Mozart-Don Giovanni (Mattei, Cachemaille, Mahler Chamber O, Harding) (2002) (NTSC)

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Released 28-Mar-2007

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Opera Booklet
Interviews-Crew-Peter Brook (stage director)
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 157:43 (Case: 174)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (81:13) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Vincent Bataillon
Studio
Distributor
Bel Air DVD
Select Audio-Visual Distrib
Starring Peter Mattei
Gilles Cachemaille
Nathan Berg
Mark Padmore
Alexandra Deshorties
Mireille Delunsch
Lisa Larsson
Gudjon Oskarsson
Case ?
RPI $89.95 Music Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Italian Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles French
English
German
Spanish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Don Giovanni was the second of three Mozart operas to feature a libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte and is in my opinion the best of the three, at least in dramatic terms. The story is based on the legend of Don Juan. The masked Don Giovanni (Peter Mattei) has just ravished the unfortunate Donna Anna (Alexandra Deshorties). Caught after the act by her father the Commendatore (Gudjon Oskarsson), a duel ensues in which Don Giovanni mortally wounds the Commendatore with his sword, or as we see in this performance, a short red stick.

    Donna Anna and her fiancé Don Ottavio (Mark Padmore) swear vengeance on the perpetrator of this foul deed, who they eventually realise is Don Giovanni. Meanwhile our anti-hero has gone on to attempt to steal the charms of the just married Zerlina (Lisa Larsson) from her husband Masetto (Nathan Berg). Another of the Don's conquests Donna Elvira (Mireille Delunsch) has tracked down the betrayer of her morals, though whether she wants revenge or whether she just wants him back seems to vary from moment to moment. In several attempts to avoid punishment for his fiendish crimes Don Giovanni attempts to implicate his trusty manservant Leporello (Gilles Cachemaille).

    As in all of Mozart's best stage works there are showstopper pieces aplenty, the best known being Là ci darem la mano, which Beethoven, Chopin and Liszt used as the basis for works of their own. But generally the music foreshadows the style of the Romantic era, with emotions being evoked by the content of the music. It is brilliantly realised and because of the clear dramatic line of the text the work just seems to fly by. The finale where the doomed Giovanni refuses to repent of his crimes is perhaps the best dramatic scene in all of Mozart's operas.

    This performance was staged in the outdoor Roman amphitheatre at Aix-en-Provence, which apparently has excellent acoustics in addition to frequent gusts of wind. The production is in modern dress, the women in cocktail dresses and the men mostly in lounge suits. The stage direction is by the veteran theatre, opera and film director Peter Brook, and apart from a few strange choices (that red stick) he succeeds in telling the story rather than distracting our attention from it. It's a pity he didn't also direct the video recording, as there are way too many close-ups and medium close-ups, which works against the stage direction. These shots are often shaky due to the use of long lenses.

    The singers are generally very good, though Mattei's Don has a little too much vibrato for my liking. Cachemaille sings well but acting-wise is a less characterful Leporello than some I have seen. The sopranos are all very good. While this might not be a first choice for this opera you could do worse. The 1954 film by Paul Czinner which features conducting by Wilhelm Furtwangler is an interesting historical document though it seems a little staid. The Drottningholm performance suffers visually from the lack of electrical lighting but otherwise is very good indeed. Not available on DVD in Australia is the fine 1979 Joseph Losey film, well cast with Raimondi, van Dam and te Kanawa in the leads. It doesn't have any red sticks though.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video is in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. This would appear to be the original aspect ratio.

    Considering the conditions under which it was filmed the video comes up reasonably well. As with virtually every NTSC opera DVD I have seen the wider shots lose some detail and clarity, while in close-up there is more detail without the video being sharp.

    Colour is variable but I think this is actually due to the lighting. Sometimes the singers have only a little light on them, and at such times faces take on an excessive ruddiness. At other times the lighting is very bright and this washes out colour, especially in the faces. Shadow detail is average at best.

    While backgrounds are very dark I did not see the usual low level noise. There is some edge enhancement visible on the furniture on stage but it is not distracting. Nor is the mild aliasing, which I did not notice after the first half hour or so.

    There are no film artefacts.

    Optional English subtitles are in clear white font. They are well-timed and contained no spelling or grammatical errors.

    There is only one disc, which is RSDL formatted. The layer change occurs between acts at 81:13 and is thus ideally placed.

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

Audio

    The disc contains two audio tracks. The default is Linear PCM 2.0 and the other is Dolby Digital 5.1. I listened to the latter in full and sampled the other.

    The first thing I noticed was the difference in volume between the two tracks. I found a comfortable listening volume for the Linear PCM track was about -24 dB, but to get approximately the same loudness out of the Dolby Digital track I had to crank the amplifier up to -12 dB.

    Apart from this, both audio tracks are excellent. The balance between the singers and orchestra is very good. The singers can be heard clearly without being drowned out by the players, while the orchestra is clear enough for individual instruments to be heard. The double bass has a pleasingly deep and rich sound.

    The surround track is very much a frontal mix. The surrounds have the orchestra at a low level, which I verified by putting my head next to the rear speakers. The only clear sounds from the rear speakers at my normal listening position were coughs from the audience and applause, and even then the bulk of the applause comes from the front speakers. Stereo effects are minimal, which is good considering the nature of the video direction.

    The low frequency effects channel is used with restraint, mainly to emphasise the deeper sounds in the orchestra and not the stage noises.

    Something that may be problematic for some is the sound of the wind in the microphones, with an occasional noise like distant thunder. This is one of the drawbacks of an outdoor arena.

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

Extras

Booklet

    The 32-page booklet features a track list, synopsis and cast, conductor and director biographies in English, French and German. There are also numerous photographs.

Interview with Peter Brook (stage director) (15:21)

    This interview with the director covers his views on the text, the problems of staging it and the conditions that he insisted upon when taking on the assignment to direct. Oddly, the menu forces you to choose French, German or Spanish subtitles for this interview in English. There is no option to watch the interview without subtitles from the disc menu, though it is possible to switch the subtitles off via the remote.

R4 vs R1

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

    This release seems to be identical in all regions.

Summary

    A good performance of this classic opera, though it is possible to imagine it being done better.

    The video quality is average.

    The audio quality is very good.

    One short interview as an extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Monday, May 14, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS9100ES, using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-HS60 LCD Projector projected to 80" screen. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES for surrounds, Elektra Reference power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: B&W Nautilus 800; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Tannoy Revolution R3; Subwoofer: Richter Thor Mk IV

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