Renée Fleming (DVD-Audio) (1999) (NTSC)

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Released 1-Apr-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Classical Booklet
Gallery-Photo
Discography-Catalogue
Credits
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 64:52
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By None Given
Studio
Distributor
Decca
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Renée Fleming
Case DVD-Audio Jewel
RPI ? Music Giacomo Puccini
Jules Massenet
Giuseppe Verdi


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Audio MLP 48/20 2.0
Audio MLP 48/24 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Renée Fleming is an American soprano hailing from Pennsylvania, the daughter of voice teachers. Initially taking up a career as a jazz singer, she chose instead to study classical voice at the famous Juilliard school. Initially a star of the New York Metropolitan opera, she has sung widely around the world. Her singing and acting ability coupled with a pleasant appearance have been instrumental in her rise to international stardom.

    The present release is a re-release of a CD from 1999, now in high resolution sound. It sees her in a selection of popular arias from the Italian and French repertoire, most in the grand 19th Century tradition.

    Fourteen items are contained on the disc, from the Italian and French repertoire and all in the grand 19th Century tradition. The disc opens with four famous arias by Puccini, then one each by Leoncavallo, Cilea and Catalani. The French works are two by Massenet from Manon and single pieces by Bizet, Berlioz and Gounod. The recital is rounded out with two pieces by Verdi and one by Bellini. The performances are all with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and are conducted by Australia's own Sir Charles Mackerras.

    Fleming's soprano was described as "double-cream" by Sir Georg Solti, but what he failed to mention was her wide vibrato, instantly noticeable on the opening track. I found this a little disturbing, for example on the first bello in O mio babbino caro. Fleming seems unable to hold a sustained note with a minimum of vibrato, and tends to slide between notes too often for my tastes. However, she is still quite talented and successful and has built up a devoted following. Perhaps the lack of quality sopranos in the great 19th Century operas at the present time is a factor in her success. It remains to be seen whether her recorded legacy stands the test of time once she has left the operatic and recital stage (which won't be for some time yet). Her devotees will be amply rewarded with this well recorded disc.

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Track Listing

1. O mio babbino caro
2. Un bel di vedremo
3. Quando me n'vo
4. Signore, ascolta!
5. Stridono lassu
6. Io son l'umile ancella
7. Ebben? ...Ne andro lontana
8. Je Suis encor tout etourdie
9. Adieu, notre petite table
10. Je dis que rien ne m'epouvante
11. Ah! Je veux vivre
12. Come in quest'ora bruna
13. Casta diva
14. Merci, jeunes amies

Transfer Quality

Video

    The video is a series of 7 still photos of Fleming, changed on each track so that each is played twice. The video format is NTSC.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three audio tracks on this disc, and I listened to them all.

    For those with DVD-Audio capability, the default audio track is a DVD-Audio only MLP 48kHz/24 bit 5.1 track, described incorrectly on the back cover as 44.1kHz/16 bit. There is an alternative DVD-Audio only MLP 48kHz/20 bit 2.0 track   Also on this disc is a DVD-Video compatible Dolby Digital 5.1 track at 448 kb/s, but this cannot be selected from any menu on the disc as far as I can tell. I could only access this track by using a different player without DVD-Audio capability.

    All of the audio tracks on this disc sound very good, even though the added resolution does not seem to be much more than that of a CD. The DVD-Audio 5.1 track has most of the soundstage across the front channels, with the rear channels being used for ambient sound, to give the reverberation of the recording venue (The Colosseum in Watford, England), thus placing the listener in the audience rather than in the middle of the players. The DVD-Video track has more of the voice and the orchestra coming from the rear channels, as if the listener was placed right at the front of the orchestra, though this is not a convincing audio experience. While an LFE channel is present, I found virtually all of the bass was directed to the main speakers, and not much to the subwoofer. In Un bel di vedromo, on both the surround tracks I noticed a low background rumble throughout, also present on the 2.0 track but less noticeable, and this rumble was to be heard even if I switched the subwoofer off.

    I found the DVD-Audio 2.0 track slightly better than the other tracks. There seemed to be a richer bass sound, much more focused than the other tracks, and the soundstage seemed much firmer. But perhaps I am just used to two-channel music.

    I also compared the recordings on this disc to the original CD incarnation. The DVD-Audio 2.0 version sounded slightly more detailed and slightly richer, but there was not much in it to be honest. Perhaps the orchestra and the acoustic sounded just that bit more realistic. The big drum beat in Un bel di vedromo sounds fairly awesome even in the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. I think that if you are an audiophile fan of Renée Fleming, you will want to fork out the extra money for the higher resolution material, but if not and you have the CD, then only if the surround mix sounds exciting would it be worth upgrading.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The gallery and catalogue are only available on DVD-Audio compatible players. On DVD-Video only players, the track selection menu is the default menu.

Booklet

    A 24 page booklet is included. This includes full texts of the works on the disc in the original language and an English translation for each. There are a number of glamour shots of the singer, all taken from right profile. A photo of Sir Charles Mackerras is also included, as is two pages of gushing prose by Albert Innaurato.

Photo Gallery

    7 stills which are the same as those shown while the audio tracks are playing.

Catalogue

    Each of the items listed in the catalogue section has an option to play an excerpt from that disc lasting about 2 minutes or so. The Verdi Requiem is a DVD-Audio excerpt. The DVD-Video selections from Renée Fleming and Renée and Bryn Under the Stars have video extracts and these are not 16x9 enhanced. In the latter, the duo perform the entire Merry Widow waltz. The remaining three extracts are from CDs and are audio only, with the cover of the album displayed on screen.

Credits

    DVD production credits over three pages.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc is designed for release in all regions. As far as I can tell, the disc is the same everywhere.

Summary

    A nicely put together package, this will be pleasing to fans of the singer. The audio is first-rate.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

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