Operatunity (2003)

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Released 21-Apr-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Documentary Main Menu Audio
Bonus Episode-The Winners Story
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 251:56 (Case: 303)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (32:32)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Michael Waldman
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Paul Daniel
Karen Gillingham
Mary King
Anthony Legge
Philip Traugott
Mike Wood
Ollie Green
Case Amaray-Transparent-S/C-Dual
RPI $39.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles None Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    So, have you ever watched Pop Stars, The X Factor, Australian Idol, Starsearch or any of the other myriad of similar shows and wondered what such a show would be like done with a bit more class? You know with supportive judges, no need to ring or SMS for your favourite performer, real people rather than jumped-up twerps, no commercial television style stunts like changing the rules part-way through and real emotions. Well, you have come to the right place. This TV series, made for Channel 4 in England, is just the thing. It started showing on the ABC here in Australia on March 24, 2005 and will run over the next few weeks. I was lucky enough to receive these review discs of the forthcoming DVD release before the show started its run on television.

    Operatunity follows the English National Opera (which should not be confused with The Royal Opera) as they follow an idea to unearth new Opera talent and make Opera more accessible, starting in 2002. One of the main differences between the two opera companies is that the English National Opera or ENO only sing in English, whereas The Royal Opera performs Operas in their original language. The ENO decided to launch a nationwide search to find people who had no formal Opera experience but who felt they had the skills to perform on stage with the ENO in a performance of Rigoletto, alongside professional performers. In response to their initial request for videotaped auditions they received over 2500 tapes and began the task of sifting through them, looking for people who had something more than 'sing in the shower' ability. From the 2500 tapes they selected 100 who were asked to attend live auditions, which is basically where the series starts. The people asked to audition came from all walks of life including builders, waiters, chefs, recruitment managers, a blind mother of three, students, checkout girls and cabaret singers.

    The episodes included are:

  1. This episode covers the videotape auditions process and then the live auditions where the judges look at the talent on show but also try to quickly ascertain which of the people most readily respond to instruction and criticism. The judges need to cut the 100 hopefuls down to a manageable 20 for the next stage. The auditions are held all over Britain and the people are allowed to sing either opera or other genres which makes it difficult for the judges. Eventually the 20 are chosen and 2 runners-up are also asked to attend the next stage. Each of the people who make it through are then asked to learn a specific opera aria, which the judges believe is suited to their voice.(49:39) 
  2. This episode is focused on stage 2 which involves an intensive training weekend for the singers with various members of the ENO staff including the musical director. By the end of this stage the judges want to have only 6 performers left. They train the hopefuls in acting, projection, being bigger than life and singing techniques. They take them for a night at the opera, and then each needs to sing the aria chosen for them in a concert hall for the judges. (49:44)
  3. In this episode the lucky six are given two weeks extra training in which they are pushed out of their comfort zone and actually given parts in small performances where they must act together, rather than competing. It becomes quite taxing on the performers and some start to fray at the edges. At the end of this episode, the hopefuls put on a show for the judges featuring a number of short scenes from various operas giving all of them a chance to shine. Then, the final choice is made. (49:54)
  4. This last extended episode covers the six months of preparation after the choice is made to ensure that the winner is ready to perform on stage with the ENO in a full public production of Verdi's Rigoletto. It is decided that the winner will perform a lead role in Rigoletto rather than the originally planned minor role. Various problems and sickness make the build-up difficult. This episode features approximately 1 hour of the final performance in March 2003, which is incredibly good considering the very short training the winner has had. (102:39) 

    This is a fascinating series, full of real emotion and incredible achievement despite the odds. Great television, and a highly recommended DVD.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video quality is very good with only a few minor flaws, as you would expect from modern television footage.

    The feature is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was clear and sharp throughout, with no evidence of low level noise. There was some light grain from time to time, but it was not really distracting. The shadow detail was very good.

    The colour was generally good, with no issues to report.

    From an artefacts perspective, I noticed some minor aliasing here and there on the usual suspects such as heater grilles, Venetian blinds and lights. There was also some mild macro-blocking on large expanses of coloured background, but certainly not enough to really bother you.

    There are no subtitles.

    The layer change on Disc 1 occurs at 32:32 in episode 2, causing a slight pause. It was at 84:46 in episode 4 on Disc 2 and again was not particularly noticeable.
    

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

Audio

    The audio quality is very good.

    This DVD contains an English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo soundtrack encoded at 224 Kb/s. The singing and music comes across well but don't expect the sound quality of your favourite opera recording. This is good quality television sound rather than the sound quality achieved in studios or from professionally recorded performances. Having said that the sound quality certainly enables the casual listener to tell the difference between the best of the contestants and the rest.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer are not used.

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

Extras

Menu

    The menu includes stills, music, and the ability to select episodes or scenes individually.

Operatunity : The Winners' Story (50:00)

    (SPOILER ALERT: highlight with mouse to read) This extra episode covers the lives of the two winners from the day after their joint performance as Gilda in Rigoletto, through the feelings of let down when they are not immediately snatched up by every opera company in the world and then the slow build up of concerts and finally the recording of a joint CD. An excellent addition to the DVD set and definitely worth watching.

R4 vs R1

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

    This set is available in Region 2 in the same format, although this set is coded for all regions.

Summary

    An excellent television series which follows a search for untrained people who have the skills and desire to perform with the English National Opera.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    The disc has a bonus episode which tells the story of the winners after the initial performance.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, April 01, 2005
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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