Woman on the edge

A few weeks ago I reviewed Phillippe Béziat’s documentary traviata et nous, about the making of the 2011 Aix festival La Traviata.  I’ve now had a chance to watch the DVD of the finished product and it’s superb.  Forget those Traviatas in which a star soprano simpers vacuously across an overstuffed set, this is compelling drama.  François Sivadier’s production is dark, dangerous and incredibly moving.  Natalie Dessay’s Violetta is a terrifyingly intense portrait of a woman who knows from the beginning she is dying in “this desert which is known to men as Paris”.  There is no further need for heavy symbolism to remind us of the centrality of death to the piece which makes an interesting contrast with Willy Decker’s famous production.

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Tcherniakov’s Gambler

So I finally found a way of getting the Kultur release of the 2008 Staatsoper unter den Linden production of Prokofiev’s The Gambler to work, with subtitles and all, though I had to go to my back up DVD player.  As you will read below this is a very interesting and worthwhile DVD but whatever you do, don’t buy the Kultur release which is technically wonky and features sub-standard Dolby 2.0 sound.  For heaven’s sake who is doing Dolby 2.0 on an opera DVD in 2008!  The same recording is available on regionless DVD and Blu-ray from C-Major and in that release it features PCM 5.1 and LPCM stereo choices.  There may even be some useful documentation which, as ever with Kultur, is minimal.  There are also more subtitle choices on the C-Major version.

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