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Bruno Mantovani: Siddharta [Susanna Mälkki] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: PCM 2.0 (48kHz/24-bit), DTS-HD Master Audio (96kHz/24-bit)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Arthaus Musik
  • Blu-ray Release Date: February 22, 2011
  • List Price: $45.98

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Siddharta -

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Overall
[Rating:2.5/5]
The Performance
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]


Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Performance

[Rating:3/5]


French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj has established a reputation for “rethinking” classic repertoire and giving well known pieces a new millennium spin. In this case, he has attempted a new work with the corps de ballet of L’Opera National de Paris. Cutting to the chase, this is an example of good intentions gone bad. The legend of Siddhartha, founder of Buddhism, is well enough known that the outlines of the plot will be familiar to most viewers. So far, so good. However, you can take only so many liberties with the story line before the linearity of the production starts to sink in the west. Siddhartha’s path to enlightenment comes off as a  dreary tale in this production. A significant problem with a lot of modern choreography is that it needs a strong coherent score to maintain momentum. This is clearly not the case with Siddharta which is undermined by Bruno Mantovani’s pedestrian, clangorous  and occasionally abrasive music and by choreography that cribs from classic ballet and then tries to make it moderne expressif.  This is unfortunate as the dancers are an impressive group as a whole and should have had a better vehicle with which to exploit their talent.

Video Quality

[Rating:3/5]

Through no fault of the composer, choreographer, or performers, the persistent darkness of the set seens  a major drawback. Claude Lévêque’s sets which are abstract and stark do not provide much of a backdrop for the dancers.  There are a number of Cirque du Soleil special effects which are mitigated by the sets’ overall dreary atmosphere. Most importantly, the dancers like leads Nicholas Le Riche (Siddharta), Aurélie Dupont (L’Eveil), and Stéphane Bullion (Anande) who are all extremely talented and do their best, given some of the vagaries of the choreography, are not provided a good enough setting to highlight their many skills. The camera yields lot of very distant shots when close ups would have been far more effective, given the abstract nature of the piece.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3/5]

The DTS-Master Audio does not do very much for this production. It is up front with little atmosphere or ambience. Granted, there is no distracting stage noise, but the engagement with listeners is pretty limited. Most will also find the score perplexing at best and periodically grating which would make repeated listening a challenge for all but the most die-hard modern music aficionados.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0/5]

For whatever reason, the entire production team got out of Dodge shortly after this performance was shot. In a new work involving some very non-traditional concepts, any help from the principal dancers, choreographer, director or designer would have been appreciated.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:2.5/5]

From a conceptual standpoint, a ballet based on the life of Siddhartha had a can’t miss quality. So much for the concept of can’t miss. The score is generic “modern” and does little to enhance the overall performance. The choreography is “modern lite” which is unfortunate considering the obvious skills of the corps de ballet. The minimalist sets do not aid the cause and the final camera end shots of an audience that appeared to have voted with its feet suggest that this was an opportunity missed rather than gained. While the French critics lavished praise on this production, I cannot find much here to stoke an enthusiastic reception.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B004GX91S4[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Siddharta -

Purchase Siddharta on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:2.5/5]
The Performance
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

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