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Gades/Saura: Carmen Ballet [Teatro Real Madrid] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: PCM 2.0, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Teatro Real
  • Blu-ray Release Date: January 31, 2012
  • List Price: $39.99

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B006CAXOAK[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product]B006CAXOAK[/amazon-product]

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Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Performance

[Rating:4.5/5]

Forget what you know about Carmen, Georges Bizet’s opera, and focus on the setting of Spain where the story’s action occurs. This is the concept realized by dance director Antonio Gades and Carlos Saura who transform the Merimee story into a flamenco extravaganza. There is a hypnotic quality about watching two dozen dancers cross the stage with the minimum accompaniment of clapping hands, stamping feet, flamenco guitarists and singers. Those whose only Carmen connection is from the opera will get a fresh feeling about this tale which, perhaps, gets closer to the essence of Carmen than did a French composer writing in another idiom.

The staging is bare and the dancers, with few exceptions, are in everyday attire. No matter, this is magical dancing with no holds barred. The drama is conveyed in an earthy sense and, in this regard, it out-Carmens the original. A story of love gone wrong has never been captured more effectively and inevitably than what we get here.

The authentic flamenco choreography is beyond reproach. Ninety minutes of dance goes by at the speed of light. Watching these beautiful people stamp out a legend is an experience that all viewers should have. The good news is that the video and sound recording engineers had their mojo working and give us an unforgettable experience.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The video recordists have done an excellent job dealing with a dark stage and no formal sets except for occasional background mirrors. Closeup detail is good and there is great camera coverage of the stage itself. While this Blu-ray is not the last word in high definition, the intensity of the drama never flags. If any dance film can make the viewer sweat, this one turns up enough heat to get the job done.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The music is spare and conveyed by authentic flamenco artists. Reduction of the score’s essence to these sonic bare bones heightens its intensity that is unlike most of our ballet-going experiences. The sound engineers have gotten this message and deliver a most realistic portrayal of the theatrical venue. When an audio recording of the Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen opera intrudes, it is nearly superfluous as the Don Jose/Carmen relationship is already a done deal.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]


Teatro Real includes a brief featurette about Carmen, lasting about 12 minutes. It is less than I would have liked in terms of getting at the intent of the ballet’s creator, but since director Gades died eight years ago, it may be as close as we get to the core of this production.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4.5/5]

This production has an immediacy that literally drags viewers into the action. If you have never been to a flamenco show, you have certainly missed a major life experience. The Gades/Saura Carmen will start you on the road to getting there. The flamenco dance form is so old and bound up in so much tradition that even experts in this style are not sure how it got there. Never mind, this watch is so compelling and hypnotic, even dance neophytes won’t care. Please put your dancing shoes on, sit down and enjoy this Carmen.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B006CAXOAK[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product]B006CAXOAK[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4.5/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

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