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Joseph Haydn: Orlando Paladino [Staatsoper Unter der Linden Berlin] Blu-ray Review

haydn-orlando-paladino-blu-ray-cover

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: LPCM 2.0, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Italian
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Running Time: 168 minutes
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: EuroArts
  • Blu-ray Release Date: March 26, 2013
  • List Price: $39.99

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0.5/5]

 

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(The below 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]

title

Franz Joseph Haydn is not as well known for his fourteen operas as he is for his many symphonies, string quartets and piano works.  However, this does not mean that “Papa” Haydn lacked any of the requisite skill or inspiration for this musical genre. Orlando Paladino, his penultimate opera was composed in 1782 while he was enjoying the patronage of the Esterhazy family. Based on a libretto by Nunziato Porta, this work is billed as “heroic-comical,” perhaps in the same genre as his friend, Mozart’s Die Zaubertflote (Magic Flute).

In Act 1, Rodomonte, King of Barbary (Pietro Spagnoli), disguised as a pirate, accosts the shepherdess Eurilla (Sunhae Im) and her father Licone (Artuu Kataja).  The King is looking for Angelica, the Queen of Cathay (Marlis Petersen) and her lover Medoro (Magnus Staveland). Rodomonte explains that he is seeking to protect Angelica from the jealous Orlando (Tom Randle).  Angelica, hiding in a castle, invokes the sorceress Alcina (Alexandrina Pendatchanska) to shield her. Medoro enters to tell Angelica that Orlando and his squire Pasquale (Victor Torres) are nearby. Eventually Orlando appears, seeking to eliminate his supposed rival, Medoro.
 Alcina saves the day when she casts a spell on the raving Orlando.

As Act 2 opens, Orlando, released from his spell, pursues Angelica and Medoro. Later,  Eurilla meets Pasquale, looking a lot like Don Quixote’s Sancho Panza, and the two profess their affection. Alcina reunites Angelica and Medoro but Orlando intrudes. He is put in a straight-jacket to the amazement of Angelica, Medoro, Eurilla and Rodomonte. When Orlando is released from this state, he goes after Alcina.

The Act 3 resurrection of Orlando eschews his visit to the underworld (a visual opportunity missed in this production). Alcina appears and cures Orlando’s madness. He forgets his love for Angelica and loathing of Medoro, allowing them to be united, and leaves to pursue other adventures.

This 2009 Staatsoper Under den Linden production, gives us the period ensemble, Freiburger Barockorchester, led by early music specialist Rene Jacobs.  The cast is particularly strong and vocally appropriate. The staging will either provoke or delight the audience, depending on how much they welcome significant liberties with sets, costumes and stage business.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

alcina

Camera coverage of the stage and performers is fabulous, making what could have been a static “stand and deliver” performance into one that has heart and soul.  However, Nigel Lowery’s sets and costumes are a mish-mash of periods, a cross between cartoons and cardboard. But, in the greater scheme of things, they mostly work and enhance the comic elements of this opera. Details and colors are excellent. There are some miscalculations but, for the most part, they are infrequent.

Audio Quality

[Rating:3.5/5]

fight

Nearly all of the sound action is upfront. In fact, considering the voices, very upfront. I am not very familiar with this house but I thought that audio engineers captured more vocal shrillness possibly a microphone artifact. This sonic anomaly came and went during the performance but was a bit surprising given the provenance of this production. This effect was less noticeable in the two-channel PCM version.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0.5/5]

marlis

EuroArts gives us several classical music trailers.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

violin

For those who love Haydn, this is your chance to see a rarely performed mid-career piece, seriously updated with a bunch of new era touches. However, the honesty of the vocal performances carries the day. I was delighted by the female voices in this production while their male counterparts were mostly up to the task. Staging issues aside, and this will be the dividing line between traditionalists and experimentalists, I thought that the dramatic concepts mostly worked. We are not going to get another Orlando Paladino any time soon so this will be the recorded performance that will be the sole choice for opera fans.  Getting past my audio reservations, this Blu-ray Disc is still worth considering.

Additional Screen Captures

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Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0.5/5]

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