Mozart-La Clemenza Di Tito (Langridge, Putnam, London Philharmonic, Davis) (1991) (NTSC)

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Released 8-Feb-2007

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Opera Booklet
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 1991
Running Time 142:34
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (70:16) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Robin Lough
Studio
Distributor

Select Audio-Visual Distrib
Starring Philip Langridge
Diana Montague
Elzbieta Szmytka
Ashley Putnam
Martine Mahé
Case PUSH-11
RPI ? Music Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame Italian Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.29:1
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.29:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles Italian
German
Spanish
English
French
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    La Clemenza di Tito was the final opera begun by Mozart though not the last he completed. He had written most of The Magic Flute when he was given a commission to write an opera to celebrate the coronation of the Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II as King of Bohemia. This was in July 1791, less than six months before the composer's death, and the work allegedly took just 18 days to write.

    The subject is the Roman emperor Tito (Philip Langridge), also known as Titus, son of Vespasian. Vitellia (Ashley Putnam), daughter of the Emperor Vitellius, wants revenge against Tito for spurning her in favour of other potential consorts. The latest choice for Empress is Servilia (Elzbieta Szmytka), sister of Tito's friend Sesto (Diana Montague). Sesto is enamoured of Vitellia and the latter uses this to persuade Sesto to plot against Tito. But then Tito shows his titular clemency when he learns that Servilia loves Annio (Martine Mahé) and releases her with his blessings.

    Unaware that Tito is no longer to marry Servilia, Vitellia persuades Sesto to assassinate the Emperor. But in the smoke and confusion of a fire set by his co-conspirators Sesto kills another. Meanwhile messengers arrive to tell Vitellia that she has been chosen as the new consort. Much confusion ensues, and a death sentence against Sesto twinges Vitellia's conscience.

    If the truth be told, though not everyone would agree with me, this opera is not quite up to the standard of other late Mozart works. While the music is excellent there is a lack of the famous and memorable tunes that each of his previous four works contained. This is probably due to the speed with which it was written. It is also likely that the original recitatives were written by his pupil Süssmayr and indeed they are quite poor compared to those written by Mozart himself for his other stage works. For this production Stephen Oliver was commissioned to write new recitatives, which seem to be an improvement on those I have heard on disc but still do not seem to approach the level of the music.

    That being said this is an excellent performance of the work, deriving from the Glyndebourne production of 1991. Filmed without an audience, the staging has a few oddly shaped and/or angled structures that nevertheless are not anachronistic. The stage is steeply raked providing the director with some nice angles to film against. The costumes are in ancient Roman style and the lighting is subdued. The stage direction seems to follow the requirements of the plot, with no attempt to impose a new interpretation on the text, as is often the case in more recent European productions.

    The singers are all very good with no weak links. Each gets a chance to show off their vocal capabilities, and while perhaps the vocal parts do not give them the sort of dramatic opportunities as in Mozart's previous operas they all seem to make the best of what they are given.

    The opera starts off slowly with a lot of recitative, but as it progresses there is more music and overall it is enjoyable without being top drawer Mozart. I doubt whether anyone would be disappointed with the production on this disc.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The opera is presented in what appears to be the original aspect ratio of 1.29:1 and is of course not 16x9 enhanced.

    Now you might expect a 1991 NTSC video recording of an opera in relatively low light levels to not look very good. You might therefore be pleasantly surprised by this DVD as I was, as in some respects the video looks a lot better than more recent widescreen video recordings. The amount of detail visible is very good though some wide shots are slightly blurry and fuzzy-looking.

    Colour is pleasantly realistic. Flesh tones are very good, as are the costumes which are generally white or red. Dark backgrounds are nice and solid without any visible low level noise.

    There are no film artefacts, this being a video recording. There is some very slight aliasing and some MPEG artefacts, but nothing obvious and certainly nothing distracting.

    Optional English subtitles are provided in clear and well-sized white text. Apart from one spelling mistake ("Cesar" instead of "Caesar") and a closing parenthesis which did not seem to have a corresponding opening parenthesis there were no issues with the subtitles.

    The disc is dual-layered with the layer break ideally placed at 70:16 between the two acts.

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

Audio

    The sole audio track is Linear PCM 2.0 stereo.

    A very good audio track in most respects. The voices and orchestra are generally clear though with the deeper sounds it seems a bit muddy and occasionally slightly boomy. The string section is nicely rendered, as are the brass which have plenty of brightness as well as bite.

    The vocals come across very well. Stereo effects are limited. As the video was shot without an audience, the increased freedom to place the cameras on stage and to use medium shots and close-ups means that the direction from which the voices come does not always match how the singers appear in the frame.

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

Extras

Booklet

    The 28-page booklet contains credits, a track listing, an essay about the opera, a synopsis and a few photographs. The essay and synopsis are repeated in French and German.

R4 vs R1

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

    This production has been released on DVD worldwide. While this latest release comes from Arthaus and seems to have been released everywhere except the US the opera was previously released in Region 1 by Image Entertainment. It contains Dolby Digital 5.0 and Dolby Digital 2.0 tracks, but not the higher resolution Linear PCM track, so I think the new edition  is superior.

Summary

    A fine performance of one of Mozart's last works, though not one of his best.

    The video quality is surprisingly good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    Only a booklet as an extra.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Monday, May 21, 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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