foreign princesses at the ball, behaving as though they were on a meth high, badly portrayed and full of cheap, very cheap stuff to pass off for humour. This scene alone takes away a star from my ratings.

2. Choreography and Dancing
Wonderful. Wheeldon has shown his genius to the hilt here. The choreography is wonderful to watch and the complexity is dealt with excellently by the dancers. The dances are fantastic. All the duets, trios and those involving the soloists have been wonderfully thought of.

It is rare indeed to see a very palatable combination of the classic as well as the modern ballet dancing going hand in hand with brilliant results.

The dancers, especially the soloists are a treat to watch dancing to Wheeldon's and the Ballet Master's steps and combinations. Tsygankova's pedigree from the Bolshoi together with Vintage Kirov from Lezhnina... worth paying for. The men, especially Golding as the Prince are given very attractive dances which they perform to near perfection.
As was expected, the step-sisters are the true eye-catchers insofar as the steps, dances, rhythms and choreography allotted, and they have done a brilliant job... even better than the ones at Birmingham. The corps de ballet is what it is expected to be, but the choreography does justice to their movements and dancing.

3. Stagecraft and stuff
WHEW.... The props, the chandeliers, the trees, the screen effects, video projections are not just there with the latest MET production of the Ring, but tend to even surpass it at times. Surpass it to the point of distraction... like when a lovely dance by the soloists and the corps de ballet was going on, I was watching the effects with the tree... had to rewind to see the dances.

4. Excellent conducting (am a big fan of Ermanno Florio for ballet) and well balanced audio recording. The blu ray video is as good as is it expected to be.

In the entire Jing-Bang, I think poor Prokofiev lost out just a little here and there. Balletomanes may call triumph of dance bending music to its ends, but overall, sometimes it jars a bit to see pure slapstick done to music that was meant to represent something else. I make this humble submission only with respect to the treatment of themes in the Bolshoi 1985 version, which is reportedly the closest to what Prokofiev and his contemporaries had envisaged while producing this work.

All the same, it is a very good purchase. You wont be disappointed one bit.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 30, 2013 8:25 AM BST

Das Rheingold: Metropolitan Opera (Levine) [Blu-ray] [2013]
Das Rheingold: Metropolitan Opera (Levine) [Blu-ray] [2013]
Dvd ~ Robert Lepage
Price: £21.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Special in a very different way, 21 Aug 2013
I am a huge Wagner fan. I have watched at least 6 different productions of the Ring. For me, the fully satisfying productions musically as well as vocally are those of Barenboim and the previous Met production with Levinne decades ago.

So whats so special (other than the blu ray clarity) about this one ?
It is a truly evolved 21st century production making great use of technology but at the same time devoid of trashy 20th century costumes, un-necessary nudity and the need to make it different for the sake of being different.
Mehta with Fura dels Baus with a young orchestra brought out the Velrncia Ring, which although musically and Vocally were just short of great, was a little overdone with unwieldy and clumsy crude mechanical sets that had people on stage operating them, distracting one from the performance itself. Even the projections there were tending to being a tad glitzy and tacky at the same time.

Most of those kinds of hiccups are overcome in this one, unless one were to psych oneself that 'those are just planks' being operated and so on. The sets must have cost a bomb, and surprisingly look both minimal as well as gorgeously elaborate at the same time, thanks to the deft use of tech.

The trailers I saw of these do not do justice to the production.
Why I am elaborating on these aspects is because this theatrical cycle was and is meant to be Visually great in addition to the rest of the drama and music ax Wagner had intended.


Brynn Terfel is almost a perfect Wotan. Looks, sings and acts the part. Never mind that Wagner intended this part for a Bassy Baritone rather than Terfel's timbre.
Eric Owens as Alberich is another perfect casting for the role.
As for the rest, the Rhein Maidens were outstanding without being distracting inspite of the slightly acrobatic requirements of the sets.
Fricka looked (sic!) Wagnarian and sang thus too... (Stephany Blythe)
Rest of the cast fell in to their roles quite easily with Loge (Croft) slightly disappointing.
The Orchestra and Levinne ? Heavier in their approach than the previous production, but SUPERB.
I would still only give it 4 stars, in comparison with the greats I have already mentioned, and some others that Wagner lovers like me would easily support

Bellini: La Sonnambula [Alaimo/Gutierrez, ] [Dynamic: 55616] [Blu-ray]
Bellini: La Sonnambula [Alaimo/Gutierrez, ] [Dynamic: 55616] [Blu-ray]
Dvd ~ Alaimo
Price: £22.90

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At Last.. a traditional, well performed rendition, 16 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Well, at last we have a rendition in HD and Blu ray of a delightful opera without 'harming' it like the one with Florez and Dessay in the MET. Those two sang superbly, but the absurdity of the staging ruined it all.

Here we are IN the places, period and the general mood for which the opera was first conceived, without contriving to forward it to the 21st century... minimalism, symbolism and all that trash.

Having got that bit off my chest, let me add that the sets are beeauutiful, lights, clarity and the audio are simply superb and does the blu ray disc justice.

This is my first experience of the star of this production, Eglise Gutierrez. Although her stage presence and acting is a bit bland, her voice... I could only say OMG!!! A new lyric/colouratura to follow for a long time to come. It is a very different timbre from most other singers of her genre. Kudos. Another dark voiced Diva in the making.

Simone Alaimo as the Count appears bored at times in this role, but I can't fault his singing at all. The other ladies, the pretty Sandra Pastrana as a superb Lisa and Gabriella Collecchia as Teresa do their bit quite tidily.

Now for the Tenor. Antonino Seragusa. When he sings softly, he sounds rich and very impressive. But the moment he raises either his volume or the octave....hmmmm well, is a little too nasal and rather strained.

The orchestra and the conducting from a slightly muddy start acquit themselves well, and the good recording helps a lot. The chorus is as good as it should be.

Definitely a good buy. I would recommend it.

John Adams: Nixon in China [Blu-ray] [2011] [DVD] [2013]
John Adams: Nixon in China [Blu-ray] [2011] [DVD] [2013]
Dvd ~ James Maddalena
Price: £13.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 5 Star performance of a 3 star Opera., 13 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Dont be fooled for a moment when some of those associated with this work deem it a 'Masterpiece' alongside Verdi and Strauss as the interviews within this disc propound.It certainly is not in that class.

The form and format of the music is very repetitive and sometimes very monotonous in its style. You keep hearing the same approach and rhythms too many times.
But I must add here, that the rendition, singing, choreography, videography, recording and post production touches are simply Brilliant.

The beginning and much of the First Act seems fresh and there is a lot happening in the dramatization and staging, but has a tendency to fall away, especially in the solos and monologues that tend to be more like soleloquies.

The Second Act, especially the Ballet with Kissinger thrown in and Mrs Mao's coloratura are definitely the brilliant redeeming features of this Opera.

The Third Act, especially for a first time listener is terribly disjointed thematically, and frankly gets trying first, and boring later. Looks like modernism for the sake of it...

All in all, the brilliant parts of the first and second acts as 'highlights' of this opera will be watched again and again over the years, but as a whole, I doubt if this will feature in a top ten list of American Operas even.

Hobson's Choice [DVD] [2006]
Hobson's Choice [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Paul Reade

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for Snobs, 25 Jun 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Hobson's Choice [DVD] [2006] (DVD)
A beautiful 'pick-me-up' piece for lovers of Ballet, unless you are one of those snobs.

Very lighthearted music, something of a cross between a bit of Sullivan and Disney or Rogers Hammerstein stuff where I almost expected Dick Van Dyke to come sneaking in. Very few dull moments, but rather predictable British-Scottish type musically, and offers no surprises.

The choreography and dancing are really superb, and so is the cinematography. Most of the time there is a lot going on stage, and is quite racy. The dances have been tailored to suit mostly any good dance company without too many pyrotechnics. It is an ideal 100 minutes for introduction of Ballet to youngsters and kids, and a whole load of fun reminiscent of Royal Ballet Production of La Fille Mal Gardee in its approach.

For an old video, it is quite clear, and the music recording of the highest quality obtainable then. I would not be surprised to find a blu ray release of this shortly, but for now, this will be quite OK.

Yes... Buy it.

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker/ The Mouse King (Arthaus Musik: 108054) [Blu-ray] [2012][Region Free]
Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker/ The Mouse King (Arthaus Musik: 108054) [Blu-ray] [2012][Region Free]
Dvd ~ Anna Tsygankova
Price: £29.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A refreshing new Nutcracker, 25 April 2013
What makes this production stand out among the more opulent and better known Nutcrackers like the ROH or Bolshoi, not to mention countless others is a refreshingly new approach and choreography without having to resort to modern minimalistic settings, psychology, or cheap contemporary political references like the totally disgusting one conducted by Barenboim that features a bunch of Arabs giving nightmares to Clara instead of the Mouseking. It is very traditional, although the geographical location has been shifted 500 miles to the north into Netherlands, which is very very acceptable since they have not screwed around with the plot (true to the original in many ways), settings (opulent) and of course, the dances.

But let me make this clear. It would have got only 4 stars from me rather than 5 just owing to two reasons that are very striking.

1. The handling of the Music.
I first noticed Ermanno Florio as a conductor around 10 years ago conducting Don Quixote in the Paris production with Ariel Dupont/Manuel Legris that won the 2004 Cannes Music Award for Outstanding Classical Program in the Performing Arts. Then ofcourse, there is the Le Corsaire which won the Emmy. Of this, Don Quixote is still considered by me as the best conducted work of this piece. Unparalleled. Florio has done this again here, in one of the very best if not the best reading of Nutcracker that I have ever heard. It is ALSO the BEST RECORDED for a DVD/Blu ray, audio recording-wise. Both together make this not only a visual, but an audio extravaganza that betters all the present Nutcrackers going around. Yes, the pas de deux in the second act is a little slower and more measured than all others I am familiar with, but has its own beauty being interpreted this way.

2. Little Clara Big Clara
The twelve year old who dances little Clara (Amalja Yuno) for almost all of the first Act till the dream comes on and grows up to be Tsygankova. Her acting, dancing are great for her age. But her sheer emotiveness can give a run for the money of most of the big big ballerinas. Totally enchanting. The concept of Clara growing up in the dream is just spot on as an ingredient to this version.

These two points swing the rating according to me to 5 stars.

As far as the reworked plot is concerned, I am not really in a position to understand why the Mouse King just lets Nutcracker get away (Clara hitting the Mouseking with the slipper is avoided here) after routing his army and snatching away his sword. It is beyond me. Then he has to appear again in the Act II to just get killed in a duel. Just doesn't jell well in the plot. Maybe I have not understood something about this irrationality.
As far as the re-choreographed dances in the second act go, well, they are quite different, pleasant but many reflect on the lack of real bench-strength in the Dutch ballet, although the dancers were dancing well to their capabilities.

All in all, a refreshingly good, well performed Nutcracker that does the Dutch proud. Buy it.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 20, 2013 1:29 AM GMT

Braunfels: The Birds (Die Vogel/ The Birds) [Blu-ray] [2010]
Braunfels: The Birds (Die Vogel/ The Birds) [Blu-ray] [2010]
Dvd ~ Désirée Rancatore
Price: £29.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant Surprise, 30 Mar 2013
Keris Nine before me has written (as usual) a very nice review about the work, and I endorse his opinions fully.

If this blu ray disc hadnt come out, I would never have had the opportunity of discovering such a wonderful piece. I was expecting a totally a-tonal pretentious neo-something kind of a piece. It was at a friend's house that I heard some rushes from it. I was floored.

I am writing this specifically because there would be many others like me, expecting something totally different, not even wishing to give it a try. Let me tell you, I think you would be as pleasantly surprised as I was. After the similar surprise I got years ago listening to Janecek's Vixen, this truly is an experience worthwhile treasuring for any lover of Opera, especially late Romantic type.

Buy it.

Tutto Verdi: The Complete Operas Highlights (Various Artists) (C Major: 725704) [Blu-ray] [2012]
Tutto Verdi: The Complete Operas Highlights (Various Artists) (C Major: 725704) [Blu-ray] [2012]
Dvd ~ Various Artists
Price: £9.99

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent... This is the way to market.. We pay for the ad LOL, 4 Mar 2013
A fellow reviewer Ultrarunner has taken the trouble of cataloguing each and every piece for our benefit. So I will not go into those specifics.

This is an excellent Blu ray that not only does its job of advertising 20 operas of Verdi, but goes beyond the usual familiar highlights that companies use to market their wares. I am glad to pay for this, and being rather inexpensive by standards, I think I get my value for money.

This disc is useful to many a listener like me who sometimes like to enjoy a potpourri of works and individual gems from various operas of a single composer. These give a decent indication of what to expect in terms of sets, orchestra, singers and approach to the operas of Verdi ... And what a varied fare it is. It has also encouraged me to buy 3 discs from them and I know I can leave out a few - especially those like Aida that require a theater much larger than Palma and Busseto.

The renditions are carefully chosen and this is the type of blu ray that I would like to see more of.

It gives me a whole evening of wholesome entertainment without getting too involved in the music, at the same time enjoying variety.

Buy it.

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