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Tchaikovsky: Pique Dame [Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona] 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
  • Region: ABC (Region-Free)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: C Major/Opus Arte
  • Blu-ray Release Date: July 26, 2011
  • List Price: $39.99

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BestBuy.com:
Pique Dame (Gran Teatre del Liceu) -

Purchase Pique Dame 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:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

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]

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, best known for his symphonic and balletic scores, was also a prolific opera composer. After Evgeny Onegin, Pique Dame is his most performed opera.  Pique Dame is based on Pushkin’s short story of a troubled Russian army officer who sees his way to fortune by obtaining the secret to winning at card games. The officer, Herman, encounters a vulnerable young woman, Lisa, whose grandmother, the Countess, has the secret to the winning hand. Herman eventually steals this secret only to have it fail him at the critical moment. His suicide at the gambling table, after seeing the spirit of the old Countess whom he had frightened to death, is one of the great dramatic moments in all of opera.

This 2010 Barcelona production, in period costume and settings, goes to great lengths to recreate the excitement at the work’s premiere. To a large degree, it succeeds in this respect. With the exception of soprano Emily Magee (Lisa), contralto Ewa Podles (Countess) and baritone Ludovic Tezier (Prince Yeletsky), the cast will be largely unfamiliar to many non-European viewers. Fortunately, the major roles of Herman (Mischa Didyk) and Tomsky (Lado Ataneli) are in good hands. Michael Boder, music director of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, paces his forces adroitly and supports his singers superbly. The videography is at Opus Arte’s usual high standard.

Video Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

There is an off-the-screen palpability to this production. The costumes and settings are simply outstanding in the best grand opera tradition.  The videography is as good as it gets for an opera production. The colors and details as evidenced in the Act II pastorale sequence are eye-popping.  With plenty of close ups, it is fortunate that most of the principals are reasonably telegenic. The sole yet important exception is soprano Magee who appears too matronly for her ingenue role.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Tchaikovsky wrote some of the most atmospheric music on the planet and this score is no exception. The sound engineers receive high praise for near perfect balance between singers and the orchestra. Maestro Boder who has led his players for the past three years elicits a fine sense of detail from the pit that helps the dramatic sense of this piece immensely. Of course it does not hurt that vocal performances turned in by most of the soloists and chorus are first rate. There is a very modest contribution from the surround channels in the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:0/5]

There is a cast picture gallery but nary a word about this opera or its production. With a work such as Pique Dame that is rarely performed on this side of the pond, I find this lack of information regrettable.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:4/5]

There are several echt Russian productions, including DVDs from the Kirov and Bolshoi companies. However, the theoretical advantage of having native Russian speakers is only important if the vocalism and theatricality are up to snuff. None of the Pique Dames that I have seen previously are without musical or theatrical flaws, some quite serious. Nor do they have the visual magnificence of this lone BD offering. With the exception of Magee’s Lisa, whose Russian is unidiomatic and whose characterization lacks spark, the remainder of this international cast is simply superb. Young Ukrainian tenor, Mischa Didyk, is a Hollywood-handsome Herman and a credible suitor for Lisa. The Countess, usually an end-of-career role for once-prominent female singers, is handled dramatically and vocally by noted Polish contralto Ewa Podles. Her chilling portrayal is easily the best that I have ever seen. Ludovic Tezier, a well regarded French baritone, gives a stellar performance as Prince Yeletsky. Herr Boder’s leadership from the pit keeps everything going beautifully. The traditional sets and costumes are flat out gorgeous. Gilbert Deflo’s direction is spot on as is the videography. In sum, while there is no dearth of video Pique Dames out there, this one wins handily on just about all counts. Opus Arte, you have another winner in your catalog!

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B004UU321A[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B004UU321A[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product region=”fr” tracking_id=”bluraydefin01-21″]B004UU321A[/amazon-product]

BestBuy.com:
Pique Dame (Gran Teatre del Liceu) -

Purchase Pique Dame 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:4.5/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:0/5]

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