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Janacek: Jenufa [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 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Opus Arte
  • Blu-ray Release Date: September 27, 2011
  • List Price: $39.99

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B0055ISAIQ[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product]B0055ISAIQ[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Jenufa (Teatro Real Madrid) -

Purchase Janacek: Jenufa on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]

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:4/5]

Leos Janacek’s Jenufa, by far his most popular opera, bridges the gap between the romanticism of the 19th century and the realism of the 20th century.  The story centers on a young girl, Jenufa (Amanda Roocroft), in love with ne’er-do-well Steva (Nikolai Schukov) whose child she is carrying. Laca (Miroslav Dvorsky), Steva’s brother is madly in love with her but in a jealous drunken rage, slashes her face. Eventually, when it is obvious that Jenufa is pregnant, Kostelnicka (Deborah Polaski), Jenufa’s stepmother and town sacristan provides her a secret haven until her child is born. However, Kostelnicka later tells all concerned that the child has died, while, in fact, she has thrown the baby into the river to drown.  Later, the body of the child is found under the ice. Jenufa is thought to be guilty but Kostelnicka finally confesses and is taken away. Jenufa discovers Laca’s love for her and the couple are united at the opera’s end.

The musicianship, on the parts of the soloists, is uniformly excellent in all of the major roles, particularly impressive considering that neither female lead is a native Czech speaker. The orchestral direction under Ivor Bolton is well paced and captures Janacek’s unique voice quite well. The minimalist staging is not a detriment here, given director Stephane Braunschweig’s attention to the stage action of the large cast.

Video Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

A bit of a disappointment here since this an HD film rather than video recording. Consequently, detail is somewhat on the soft side and there is obvious if not distracting motion artifact. Considering the spareness of the stage, the drama of this opera (of which there is plenty) is aided by some very good camera work, shifting smoothly among the singers and the set.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack has a bit less ambience and warmth than would be heard in a live performance. The surround channels do add audience noise. The singers appear to be given some advantage over the large orchestra by the stage microphones. This helps the clarity of the vocalism which is consistently superb even, if it is not what one would likely hear in the house.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:1/5]

Slim pickings in this video, consisting of a cast gallery and illustrated synopsis.  Since Jenufa will not be familiar to some viewers, it would have been desirable for some background material and interviews with the principals.  Well, maybe, next time.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

Jenufa begins as a very dark work with few flickers of light until its end. It is interesting to note that this opera premiered in the same year as Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. While both operas deal with an important mother-child relationship, their respective musical idioms could not be more different.  Janacek’s highly chromatic wall-of-sound approach requires tight coordination between orchestra and soloists so that all of the colors come through.  Conductor Bolton delivers a very well balanced performance as the composer would have wished.  Jenufa has had good luck with previous video productions, most recently a Teatro de Liceu performance featuring sopranos Nina Stemme (in the title role) and veteran Eva Marton (Kostelnicka). This DVD has much to recommend it and, perhaps, real Jenufa lovers will have to get both. From my perspective, the current BD would be a hands-down winner were the recording quality on both video and audio ends a bit better. The performances are clearly terrific and merit repeated views.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B0055ISAIQ[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product]B0055ISAIQ[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Jenufa (Teatro Real Madrid) -

Purchase Janacek: Jenufa on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:1/5]

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