The Art of Singing-Golden Voices of the Century (1996)
|Year Of Production||1996|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Donald Sturrock|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
What you will see and hear is a quality of vocal talent that is unexcelled to this day. Forget the overrated hacks collectively known as The Three Tenors: here you will find the real Three Tenors that the overrated hacks can only wish they could approach in ability. Add into the mix perhaps the greatest bass of all time, one of the greatest baritones of all time and some of the greatest sopranos of all time, and this oozes musical quality from start to finish - literally, for the talent on display here comprises:
The music may be somewhat eclectic, as might the origin of the vision being watched, but there is nothing wrong with the quality of the vocal talent on display here. This is superb stuff indeed and anyone with a passing interest in singing should just get a hold of this DVD. Brilliant stuff indeed.
The transfer is presented Full Frame and is not 16x9 enhanced.
Obviously, with the extracts coming from a variety of sources and a variety of eras, there is a significant disparity in the quality of the visual aspects of the transfer. However, in general, the older the source material, the better it looks! Some of the material is sadly lacking in really decent definition and detail, most especially the extracts for Maria Callas, but overall this was still a lot better than I was expecting - especially the pre-1935 sourced material. The clarity of the more recent material is a concern, especially the clip of Jussi Bjorling and Renata Tebaldi, amongst a couple of others, as it looks as if the camera lens has not been cleaned since the birth of the film industry, which is rather distracting at times. Some of the earlier clips, on the other hand, are actually a lot clearer than expected. Compounding the problem with the Jussi Bjorling clip is the fact that it suffers quite extensively from grain, although this is the only one to to do so. There does not seem to be any problems with low level noise in the transfer. Overall, the quality here is somewhat better than I was expecting, especially for the pre-1935 material.
Whilst most of the clips are in black and white, the interview material is generally in colour as are a few of the clips, notably that of Ezio Pinza and of Jon Vickers. Funnily enough, the latter is the most recent clip (1974), but is quite possibly the worst looking effort of all on offer! The clip of Ezio Pinza is a little ropey in the colours and really looks pretty poor for such a relatively recent film extract: there is no naturalness to the colours here at all. The black and white on offer is quite varied and unfortunately does on occasions descend into the murky grey tones that we all know and generally hate. However, a few clips are really very good and have a decent depth of black and white to them that helps to relieve the program a little. The colour interview material is generally very nice, quite natural looking and without a trace of oversaturation or colour bleed, but I would not describe this as a vibrant transfer.
There are no apparent MPEG artefacts in the transfer. There were no real problems with film-to-video artefacts in the transfer. Film artefacts were variable in their prominence with one or two clips being especially plagued with the problem, most notably the clips for Magda Olivero, which does detract a little from the enjoyment. The problems are all source-related and in general there is little to fault the actual transfer over.
The subtitles on the DVD do not provide any lyrics to the songs but rather provide a translation of the interview material predominantly from Magda Olivero, which is in Italian. Accordingly, it is a bit disconcerting that the subtitles default to off rather than with the English subtitles on.
There two audio tracks on the DVD, being an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack and a French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack. Since the lyrics are sung in the language they were written in, the soundtrack choice is only applicable to the narration and interview material. That being the case, I stuck with the English soundtrack.
Dialogue and vocals were reasonably clear and reasonably easy to understand.
There did not appear to be any really serious problems with audio sync in the transfer, although naturally enough some of the earlier material was not exactly in sync. This is not a DVD mastering problem but is the result of inherent problems with the source material I would suspect. The music itself obviously comes from a rather diverse range of composers, although most are certainly giants in the field of opera.
The main problem with the soundtrack is the fact that there is a fair degree of background hiss to some of the music. However, if you are used to CD recordings of the early 1930s and earlier, the hiss is not any worse than what you are used to. Whilst it could perhaps have been better, and I would hazard a guess that had the original been remastered more recently it certainly would have been better, I have to say that even in the case of the rather old recordings of Enrico Caruso I have heard far, far worse on CD. It is also important to remember to balance the quality of the sound with the comparative rarity of some of the material on offer here. Overall, I am happy enough with the quality, but don't come to this DVD expecting brilliant definition. This is real mono with thankfully no attempt to tweak it into false stereo, and therefore the sound is very frontal. It is a little congested at times, and really could have benefited from a bit more air. At its best there is ample scope to convey the majesty of the voices on offer and even when there is not, some of those voices shine anyway. I would rate this as a good soundtrack overall, despite its faults.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
A good video transfer of some aged material.
A good audio transfer of some aged material.
An extras package that should have been so much more.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|