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Platel: C(h)œurs [Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro Real Madrid] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: PCM 2.0, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Teatro Real
  • Blu-ray Release Date: October 30, 2012
  • List Price: $39.99

Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Performance
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

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:3/5]


The title, C(h)œurs, is a play on the French words for choirs and hearts. As such, it reflects Belgian choreographer Alain Platel’s attempt to adapt choral works of Giuseppe Verdi and his contemporary Richard Wagner to a world of political turmoil, one that these composers knew well in their own lifetimes. Using Platel’s own company Les Ballets C de la B (Contemporary Ballet Corps of Belgium), supported by Madrid’s Il Teatro Real Orchestra and Chorus, we are treated to a 90-minute display of the human form in clad and nude arrangements, occasionally caught in open-mouth screams. Vocal selections from Verdi’s Requiem, Nabucco, Macbeth, La Traviata, and Wagner’s Lohengrin, Tannhauser, and Die Meistersinger would not be considered particularly danceable and the dancers frequently seem out of sync with rhythm of the on-stage chorus. By way of warning, the choreography itself is quite graphic with the chorus occasionally getting into the act. The staging, quite bare except for risers and a central loudspeaker, does little to suggest the theme of each piece, with frequent costume and placard references to revolution or protest.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

The camera work is simply superb with some stunning close ups of the dancers as they contort and bend themselves into positions that seem humanly impossible. Colors are also gorgeous on the well-lighted stage. The red and white costumes, both male and female, look like they came from a crossdresser’s closet, being a variety of skirts and tunics. While there are a lot of static moments, the videographers give us enough image variety to keep the flow of the piece going.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]


The chorus and orchestra are very well recorded and the DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack has plenty of special effects and rumbling bass energy.  The selections played over the PA speaker sound a bit canned, probably the effect that the creative team was going after.  The stereo version is fine but not nearly as atmospheric.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

There is a 21-minute documentary featuring choreographer Platel and his creative team during the conceptualization and rehearsal of this piece. Given the frequently odd nature of the stage business, I found that this background piece did add some valuable insights.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3/5]

It is usually exciting to see a world premiere and this BD allows viewers to receive what the Madrid patrons experienced on opening night in March 2012.  Technically, this is a well recorded event that will excite eyes and ears alike.  However, I found this concept of merging choir and dancers to be at times obstructive rather than supportive to the cause of the choreography.  Granted, much of today’s contemporary dance seems deliberately awkward in contrast to the grace typically associated with classic ballet. C(h)œurs does give us some moments of incredible physicality but the body and facial contortions of the corps begin to wear thin with time. I also found it odd that the majority of musical selections, particularly the Wagner choruses, have literally nothing to do with protest while only the pieces from Verdi’s Nabucco and Macbeth address the plight of oppressed souls.   In final analysis, this might not matter very much to potential buyers who may find Platel’s concepts and choreography just too oppressive for their personal tastes.

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Overall
[Rating:3/5]
The Performance
[Rating:3/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]


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