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Mozart: Die Entführung aus dem Serail [Gran Teatre del Liceu/Bolton] 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, Catalan, Korean, Chinese
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Studio: C Major
  • Blu-ray Release Date: February 24, 2012
  • List Price: $39.99

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Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

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 Film

[Rating:4/5]


This C Major BD issue of Mozart’s comic singspiel opera, Die Entführung aus dem Serail (Abduction from the Seraglio) enters a crowded field of videos. While not the most popular of Mozart’s operas, it is chockful of delightful and often challenging vocal numbers. Belmonte (tenor Christoph Strehl) searches for his love, Kostanze (soprano Diana Damrau) who has been captured along with his servant Pedrillo (tenor Norbert Ernst) and Kostanze’ servant, Blonde, (sopran Olga Peretyako). The seraglio of the title is in Pasha Selim’s (speaker Christoph Quest) palace which is overseen by Osmin (bass Franz-Josef Selig).  The plot revolves around the efforts of Belmonte and Pedrillo to rescue their women from the lecherous Pasha. After a failed escape and capture, the two men and their lovers are eventually spared and returned to freedom.

This Christoph Loy production, recorded at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu in 2010, features minimalist sets and twentieth century wardrobe. Conductor Ivor Bolton, an old hand at Mozart, leads the Liceu’s forces quite skillfully.  The soloists are all in good shape with special kudos to Damrau and Selig (who literally steals the show).  Fair warning at the outset, this is an opera with a lot of spoken dialogue between the musical numbers. And, unlike Die Zauberflöte, also a singspiel work, that frequently has its dialogue abridged, this Entführing is presented line-for-line complete.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Camera work is stellar, but the overall picture is undermined by Loy’s insistence on a nearly bare stage (a trademark of his work). There is excellent balance between close ups and full stage views. Having the chorus start off in one of the loges might have been a clever touch but those seated there don’t seem to have enjoyed sharing the limelight.  Costumes are generally good-looking, with shades of the Casablanca style. Pasha Selim looks like a knock-off of Daddy Warbucks, perhaps adding to the comic nature of this production. Blonde, as portrayed by Peretyatko, carries off one of the sexiest renditions of this role that I have ever seen.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

This is a singer’s opera and there are plenty of arias to get this point across. Fortunately the cast is up to snuff and I would doubt that you would hear a better sung performance in today’s operatic world. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is better than the PCM 2.0 channel version, although with little ambience effects, the latter will not be disappointing to surround-challenged listeners.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0/5]

C Major often omits extras and this is a case in point, providing only trailers for other videos.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

I mentioned earlier that Die Entführung aus dem Serail has had many video productions; more than 20 are currently available, ranging from historic to traditional to updated settings like this one.  There is only one other Blu-ray release, an Opera Nederlandse production led by Constantin Carydis, and reasonably well cast. It also has some strange staging and, in the main, is not as well sung as the present release. If I have any reservations about this newest Blu-ray, these stem from Loy’s conceptualization. I have never been a fan of minimalism and basing sets on chairs instead of fully decorated rooms detracts from the atmosphere of this exotic opera.  That aside, this is a beautifully sung show that will please most vocal enthusiasts. So get it for the singers, forget about the sets, and you will not be disappointed.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B006NO1SVM[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product]B006NO1SVM[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:4/5]
The Performance
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

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