Main Menu Animation
|Running Time||173:05 minutes|
|Start Up||Language Selection, then Menu|
Kjell Magnus Sandve
Choir of Cologne City Opera
Gurzenich Orchester Cologne
|Case||Super Jewel Case|
|RPI||?$79.95||Music||Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||Audio (Linear PCM 48/16 2.0, 1536
Audio (Dolby Digital 2.0, 192 Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||No|
|Theatrical Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
Suffice it to say, the broad synopsis of this opera is centred around its titular character: Don Giovanni. Don Giovanni is a womanizer of the highest order who uses his power and standing to seduce women of all sorts. The opera starts with his seduction of Donna Anna, who mistakenly thinks he is her beloved in Don Ottavio. Realizing she has been tricked into forfeiting her virginity, she pursues the fleeing Don Giovanni whilst screaming for help. After struggling with the deceiver, her father the Commendatore emerges to render assistance, only to be murdered by Don Giovanni, who departs the scene with his ever-suffering servant Leporello. Donna Anna returns to the scene with her beloved Don Ottavio to find her dead father and is distraught, pleading with Don Ottavio to swear to avenge her father's murder. Arriving on the scene is Donna Elvira, hell bent on revenge against Don Giovanni after the wrongs he has done to her, and willing to spread the sordid details of the way he operates to all and sundry. The scene changes to a party near the house of Don Giovanni where the newly-weds Masetto and Zerlina are celebrating, at least until Don Giovanni turns up and seduces the beautiful Zerlina. Donna Elvira turns up too to denounce Don Giovanni and Donna Anna is there to realize that Don Giovanni is the one who violated her and murdered her father. Basically, the rest of the opera is all about the hunt for Don Giovanni and his eventual descent into hell for failing to repent.
Moving right along with the comparisons to the earlier DVD, I have to say that I find the casting here of a much more consistent standard, such that no one role really stands out from the rest. It does have to be said, though, that Thomas Allen and Carol Vaness do star in one of the better recordings of Don Giovanni on compact disc and coincidentally that was recorded with the Glyndebourne forces! They are perhaps the best of the strongish cast here. But while the vocal cast might be stronger here, there is little doubt that the musical side of things is much better on the earlier DVD, and the Cologne forces simply cannot compare with The Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment. There is also the distinctly different styles of the two productions to be considered: this is a slightly more traditional approach to the opera, with sets and period costumes, as opposed to the minimalist approach of the earlier DVD. Which is better? Actually, neither as both presentations have some deal of merit, and the choice is definitely one that only you can make.
Whilst the overall presentation is a little better here than on the earlier Arthaus Musik DVDs reviewed, it has to be said that this is showing the nine years of the source material and the overall transfer is the worst of the three Arthaus DVDs through my player for review thus far. Whilst I find much to enjoy in the earlier Glyndebourne Festival Opera - Don Giovanni, from a purely operatic point of view I find this to be an overall stronger effort. Now if only the transfer could have been anywhere near as good!
The transfer is presented in a full frame format and is not 16x9 enhanced.
The first problem with the transfer is the sheer inconsistency of it. Whilst at times this is a sharp and quite detailed transfer, the bulk of the transfer and especially Act 2 is plagued with a slightly diffuse image with detail varying from acceptable to poor. Compounding this is the odd lapse in focus, too. Shadow detail is also inconsistent, but the darker scenes of Act 2 are not good at all, and the result is a very dark look to the opera with little in the way of shadow detail. The age of the source material is well demonstrated by the fact that this is not an especially clear transfer either, which really does not help the detail at all, and grain does at times seem to be a mild issue. However, the really big problem for me is that the second half of the opera is plagued by some mild, but very noticeable, low level noise at times. The most prominent examples are at the 105:30 mark and at the 140:00 mark, but just about any scene showing the backdrop will demonstrate the problem. In general, the transfer before the layer change is much better than the transfer after the layer change.
The overall colour palette is generally quite muted, and really this does do more than hint at undersaturation problems. On a few occasions, the transfer looked a little milky in its colours, and there was a general lack of depth to the blacks that did not aid the visual aspect of the opera. Certainly, the colours are hampered by the rather low level lighting used in the production, but I am guessing that the source material is not demonstrating the actual stage colours as well as perhaps they should be. This really does need to have a distinct boost in the black levels to produce a much more agreeable look to the transfer. As you can guess, this is not what you would call a vibrant transfer. There is certainly no problem with oversaturation here, nor any issue with colour bleed.
There are no dire MPEG artefacts in the transfer, but some of the noise problem indicated may actually be attenuated by some slight pixelization. There is not much of an issue with film-to-video artefacts, and about the only time aliasing is an issue is in the prop sword blades on the odd occasion they come into play. There is a video glitch at 45:28, but I am suspecting that this is an inherent fault in the source material and not a mastering problem. There was no problem with film artefacts in the transfer, which was a little unexpected.
This is an RSDL formatted disc with the layer change coming at 88:52, which is during the brief pause between Act 1 and Act 2. It is of course completely non-disruptive to the flow of the opera as a result.
The subtitle options available on the DVD are the
first I have seen on an Arthaus DVD. In the absence of a full libretto,
I had the English subtitles on and was mildly disturbed by them. Firstly,
they are not really that extensive and I would guess that only about 20%
of the actual vocals are reduced to subtitles. However, the second issue
is the more annoying one: when each new subtitle comes up on the screen,
it is accompanied by a wispy whitish background that results in the lower
portion of the picture having a slightly milky haze over it. It is no big
thing but it just started to bug me a little by the middle of the opera.
I have not seen this sort of problem before on a subtitle option, but then
again it is only rarely that I use the subtitles.
The vocals come up very well in the transfer, and are completely clear and easy to understand, apart from a brief section early in the opera where the main vocal action was directed to the rear of the stage and was not picked up especially well by the microphones. The music is suitably balanced with the vocals throughout the opera. There did not appear to be any problem with audio sync in the transfer.
Sorry if this is getting boring, but there is once
again nothing much to say about the audio side of things on this DVD. Obviously
there is no use of the rear surround channels at all, nor any use of the
bass channel. There does appear to some minor use of the front surround
channels, but overall this sound really seems to be all located out of
the centre channel for most of the opera. The soundtrack sounds good though,
although the microphone placement could have been a little better methinks.
There is no distortion or other inherent problems in the soundtrack. The
brief sampling of the Linear PCM soundtrack indicates no great difference
apart from the slightly more stridently central sound that is to be expected
in this sort of compact disc quality soundtrack.
|Surround Channel Use|
© Ian Morris (have
a laugh, check out the bio)
22nd October 2000
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515; S-video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega 80cm. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in|
|Amplification||Yamaha RXV-795. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|