Mendelssohn-Midsummer Night's Dream, A (Ballet) (BBC CO/Kershaw) (HD DVD) (1999)

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Released 24-Oct-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Ballet Menu Animation
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 93:42
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Ross Macgibbon
Opus Arte
Select Audio-Visual Distrib
Starring Patricia Barker
Paul Gibson
Seth Belliston
Julie Tobiason
Ross Yearsley
Lisa Apple
Batkhurel Bold
Ariana Lallone
Charles Newton
Kaori Nakamura
Timothy Lynch
Louise Nadeau
Olivier Wevers
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $89.95 Music Felix Mendelssohn

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby TrueHD 2.0
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080i
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

    This HD DVD contains a ballet called A Midsummer Night's Dream, with music by Felix Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn though did not write any such ballet. In 1826 when he was 17 he wrote an overture inspired by Shakespeare's play, and in 1843 he expanded this with a lot more music into a set of pieces which was intended as incidental music to a performance of the play. Even then it is nowhere near the ninety-minute running time of this ballet.

    The ballet in fact dates from 1962 and was created by George Balanchine, a Russian dancer and choreographer who emigrated to the United States and was influential in the development of American ballet. The music was pieced together from a number of compositions, all by Mendelssohn, though the bulk of it is from the incidental music.

    The ballet vaguely follows the story of the original play, and anyone familiar with the play would be able to work out what is happening on stage. Being from the 1960s the ballet is free of post-modernist trappings and is essentially a faithful representation of the play in balletic terms. Costumes and makeup are all idiomatic.

    I would imagine that anyone who likes ballet would enjoy this performance, which comes from the Pacific Northwest Ballet and the BBC Concert Orchestra at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London and was recorded in 1999. It is full of colour and movement and judging by their response, the audience enjoyed it immensely. I can't say that I got much out of it, apart from the pleasant music and the high video quality, but then I'm not a ballet fan.

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Transfer Quality


    The performance was presumably recorded in 1080/60i as it comes in that resolution on this disc. I tried watching part of it upscaled to 1080/60p but did not notice any improvement over the interlaced resolution. The aspect ratio is the original 1.78:1.

    The only significant problem with this transfer is one which occurred in the filming of it, in that often the performers are slightly out of focus. This is something that would be less noticeable on a DVD. Otherwise there is a lot of fine detail. It's hard to concentrate on the detail as there is a lot of movement, both of the dancers and of the cameras, and there are frequent cuts from one shot to another. Regardless of this it is clear that the detail level is vastly superior even to upscaled DVD.

    The colour range on this transfer is excellent, with lifelike tones and clear, vivid hues. Black levels are excellent and there is reasonable detail in shadows.

    There are virtually no video artefacts. Occasionally there was a slightly grainy look to backgrounds, but I doubt whether I would have noticed this if I wasn't looking for it.

    There are no subtitles. The disc appears to be single-layered.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The two audio tracks on this disc are Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD 2.0. I listened to the former in full and sampled the latter.

    The surround mix is geared to the front channels. There is some music coming from the rear channels, but at very low level. Even the applause is mainly from the front channels. There are low frequency effects, which are audible but not intrusive. The stereo mix is not much different from the surround, though to my ears it sounded a little more realistic in terms of the positioning of the instruments.

    The audio has plenty of detail, although it sounds a little boomy and reverberant at first. There is none of the digital edge associated with DVD transfers.

    There is no stage noise whatsoever. I gather that the footfalls of the dancers should be able to be heard, but they were resolutely silent on this disc. There were no issues with audio sync.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Animation

    Some scrolling silhouettes.


    The booklet contains a brief essay about the ballet and a synopsis, repeated in several languages. There is also a detailed cast list and track listing.

Cast Gallery (1:31)

    Photographs of the major cast members identifying them and their characters.

R4 vs R1

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

    This release is the same in all regions. It should also be noted that Opus Arte have announced that they will be releasing this title shortly on region-free Blu-ray in the UK, with other countries likely to follow.


    A very well done ballet.

    The video quality is exceptional.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    Very skimpy in terms of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba HD-A35, using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW60 SXRD projector with 95" screen. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt into HD DVD Player, Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby TrueHD. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationReceiver: Pioneer VSX-AX4ASIS; Power Amplifiers: Elektra Reference (mains), Elektra Theatron (centre/rears)
SpeakersMain: B&W Nautilus 800; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Tannoy Revolution R3; Subwoofer: Richter Thor Mk IV

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