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Dun;Tan Marco Polo [Blu-ray] [Import]

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Amazon.com: 7 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Drop all preconceptions of opera July 7 2009
By Richard - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Richard Wagner envisioned the theater of the future as a coming together of all the different arts. Certainly for Wagner as for most other composers this ideal remains an ideal. Wagner may have brought together music, word and stagecraft but where is dance in his theater?
Marco Polo on the other hand seems just such a work where all the different arts work in harmony for the sake of the whole. Most operas use the words to convey the story. Not Marco Polo. The words are few and far between and they do not primarily carry the plot. For plot you have to look elsewhere - the words, the music, the choreography, the stagecraft, everything.
And for those of us accustomed to rather linear works Marco Polo poses some problems. It may be advisable to play the synopsis before jumping into the work. I preferred to jump in with no cheat sheets. It was hard at first but after a while I could follow the outline of the plot. I think I caught maybe 70% of what was happenning. And that is all right. Marco Polo is a strange and wonderful experience - just as the original story is.
The music as a blend of East and West. I was a little put off by the Chinese style of singing until I realized it wasn't so different from Western Baroque opera seria. Both styles put the singer's virtuosity first.
Is Marco Polo for everyone? Hardly. I have seen the three DVDs of Tan Dun operas and Marco seems the most difficult to comprehend. But it is a wonderful sound world and once you take it on its own terms rather than the expectation of what an opera should be it is quite a show.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Modern opera from the composer of the music to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" Sept. 1 2009
By Matthew Wilcox - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Tan Dun is probably known best for his film scores to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Hero". This DVD is a performance of his 1st opera. In "Marco Polo", the title character is actually played by two people: a woman plays the part of Marco, and a man plays the part of Polo. The piece transitions between a physical journey and a spiritual journey.

As the orchestra tunes, the players are already on the stage, with others approaching. The character Rustichello acts as a storyteller, and uses a sort of sing-speak method of telling his story. The music is a combination of traditional Oriental and avant-garde Western (modern classical). At one point, a sitarist and a tabla player join the actors onstage. The staging and costuming are bizarre, and complement the music well.

"Marco Polo" is very colorful and theatrical, like his opera "The First Emperor", which was a huge success when it premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in 2007. Opus Arte DVDs (such as this one) usually contain an illustrated synopsis, which may be helpful prior watching the opera. A 25-minute documentary is also included, allowing the viewer to learn more about the composer, players and crew.

Tan Dun - The First Emperor (The Metropolitan Opera HD Live Series)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
opera as history July 25 2010
By Erik C. Pihl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Tan Dun is arguably one of the most creative composers to come out of modern China. And in that coming out, he has not left his roots behind. This work is an early one, but stands the test of time very well. The production is remarkable for both the costumes and the stage sets. Certainly, a "must see" for modern opera lovers.
For explorers Jan. 11 2015
By A. Lupu - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I strongly advice viewers to watch the synopsis before the Opera itself (it's only about 8 minutes long). The synopsis actually would have been helpful part of the booklet, to facilitate a better understanding of the opera and its detailed symbolism.
The opera separates Marco Polo into two characters -- Marco is the external figure of the explorer sung by a mezzo-soprano, and Polo is his inner being including his memory sung by a tenor. They are united at the end of the Opera into one being. Other characters making appearances include Kublai Kahn, Dante, Shakespeare, Mahler and more. It makes for a symbolic/philosophical plot with many layers without strongly defined beginnings and ends.
Tan Dun, the composer, is more broadly known for the score of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, for which he won Academy and Grammy honors. His most recent opera “The First Emperor” debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in 2006.
The music of Marco Polo is a symbiosis of Chinese and Western Classical music. It is highly symbolic and requires focus while listening. For western audiences, not familiar with Chinese music and opera, it requires some effort, but once the essence of each scene is understood the music makes sense and it becomes part of the whole. When you watch this opera for the second time, as I did, it becomes immensely more familiar, interesting, and easy to enjoy.
The staging is somewhat overdone; the customs distract from the music and the meaning of each scene, themselves becoming the center of attention, which I don’t think is the purpose of the opera.
This opera is for explorers - those willing to learn and experience something different. I certainly enjoyed the experience.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Grammy Award Winner Jan. 21 2010
By Joanne C. Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Remarkable photography, costuming superb, the soloists were of the highest caliber, especially Nancy Allan Lundy, who portrayed water exquisitely.

The fact that this opera has been nominated for a grammy award speaks for itself. Buy it and see it before the Grammy Awards on January 31st.