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Theodora [Blu-ray] [2013] [Region Free] [NTSC]

4.5 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, David Daniels, Dawn Upshaw, Richard Croft, William Christie
  • Directors: Peter Sellars
  • Writers: George Frideric Handel
  • Producers: Glyndebourne Festival Opera
  • Format: Colour, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, French, German
  • Region: All Regions (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Warner Classics
  • DVD Release Date: 6 May 2013
  • Run Time: 207 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00CCE6VMI
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 89,966 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

A new production of Handel's tragic opera moving the story from the ancient world to the present day. David Daniels takes the role of Didymus the Roman Soldier whose Christian conscience leads him to risk his life for the noble Theodora. A highly acclaimed production first broadcast on Channel 4.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Until fairly recently, most people would have heard the phrase 'Handel oratorio' and thought, "Ah, Messiah". But there is much more to Handel than Messiah, not least his 40 odd operas most of which have had a decent recording by now, or his many oratorios which are now receiving the same treatment. Even fewer people would have considered staging a Handel oratorio, but at Glyndebourne in 1996 Peter Sellars' production was a sell-out, and the adulation for the team of soloists unsparing. Hence we have this video recording, directed by Sellars himself, and capturing for posterity the dynamism and emotional intensity of this Handelian classic.

The story of Theodora, a Christian martyr of the Roman period (during the reign of Emperor Diocletian), is not a well-known one, but Handel took Thomas Morell's libretto and produced a masterpiece - one ravishing number after another.

The Orchestra of the Age of the Enlightenment under William Christie produces a first rate performance, even in Act 3 which in less assured hands can drag rather, without any significant action to be portrayed. Tempi and conventions are apposite, and the audience sit in stunned silence bemused by the unfolding scenes of Christian virtue and pagan obduracy.

Didymus (David Daniels) the Roman soldier loves Theodora (Dawn Upshaw), a Christian, but is under orders from the President of Antioch (Valens - bass) to persecute all those who will not honour the emperor's birthday. The Roman centurion Septimius (Richard Croft), whose job it is to ensure christian compliance with the pagan festival, is also friend to Didymus and later confronts a conflict of interest when he has to arrest his friend and have him and Theodora executed as Christians.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Definitive Handel from Christie. The performances could hardly be bettered in this intensely moving piece. The notorious Sellars "semaphore" is in action again, but it doesn't intrude, and the updating of the setting is both telling and poignant. Daniels is at his superb best, but the real star is Lorraine Hunt (before she was Lieberson.) The Ferrier/Baker quality of heartbreak is evident in every note, every gesture. Watch it and weep.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Here we have a recording of a performance of Theodora filmed at Glyndebourne in June 1996. Although it is in 4:3 format it has been revamped into a Blu-Ray presentation. Both sound and picture quality are excellent. Some action has been introduced, presumably to relieve the monotony of performers just standing around singing as one might expect to see in an oratorio. The costumes are of a modern style and soldiers, who are mostly never far away, wear battledress and carry an array of scary looking automatic weapons. The choral singing, performed by a chorus clad in modern dress and sometimes sitting and sometimes standing, is an inspiration.

The accompanying notes, written by Peter Sellars, are among the most helpful one is ever likely to encounter. Reading them helps greatly in the appreciation of this work, whose two lead characters are early Christian martyrs and not biblical characters as one might expect in an oratorio. I am so pleased to have these notes, which I find help greatly towards deeper enjoyment of the work itself. Mr. Sellars is equally successful in his direction of this work, which has to be an all time great performance. Sadly, there are some operatic works when one wonders why they are messing around with this and that when they should be 'getting on with it'. There's none of that here. The music and singing just lifts you up and carries you along as if you're being borne through some magical landscape and, when it ends, you say to yourself: 'What a performance! I'll never tire of watching this one!'

Frode Olsen depicts the character of the brutal Roman governor Valens to a tee. He has both the right voice and the demeanour for the part. David Daniels is excellent in the role of hero Didymus, which he sings well.
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By A Customer on 3 Jan. 2001
Format: VHS Tape
This really is a superb example of Glyndbourne innovation at its highest. Fantastic singing (the highlight for me being Lorraine Hunt's "As with Rosy Steps"...magical!!!) from a cast who can (shock!horror!) act as well. Superb direction too - for me, the "risky" treatment really works. I recommend it to blow away those "Handel cobwebs", along with the equally fantastic ENO production of Xerxes.
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Format: DVD
I always think that it was a shame that the cast of this production were not corralled into the studio to produce a CD of this extraordinary collaboration. As it is, we have this DVD of one of the greatest performances of Handel opera or oratorio. The five American leads, Christie, Daniels, Lieberson, Shaw and Croft invest such emotion into their performances that they transcend the usual oratorio setting of Theodora to something more operatic (and one feels they would have accomplished this with a bare stage as well as with Sellars' more abstract staging). Lieberson's performance of Irene is definitive, painfully intense, almost excoriating. I have never heard another performance, baroque or otherwise, like it. Daniels' Didymus is outstanding; it's a rich performance of vocal agility and nuance, which more than established him as the greatest Handelian counter-tenor. His artistry is sublime. Richard Croft, is without a doubt the most adept Handelian tenor, and he catches the intensity from his fellow performers and delivers a beautiful performance as Septimius, especially his Descent kind pity. Dawn Upshaw is very good, but compared to her three fellow cast members, she lacks a bit of their intensity; she seems just a bit reserved even for such a character as Theodora--it's a minor quibble about a stunning production. I always thought Theodora was Handel's minor key masterpiece, but this production makes me think that it might be his greatest vocal work.
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