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Abert "AMY" (Hong Kong)

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Cilea - Adriana Lecouvreur [DVD] [2012]
Cilea - Adriana Lecouvreur [DVD] [2012]
Dvd ~ Jonas Kaufmann, Sir Mark Elder, Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden Angela Gheorghiu
Price: £19.99

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not an at all pleasing work for tenor, and the ladies do not look that well on bluray., 22 Jun. 2012
Sorry to say that I have never liked this work as I did other verismo operas, starting from the days of the recording by Scotto and Domingo.
The entire musical set up is rather boring, despite the gorgeous sets, who chiefly won the three stars that I give to this piece.
Sadly, Jonas Kaufmann has very little 'aria' to sing in this work, and visually he has matured somewhat since his Carmen days at the Royal Opera House. If his stage presence is considered a main selling point, then be prepared for some slight disappointment. His singing is, however, very good, just as his usual high standard, and he is charismatic in this otherwise thankless tenor role. What redeems this set is that Kaufmann made this character 'Maurizio' the Count of Saxony a real 'hero', some thing not even Placido Domingo managed to do in his earlier recording with Scotto. Unfortunately, the role of Saxony sings scantily, so in the 2011 competition for the 'Best operatic singer' (a role by which Kaufmann was nominated)the award went to Christian Gerhaher as Wolfram in Tanhausser.
Angela Gheorghiu is as always good to look at, but here visually as well as vocally, she is past her prime, and as one other reviewer so aptly pointed out, this Adriana is not her role vocally. The same visual fiasco happens to the 'princess' role, sung by the great Olga Borodina.
Both ladies' interactions with Kaufmann are unattractive in the unkind blu-ray high definition picture, if not on stage.
When the music borders on boring, and the lady leads are visually not in best form, it is a bit difficult to sit through the entire show merely because the sets are great.
Fortunately, Herr Kaufmann redeemed an otherwise musically mediocre work.


Verdi: Il Trovatore [Blu-ray] [2012]
Verdi: Il Trovatore [Blu-ray] [2012]
Dvd ~ Sondra Radvanovsky, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Metropolitan Opera, Marco Armiliato Marcelo Alvarez
Price: £21.99

12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Musically and dramatically unbalanced., 22 Jun. 2012
The imbalance is obvious.
We have a stout-voiced, physically burly Leonora in the person of Sondra Radvanovsky, whose acting is stolid and vocal voltage on full-throttled category. With this strength, she suits the roles of the amazons like the valkures rather better than the tragic Verdian heroine.
As the evil Count, Hvorostovsky is perhaps the only suitably casted member, and his reprisal of this role is a welcome treat to opera lovers. The aristocratic and autocratic bearings of DH simply blows other Counts di Luna to the dust.
Unfortunately, the same level could not be said of Marcello Alvarez's Manrico.
Clearly more suited to lyrical roles such as La Boheme, Marcello Alvarez is a sadly under-powered Manrico.
His voice lack the incisivness, and his acting is too reserved for the hot-blooded trovatore. His 'di quella pira' is the most 'lyrical' one could get hold of.
MET is clearly miscasting their major operas' main roles.
Try Marco Berti for the next Manrico, Peter Gelb.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 25, 2012 8:11 AM BST


Verdi: Aida (Arthaus: 108040) [Blu-ray] [2012]
Verdi: Aida (Arthaus: 108040) [Blu-ray] [2012]
Dvd ~ Roberto Tagliavini
Price: £29.25

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sterling cast with a shimmering Hui He in the title role., 22 Jun. 2012
This DVD of Aida is probably one of the most even in terms of singing that one could find on the market, spanning from the days of the great Luciano Pavarotti, given that even Pav in his time did NOT have as good an Aida as one could probably find here in Hui He.
In the major supporting role, Amneris is sung by veteran mezzo-soprano Luciana D'Intino, who reprises this role since the late 1980's with Cheryl Studer as Aida.
While Hui He may not be most verbally incisive Aida, her performance here sets her way above many other lyrical spinto sopranos who have undertaken this role: Maria Chiara, Cheryl Studer, Violetta Urmana, and more lately Sondra Radvanovsky, though not yet recorded.
Hui He's impassioned performance of this role is fully enhanced by her shimmering lirico spinto voice, which is fully lyrical without the slightest edginess that marrs other spinto sopranos like Urmana and Radvanovsky. Yet her timbre is at the same full-bodied and rich throughout all registers, which is a real marvel. Her duet with the veteran D'Intino is the first bit of evidence of her seemingly endless vocal prowess, and her Nile scene culminating in her great rendition of 'O Patri Mia' is outright the greatest rendition heard since the days of Monseratt Caballe who recorded this role for Ricardo Muti in the early 1980's.
Her duet with Amonasro is the third piece of concrete evidence of her fully convincing portrayal of the emotionally torned Aida. The final death scene with Radames on the other hand witnesses her superb lyricism in this role after a full-length emotionally-charged performance of Aida.
As Radames, Marco Berti has all the vocal goods - squillo, pitch and range. He is, however, not as convincing in terms of acting, being a more stolid stage presence than most members of this cast.
As Amonasro, Ambrogio Maestri is very effective, giving a hair-standing duet with Aida.
The sets and costumes are very elegant, if not outright grand.
Zubin Mehta takes veteran reign over the entire show, if a bit on the stolid side.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 30, 2012 5:48 PM GMT


Verdi: Aida (Arthaus: 101598) [DVD] [2012] [NTSC]
Verdi: Aida (Arthaus: 101598) [DVD] [2012] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Roberto Tagliavini
Price: £24.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sterling cast with a shimmering Hui He in the title role., 22 Jun. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This DVD of Aida is probably one of the most even in terms of singing that one could find on the market, spanning from the days of the great Luciano Pavarotti, given that even Pav in his time did NOT have as good an Aida as one could probably find here in Hui He.
In the major supporting role, Amneris is sung by veteran mezzo-soprano Luciana D'Intino, who reprises this role since the late 1980's with Cheryl Studer as Aida.
While Hui He may not be most verbally incisive Aida, her performance here sets her way above many other lyrical spinto sopranos who have undertaken this role: Maria Chiara, Cheryl Studer, Violetta Urmana, and more lately Sondra Radvanovsky, though not yet recorded.
Hui He's impassioned performance of this role is fully enhanced by her shimmering lirico spinto voice, which is fully lyrical without the slightest edginess that marrs other spinto sopranos like Urmana and Radvanovsky. Yet her timbre is at the same full-bodied and rich throughout all registers, which is a real marvel. Her duet with the veteran D'Intino is the first bit of evidence of her seemingly endless vocal prowess, and her Nile scene culminating in her great rendition of 'O Patri Mia' is outright the greatest rendition heard since the days of Monseratt Caballe who recorded this role for Ricardo Muti in the early 1980's.
Her duet with Amonasro is the third piece of concrete evidence of her fully convincing portrayal of the emotionally torned Aida. The final death scene with Radames on the other hand witnesses her superb lyricism in this role after a full-length emotionally-charged performance of Aida.
As Radames, Marco Berti has all the vocal goods - squillo, pitch and range. He is, however, not as convincing in terms of acting, being a more stolid stage presence than most members of this cast.
As Amonasro, Ambrogio Maestri is very effective, giving a hair-standing duet with Aida.
The sets and costumes are very elegant, if not outright grand.
Zubin Mehta takes veteran reign over the entire show, if a bit on the stolid side.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 24, 2012 1:26 PM BST


Rossini: Le Comte Ory [Metropolitan Opera, 2011] [DVD] [2012] [NTSC]
Rossini: Le Comte Ory [Metropolitan Opera, 2011] [DVD] [2012] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Juan Diego Florez
Price: £13.79

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bitingly humorous, and a truly wonderful performance.., 27 April 2012
The story of this opera was set in the time of the Crusades, when all men gone out on military expeditions, leaving only women behind to wail and lament...But then, there is that son of a duke of something, a certain Count of Ory, who is nothing more than a libertine without any scruples...
You can imagine what a outdated background such is for modern viewers!
So this MET production has this 'historical' thing set as a play within a play, just to be a bit more convincing to modern viewers.
Nevermind that - the musical cast is excellent.
I totally disgree that Florez is disappointing in any way - his performance is utterly convincing, and truly terrific. This MET production is his reprisal of Ory's role since his debut at Pesaro more than a decade ago, and he is in excellent vocal form.
Partnering him, the magnificient German coloratura soprano Diana Damrau gave a truly insinuating interpretation of Adele. This Adele is not a medieval simpleton: as a play within a play, this Adele is a feigned virgin, a dressed-up saint. At heart, she wants men - no matter Ory, or cousin Isolier, she wants men for amusement and fun. Damrau is vocally superb in this performance, with her timbre getting fuller and richer since the birth of her son in 2010. It is her acting, however, that is the high point of this production.
Joyce Didonato's Isolier is also a sterling performance, though in a trouser role, she is handicapped by missing out the full stage glamour afforded to Damrau, who looks surprisingly like a young Meryl Streep.
This one even surpasses the earlier Glydebourne performance with the wonderful Annick Massis and Ludovic Tezier.


Madame Butterfly: The Trace of the Butterfly [DVD]
Madame Butterfly: The Trace of the Butterfly [DVD]
Dvd ~ Hui He
Offered by HERO SHOPPER
Price: £16.23

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting documentary, thoughtfully and carefully conceived., 24 April 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a sort of an introductory documentary to Puccini's opera 'Madama Butterfly'.
Since the opera is such a famous work, one wonders why a documentary is still necessary?
Yes, it is! The various persons addressing the audience (in their own respective native languages) testify to the composer's immense success in his conception of this opera - the internal psychology of the characters like Cio Cio San, Pinkerton and Sharpless, the dichotomy of eatern and western culture, the musical and dramatic expressions built in by the composer himself through the sung characters as well as the orchestration...these are all insightful topics that one would likely miss from a mere superficial viewing of a performance.
The documentary is based on a live performance - in the 2003 Puccini Festival production of 'Madama Butterfly' in San Torre del Lago in Tuscany, starring Chinese spinto soprano Hui He as Cio Cio herself, Stefano Secco as Pinketton and Salvadori as Sharpless, Mariella Guarnera as Suzuki. Extensive excerpts from the production, from the actual performance as well as rehearsals, are included in the documentary. Secco and Salvadori gave their respective opinions of their 'roles' in Italain, why Hui He gave her viewpoint on Cio Cio San's character in Putonghua.
The conductor Hewitt gave her profound view of the work as a whole, and the filming is of high quality.


Handel: Tamerlano [DVD] [2010]
Handel: Tamerlano [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Placido Domingo
Price: £29.86

3.0 out of 5 stars Nay, nay, nay., 12 Jan. 2012
This is NOT a great production, no.
Some singers are good - Sara Mingardo as Adronicus owns a beautiful contralto voice, but she got drowned in ensembles and even in solo arias.
Monica Bacelli is a baroque specialist, but the awkward stage direction here turned her Tamerlano into a clownish figure. Her acting, both vocal and physical, could not salvage this innnate setback.
The two lady roles do not fare any better under the same tepid stage direction and humdrum staging.
But all these could have still been fine, but for Placido Domingo's highly erratic Bajazet.
His acting is fine; he sang some arias finely, too, but generally he is simply 'off' - stylistically off, rhythmically off...in many places he simply sings by himself without much regard to Paul McCreesh's musical direction, which is a disastrous phenomenon for a world-class performance.
The other 'male' singer (bass) fared not better, either.
The musical efforts would have paid off much better had the emphases be put more evenly with fuller sets, better props than just on one or two 'star' singers.
For really good Handel performance, you may pass this one.


Mozart: Quintet, K452
Mozart: Quintet, K452
Offered by Presto Classical
Price: £12.75

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Vintage recording by the specialist F. Gulda., 12 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Mozart: Quintet, K452 (Audio CD)
This Gallery edition contains two piano and brass quintets by Mozart (K 452) and Beethoven (Op. 16), both in E flat.
The comparision between these two works composed barely 13-4 years apart is obvious.
Friedrich Gulda conducts the Vienna Philarmonic brass and wind players from the keyboard in this recording. His playing is immaculate, and conducting is equally fine.
Gulda often plays a Borsendorfer in preference over a Steinway, and in such chamber ensemble works the preference is indeed obvious. The pianoforte sound is exceptionally beautiful, played stylishly with enlivened nuances and utter finesse.
The brass and wind players are also exceptional.
For a taste of the authentic Viennese style, look no where else.


Anna Bolena: Wiener Staatsoper (Piḍ) [DVD] [2011] [NTSC]
Anna Bolena: Wiener Staatsoper (Piḍ) [DVD] [2011] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Anna Netrebko
Price: £14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars (-) Good performances; flawed costuming., 5 Jan. 2012
I don't like the costumes in this production - they are historically inaccuate. Who says that Tudor women can show off their long flowing hair? All women of all classes would have worn the basic coif cap or headscarf to remain respectable and modest in the eyes of God (For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. … Corinthians 11:3-16)
Back to business - the performances here rank from excellent to good, with no upsets.
The excellent ones are Elizabeth Kulman and Elina Garanca, two mezzo-sopranos.
The very good ones are Anna Netrebko in the title role, and D'arcangelo as King Henry VIII.
Franceso Meli's Percy is good, though not outstanding, as he could not sing in a consistent tone production, but he never missed a single note, though.
In this production, Anna Netrebko for most people is the main reason for seeing (and listening). She does not disappoint in this production, though Donizetti is never her pet composer.
While her coloratura is never as accomplished as Garanca, her vocal portrayal of Anna Bolena is still very convincing. Vocally, Netrebko is in top form here - her voice rings forth with differing expressions, and the taxing role poses no difficulty to her. Indeed, her performance here makes you forget that she missed out most of the coloraturas, because it is convincingly done.
D'arcangelo lacks the kingly attributes required of the role both visually and vocally, alas. But his singing is still very good, if not outright brilliant.
The outstanding performances here belongs to Garanca and Kulman, undoubtedly.
Garanca is fully at home in bel canto, and this Seymour is a role that she's grown up in. And we can see that clearly. If she converts her fach to soprano, the chances are she will be even better than Anna Netrebko.
Kulman in the lessor trouser role is not only convincing - she is the most affectingly portrayed character in the entire cast, if her role is but a small one.
Buy this for the three ladies. You'd not be disappointed.


Hochzeit Des Figaro [DVD] [2011] [NTSC]
Hochzeit Des Figaro [DVD] [2011] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Diana Damrau
Price: £29.99

10 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two great lead performers with outstanding supports., 28 Dec. 2011
We have all seen and heard numerous versions of Mozart's beloved 'Le Nozze di Figaro'.
Well, some say that this version is badly conducted, and not vivaciously directed.
Let me assure you that none of those justify this recorded live performance made at La Scala in 2006.
The conducting is certainly not in the league as Boehm or Karajan or Haitinck, but not a jot less than Daniel Barenboim, or Harnoncourt, for that matter (compare the 2006 Salzburg version).
The sets are very beautiful, and the production is both fine and neat.
But what weighs this performance most favourably is the performances of the major characters.
D'arcangelo is probably the best Figaro since Hermann Prey, and Diana Damrau the best Susanna since Lucia Popp (she is even better than Barbara Bonney).
In the second tier, Spagnoli and Talamanca are both adequate as Count and Countess Almaviva, if not more outstanding than their other counterparts and predecessors.
While some people fuelled at Monica Bacelli's Cherubino, I do not feel the same - she is appropriately boyish both vocally and physically, even if you would not like the close-ups (which people in the house would normally not notice unless watching with binoculars).
The supporting roles are GREAT - Jeannette Fischer's Marcellina is simply memorable, and in the solo aria in the last Act, she is vocally outstanding, so is her opening duet with Damrau's Susanna, in fact one of the best duets of the entire performance.
I do find this a much much better performance in nearly all respects than its 2006 Salzburg contemproary.


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