Overall | Monteverdi-L'Orfeo (Ainsley/Lascarro/Amsterdam/Stubbs) (1997) | Monteverdi-Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria (Rolfe Johnson/Araya/Wilson) (1998) | Monteverdi-L'incoronazione Di Poppea (Haymon/Balleys/Amsterdam/Rousset) (1994) | Monteverdi-Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (ASKO/Porcelijn) (1993)

Monteverdi Cycle (1993)

Monteverdi Cycle (1993) (NTSC)

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Released 28-Mar-2007

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Overall Package

    This is a fine set of the surviving operatic output of Claudio Monteverdi (1567-1643), one of the first composers in this genre and the first great master of the form. Unfortunately only 3 of his 18 operas survive, and they are all included here in this set along with a dramatisation of an operatic scena.

    The other link in the set is that all of the performances come from the Het Muziektheater in Amsterdam and all were directed for the stage by Pierre Audi. As a director he has included fresh elements that, unlike many other modern directors, does not work against the music or the drama. The stagings are intelligent and relatively minimalist, and the singers and orchestra get full opportunity to focus on the musical essentials. A fine set and well worth owning if you like early opera.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Monteverdi-L'Orfeo (Ainsley/Lascarro/Amsterdam/Stubbs) (1997) | Monteverdi-Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria (Rolfe Johnson/Araya/Wilson) (1998) | Monteverdi-L'incoronazione Di Poppea (Haymon/Balleys/Amsterdam/Rousset) (1994) | Monteverdi-Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (ASKO/Porcelijn) (1993)

Monteverdi-L'Orfeo (Ainsley/Lascarro/Amsterdam/Stubbs) (1997)

Monteverdi-L'Orfeo (Ainsley/Lascarro/Amsterdam/Stubbs) (1997) (NTSC)

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Released 9-Jan-2003

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Opera Introduction
Synopsis
Gallery-Photo
Booklet
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 1997
Running Time 120:00 (Case: 140)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Hans Hulscher
Studio
Distributor
BBC Opus Arte
Select Audio-Visual Distrib
Starring John Mark Ainsley
Juanita Lascarro
Brigitte Balleys
Russell Smythe
David Cordier
Michael Chance
Mario Luperi
Case Amaray-Opaque-Dual
RPI ? Music Claudio Monteverdi


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Italian Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Italian dts 5.1 (768Kb/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 German
English
Spanish
French
Italian
Dutch
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    In the late 16th century a group of artists and thinkers based in Italy sought to revive the ancient Greek form of drama, which encompassed not just spoken text but also music, song and dance and in fact all of the arts. This culminated in the 1597 work Dafne by Jacopo Peri, which is now regarded as the first opera. This work has not survived to the present day but Peri's second opera Euridice, based on Ovid's version of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, has. But it is not often revived. Some ten years after Dafne Claudio Monteverdi composed L'Orfeo, based on the same legend, which is still performed to this day.

    The first performance took place on February 25, 1607, when Monteverdi was 39 years old. Much of his sacred and secular work has survived to the present time, but only three of his eighteen operas are still extant. The three theatrical works are included in a new box set from Amsterdam.

    The story would have been reasonably well known to audiences of the day, though of course the early opera performances were held in palaces and villas owned by the rich and aristocratic, with the general population excluded and probably totally unaware of the existence of this new musical form. The story is probably not so well known nowadays, though the Robin Williams film What Dreams May Come was based on it.

    Orfeo and Euridice celebrate their wedding day with much joy, but this is suddenly tempered when news comes that Euridice has been bitten by a serpent and has died. Distraught, Orfeo determines to enter the nether regions and retrieve his love from the clutches of Plutone, God of the Underworld. With Hope to cling to, he seeks passage across the river Styx from Caronte, who repudiates him as he has vowed never to carry a living being in his craft. Orfeo lulls him to sleep with his song and steals his craft to cross into the Underworld.

    Plutone's wife Proserpina prevails on her husband to grant Orfeo's wish, but only on the condition that Orfeo leads Euridice out without once looking back at her.

    The performance on this disc comes from the Het Muziektheater in Amsterdam and has as stage director Pierre Audi. It dates from 1997, and unlike many modern European opera productions this one actually attempts to tell the story and allow the music to express itself without distraction. The setting appears to be in Thrace where much of the story takes place, the settings are generally minimalist and the performers are called upon to act in a fashion consistent with the emotions that the music is seeking to convey. Audi also staged the Ring cycle that is available on DVD from Amsterdam, and that cycle similarly benefits from an approach that takes the needs of the music and drama as its starting point. If only this practice would be followed more generally throughout the operatic world.

    The performers are all first-rate and sing well. John Mark Ainsley looks like he is made up to audition for the title role in The Mummy, with shaven head and a robe that might have inspired the makers of that film. Or possibly not. He sings with conviction as Orfeo and has a nice light tenor voice. Similarly Juanita Lascarro acquits herself well as Euridice. Of note are Mario Luperi as Caronte and Bernarda Fink as Proserpina.

    The orchestra, which does not really have a conductor and is led by musical director Stephen Stubbs, contributes some fine playing on period instruments, starting with the famous and thrilling opening toccata for trumpets. As can be seen in the accompanying featurette some of the instruments are quite obscure today.

    This is quite an enjoyable performance of this very early opera and is well worth investing in, either in its standalone version or as part of the box set.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The aspect ratio of this NTSC video is 1.78:1 and the transfer is 16x9 enhanced. This appears to be how it was shot for television in 1997.

    The transfer is not bad at all. The low level lighting reduces the amount of detail and sharpness on display, but the softness of the light also reduces expectations as to what would be visible anyway. The lighting has a lot of blue in it so colours tend to have a bluish tinge and lack any vibrancy.

    There is a little bit of low level noise visible in the backgrounds, but this is mitigated in some of the Acts with a pool of water in the centre of the action that reflects light onto the back of the stage. There is some posterisation on the smoke that appears when Caronte is on stage. I did not see any aliasing or other significant artefacts. As a video production there are no film artefacts.

    Optional subtitles are provided in several languages. The English subtitles are in a clear white text and are timely and easy to read. There were a couple of minor problems with spelling.

    The opera is somewhat extravagantly laid out on two discs. Disc One is dual-layered but there is no layer change during the performance. Disc Two is single-layered.

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

Audio

    Two audio tracks are provided, being DTS 5.1 and Linear PCM stereo.

    I started out listening to the DTS surround track, but after about twenty minutes found it difficult to listen to and so switched over to the Linear PCM track. The issue was that in remastering the audio for surround the voices now have far too much reverberation around them, totally unlike the orchestra, and the inconsistency between them was too jarring for me. It was as if they were recorded in two different acoustics.

    The rear channels in the surround mix were prominent before the start of the opera, as audience sounds could clearly be heard. Just before the opera commenced the level in these speakers appeared to drop and from this point on they were used to convey the acoustics of the concert hall, with some music and occasional audience noise thrown in. There were a lot of low frequency effects, none so substantial that they stood out but stage noises and some of the music was augmented by additional bass coming from the subwoofer.

    The Linear PCM stereo track had a more natural acoustic, the voices and instruments blending together well and sounding as though they were coming from the same hall. There was a slight edginess to the voices on the higher notes, but the bass sounds were captured and reproduced well. As the orchestra was small individual instruments could be picked out. The trumpets had a pleasing, burnished sound to them.

    There were no issues with audio sync.

    Overall I could not recommend the surround track, but the stereo track is more than a decent substitute for it.

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

Extras

Featurette-Introduction (15:38)

    This is almost certainly the opening quarter hour of the original telecast. It covers some of the background to the opera but mainly concentrates on behind the scenes at rehearsals. Audi is filmed directing the singers in some scenes, and we also get the orchestra leader demonstrating some of the instruments that are used. This documentary starts out in Dutch but most of those featured speak in English. Unfortunately the English subtitles cover both the Dutch and English, rather than having an option for subtitles for the Dutch words alone.

Synopsis (4:29)

    Rather than having a text synopsis, we have a voice-over narration with stills from the video explaining what happens in each Act.

Photo Gallery-Cast Gallery

    Stills of each of the cast members with text identifying them and the characters they play.

Booklet

    The 28-page booklet includes a lengthy essay by the musical director about how the work might have been orchestrated.

R4 vs R1

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

    As usual with opera releases this DVD is identical to those in other regions.

Summary

    A very good opera well performed.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is problematic in surround.

    A few good extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Thursday, August 16, 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.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-AX4ASIS for surrounds, Elektra Reference for mains
SpeakersMain: B&W Nautilus 800; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Tannoy Revolution R3; Subwoofer: Richter Thor Mk IV

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
excellent review -

Overall | Monteverdi-L'Orfeo (Ainsley/Lascarro/Amsterdam/Stubbs) (1997) | Monteverdi-Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria (Rolfe Johnson/Araya/Wilson) (1998) | Monteverdi-L'incoronazione Di Poppea (Haymon/Balleys/Amsterdam/Rousset) (1994) | Monteverdi-Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (ASKO/Porcelijn) (1993)

Monteverdi-Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria (Rolfe Johnson/Araya/Wilson) (1998)

Monteverdi-Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria (Rolfe Johnson/Araya/Wilson) (1998) (NTSC)

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Released

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Opera Booklet
Synopsis
Introduction
Gallery-Photo-Cast
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 1998
Running Time 148:32 (Case: 176)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (60:18)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Hans Hulscher
Studio
Distributor
Opus Arte
Select Audio-Visual Distrib
Starring Anthony Rolfe Johnson
Graciela Araya
Diana Montague
Brian Asawa
Jaco Hujipen
Monica Bacelli
Machteld Baumans
Toby Spence
Christopher Gillett
Mark Tucker
Alexander Oliver
Adrian Thompson
Case Amaray-Opaque-Dual
RPI ? Music Claudio Monteverdi


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Italian Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Italian dts 5.1 (768Kb/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 German
English
Spanish
French
Italian
Dutch
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Monteverdi's second surviving opera dates from his last years, being premiered in 1640 when the composer was 73, a very advanced age for the 17th century. Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria (The return of Ulysses to his homeland) is based on Homer's epic The Odyssey, and deals with the last portion where Ulysses returns home after ten years wandering to his wife and slays the prospective suitors who seek her hand.

    The story unfolds with little in the way of dramatic action and probably seems very static to modern audiences weaned on the melodramatics of 19th century opera. I have seen a production of this same opera conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt (I think, or maybe it was William Christie) which included the various squabbling gods, all of whom are absent from this production. On watching the extras it turns out that the musical director Glen Wilson has trimmed back portions of the opera and rearranged the order of some scenes. While this shortens the work and concentrates on the human aspect of the drama it takes away some of the grandeur that the fuller version contains. His motivation appears to be to remove anything not in Homer and those parts that may not be by Monteverdi, but rather by his collaborators.

    The stage direction, like all of the works in the box set in which this DVD appears, is by Pierre Audi and is staged at the Het Muziektheater in Amsterdam. The staging is spartan, with a few large rocks or some wooden furniture on a fairly bare stage. The acting is well directed, allowing the performers to act out what they are singing.

    The singing is generally good apart from the character Iro. This comical, obese buffoon looks suitably decrepit but the singer seems to have vocal problems, his voice being painful for me to listen to. Otherwise the singing is very good, Diana Montague (Minerva) having a lovely tone and Graciela Araya (Penelope) being impressive, even managing some tears when lamenting her missing husband. He, Ulisse, is played by the veteran Anthony Rolfe Johnson and while his voice sounds a little on the old side he manages to bring some gravitas to the role.

    All in all this is a satisfactory performance of this opera, though it lacks something in comparison to the Harnoncourt version mentioned above. It is considerably shorter as well.

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Transfer Quality

Video

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

    This is a pretty good transfer with nothing serious to complain about. The video quality is helped by often being in medium close-up with dark backgrounds, though occasional low level lighting works against this to a degree. Colour is average due to the lighting, and natural flesh tones are not to be seen most of the time. The video is a little soft.

    There are some minor compression artefacts but these are not distracting. Being a video recording there are no film artefacts.

    Optional English subtitles are displayed in clear white text and are easy to read. In the scene where Ulisse slays the suitors one character refers to him having killed them with arrows, while in the stage action this has been changed to stabbing them with a sword, which is a little confusing.

    Both discs are RSDL-formatted and the layer breaks, which appear at 60:18 and 50:16 respectively, are in natural breaks in the action and are not disruptive.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks on this disc, being Linear PCM 2.0 stereo and DTS 5.1. I listened to the DTS track and sampled the other.

    The DTS track is more natural sounding than that on L'Orfeo from the same source. The voices and orchestra are better blended together and there is a good balance between them most of the time. On a few occasions when the singers faced or moved away from the audience the level of their voices dropped noticeably.

    I noted some harshness and distortion particularly when the voices were louder. This was a problem with both audio tracks.

    The surround channels are used to reproduce the acoustic of the concert hall, with the only directional effects being audience noise. The front soundstage represents the relative position of the singers to the audience, while the television direction makes much use of close-ups and different angles. Therefore what you hear through the speakers is often not consistent with the position of the singers on screen.

    The low frequency effects channel is not much used. Some of the performers footsteps and a couple of very loud thunder effects in Act Two are the only times the subwoofer rumbled into life.

    The DTS track is at a higher volume level than the Linear PCM track. The latter has a slightly rounder and more realistic sound to it, but not by much. The DTS track particularly favours the orchestra, with some very lively flute playing keeping the tweeters, um, tweeting.

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

Extras

Booklet

    The twenty-page booklet includes a three-page essay by the music director explaining and justifying both his excisions and the arrangement of the musical accompaniment.

Synopsis (4:59)

    A spoken synopsis with stills.

Introduction (18:18)

    This appears to be an introduction to the original TV broadcast, and mainly features Pierre Audi rehearsing the singers, plus some interview material as he discusses what he was aiming at. Glen Wilson discusses the cuts he inflicted on the piece.

Cast Gallery

    A series of photographs of the cast members, identifying who they are and the characters they play.

R4 vs R1

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

    This release appears to be identical throughout the known world.

Summary

    A good staging of what's left of the opera after the music director has applied his scissors to it.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    Some useful extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Friday, August 17, 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.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-AX4ASIS for surrounds, Elektra Reference for mains
SpeakersMain: B&W Nautilus 800; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Tannoy Revolution R3; Subwoofer: Richter Thor Mk IV

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Monteverdi-L'Orfeo (Ainsley/Lascarro/Amsterdam/Stubbs) (1997) | Monteverdi-Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria (Rolfe Johnson/Araya/Wilson) (1998) | Monteverdi-L'incoronazione Di Poppea (Haymon/Balleys/Amsterdam/Rousset) (1994) | Monteverdi-Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (ASKO/Porcelijn) (1993)

Monteverdi-L'incoronazione Di Poppea (Haymon/Balleys/Amsterdam/Rousset) (1994)

Monteverdi-L'incoronazione Di Poppea (Haymon/Balleys/Amsterdam/Rousset) (1994) (NTSC)

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Released 26-Feb-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Booklet
Synopsis
Introduction
Gallery-Photo-Cast
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 1994
Running Time 201:47 (Case: 219)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (38:48)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Hans Hulscher
Studio
Distributor
Opus Arte
Select Audio-Visual Distrib
Starring Cynthia Haymon
Brigitte Balleys
Michael Chance
Claron McFadden
Heidi Grant Murphy
Ning Liang
Harry van der Kamp
Jean-Paul Fouchecourt
Dominique Visse
Case Amaray-Opaque-Dual
RPI $79.95 Music Claudio Monteverdi


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Italian Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Italian dts 5.1 (768Kb/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 German
English
Spanish
French
Italian
Dutch
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

    Monteverdi's final opera was first performed in Venice in 1642, the year before his death. Unlike his other surviving operas, and probably most of the operas written up to that time, it is based on real historical events. The libretto was based on the writings of the ancient Roman historian Tacitus and covers the divorce of Emperor Nerone (Nero) from Ottavia in order to marry Poppea.

    The story starts with a disagreement between Virtue and Fortune as to who is the greater. Love appears and claims to be superior to both. Meanwhile in the realm of humans Ottone arrives at his lover Poppea's house to discover Nerone's guards. Realising that he has been betrayed, he turns his attentions to Drusilla. Ottavia, Nerone's wife, also feels betrayed and prevails on Seneca to intervene with the Emperor. This only makes Nerone angry and, prompted by Poppea, condemns Seneca to commit suicide. Ottone then plots with Ottavia to slay Poppea.

    The lack of big, rip-roaring tunes is probably the first thing those used to 19th century opera will notice. The music is more delicate in the early Baroque style and it is intended to convey more sensitive and refined feelings. Few composers could achieve this as well as Monteverdi, even though some doubt has been cast upon the authorship of some of the music in this opera. Certainly Monteverdi was a very old man (75) at the time of this work and would probably have delegated some of the effort to students and assistants, much in the way Renaissance artists would supervise but not always paint all of the strokes on their paintings.

    The performance on this DVD comes from the Het Muziektheater in Amsterdam and, like the other productions in the box set in which it is available, was directed by Pierre Audi. The staging is somewhat more opulent than in the later productions of Monteverdi's earlier operas, though the sets are almost as stark. A bare floor with large stones, a featureless wall or a large sphere are the main elements of the set. The costumes are less minimalist as well, particularly those worn by Poppea's nurse. Audi also attempts to bring out some of the sexual ambiguity of the piece, which is not difficult given some of the female roles are played by men, and the male roles by women (for example Nerone) and there's even some cross-dressing in the plot.

    The performance is universally well acted and sung. I find Brigitte Balleys (Nerone) to have a slightly less pleasing voice than some of the other principals, and her facial contortions seem a bit much. The role was originally intended for a castrato, but as there are few young singers nowadays willing to undertake the necessary surgery it is usually given by a mezzo-soprano or a countertenor. Harry van der Kamp is a fine Seneca and soprano Cynthia Haymon an equally fine Poppea, while Jean-Paul Fouchécourt impresses in the female role of Arnalta.

    I doubt whether anyone would be disappointed with this production, as it is in the spirit of the piece and has an intimate television recording that enables the performers to act not just with their voices and a few crude gestures. It is available separately or as part of a box set of all of Monteverdi's surviving operatic works.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

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

    According to a sticker on the cover this video was recorded in high definition, although it dates from the early days of HD (1994). Judging by the appearance of the video it has that downscaled high definition look to it, and the clarity and sharpness of the image is better than on the other, later recordings included in the same box set.

    The video is quite good though there are problems at some points. Colour is good, with flesh tones looking realistic when the lighting levels are higher. Most of the time they are quite low, as if to mimic the candlelight that would have been used in the first performances back in the 1640s.

    On Disc One I noticed some horizontal banding on the singer's face at 46:55. This seemed to disappear but came back again briefly later. On Disc Two there seems to be a considerable amount of motion blurring and some occasional aliasing. The former can be seen when Seneca is moving about the stage prior to putting an end to himself.

    Otherwise there is some low level noise in the dimly lit backgrounds. This being shot on video, there are no film artefacts.

    Optional subtitles are provided in clear white text and these are easy to read without any spelling or grammatical errors.

    Both discs are RSDL-formatted, and the layer breaks are conveniently placed during natural breaks in the music at 38:48 and 56:55 respectively.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks available, both in the original Italian. I listened to the DTS 5.1 track in full and sampled the Linear PCM stereo track.

    Both tracks are very good with no transfer-related issues apart from the usual digital edge that compression brings. There is a good balance between singers and orchestra. I note though that when the singers turned from facing the audience the volume level dropped substantially.

    The acoustic is quite reverberant, and this is especially clear on the surround track. Directional effects are limited to audience sounds. Most of the music comes from the front channels, with the soundstage emulating the concert hall acoustic with the listener being placed somewhere in the audience. While the voices are heard across the front channels in accordance with their relative position on the stage, the video makes use of close-ups and side shots which often have them on the opposite side of the screen.

    The low frequency effects channel serves to emphasise stage noise, particularly thumping footsteps. Otherwise there is no noticeable subwoofer activity.

    The stereo track has a slightly more pleasing sound to it, more like a CD recording than the surround track in that it is not as forward.

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

Extras

Booklet

    The 28-page booklet includes an essay about the work and the production by musical director Christophe Rousset.

Synopsis (8:15)

    A spoken synopsis with still images from the production.

Introduction (8:40)

    This introduction looks to have been recorded some time after the actual video recording, probably for the DVD release. Pierre Audi and Harry van der Kamp are interviewed.

Photo Gallery-Cast

    Photos of the cast with text identifying them and the characters they play.

R4 vs R1

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

    This Opus Arte release is identical the world over.

Summary

    An excellent performance of this opera, both musically and visually.

    The video quality is good.

    The audio quality is very good.

    A handful of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Monday, August 20, 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.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-AX4ASIS for surrounds, Elektra Reference for mains
SpeakersMain: B&W Nautilus 800; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Tannoy Revolution R3; Subwoofer: Richter Thor Mk IV

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Monteverdi-L'Orfeo (Ainsley/Lascarro/Amsterdam/Stubbs) (1997) | Monteverdi-Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria (Rolfe Johnson/Araya/Wilson) (1998) | Monteverdi-L'incoronazione Di Poppea (Haymon/Balleys/Amsterdam/Rousset) (1994) | Monteverdi-Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (ASKO/Porcelijn) (1993)

Monteverdi-Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (ASKO/Porcelijn) (1993)

Monteverdi-Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda (ASKO/Porcelijn) (1993) (NTSC)

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Released 28-Mar-2007

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Opera Booklet
Introduction
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 1993
Running Time 23:50 (Case: 31)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Rob van den Berg
Studio
Distributor
Opus Arte
Select Audio-Visual Distrib
Starring Lorna Anderson
Maarten Koningsberger
Guy de Mey
Case Amaray-Opaque
RPI Box Music Claudio Monteverdi


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Italian Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Italian dts 5.1 (768Kb/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 German
English
Spanish
French
Italian
Dutch
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda is not an opera as such, but an operatic scena, a brief vocal work in operatic style. In some respects it is an extended madrigal, a form of which Monteverdi was a master. This work only runs about 23 minutes and so it is included in the Monteverdi Cycle box set as an exclusive disc, not available separately.

    The work is based on an epic poem by Torquato Tasso, himself the subject of an opera by Donizetti. The story was inspired by the real-life exploits of Tancred, a crusader who lived at the end of the Eleventh century and who gained the title of Prince of Galilee. The story itself is fictional. Tancredi has met a Muslim woman at a banquet and they fall in love. But they are on opposite sides of the conflict. Clorinda, being a warrior herself, dons armour to join in the ensuing battle. The scena picks up where Tancredi and Clorinda meet on the battlefield, and as both have armour covering their faces they fight to the death, each unaware of who the other is.

    The setting has most of the vocal work done by a narrator, which occasional interjections from Tancredi and Clorinda, who spend most of the time in the background doing battle. This dramatised version is something of a curio, not really recommendable by itself but a useful appendix to the set of Monteverdi's surviving operas. A pity that Arianna's Lament, the only surviving portion of Monteverdi's second opera L'Arianna, could not also have been included. Like the operas, this performance was staged by Pierre Audi and it precedes those, dating from 1993.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The video is not the best, with annoying artefacts in the form of thin horizontal bars that form a sort of film over the image. The video is reasonably sharp, but not as detailed as other releases in this set. Colour is adequate, being compromised by the relatively subdued lighting.

    There is some mild aliasing and low level noise, but no other significant artefacts. Being a video presentation there are no film artefacts.

    Optional subtitles are provided, which translate all of the text. The subtitles are in a clear white text without any grammatical or spelling issues.

    The disc is single-layered.

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

Audio

    There are two audio tracks available, both in the original Italian. I listened to the DTS 5.1 track in full and sampled the Linear PCM stereo track.

    The audio tracks are both excellent. The voices are well captured and the unseen instruments are well defined. There is little in the way of surround activity on the DTS track, and the subwoofer barely grumbles into life. There is a slight digital edge to the audio, less obvious on the Linear PCM track. There are no issues with audio sync.

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

Extras

Booklet

    The four page booklet has some brief text about the work.

Introduction (7:20)

    This introduction, which features interviews with Pierre Audi and Maarten Koningsberger (Tancredi), appears to have been made in about 2003.

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 part of a box set that appears to be the same in every region.

Summary

    An interesting appendix to the Monteverdi Cycle box set.

    The video quality is average.

    The audio quality is very good.

    A couple of minor extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, August 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.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-AX4ASIS for surrounds, Elektra Reference for mains
SpeakersMain: B&W Nautilus 800; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Tannoy Revolution R3; Subwoofer: Richter Thor Mk IV

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