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

Charles Workman , Sarah Castle    NR (Not Rated)   Blu-ray

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 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
5.0 out of 5 stars 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
5.0 out of 5 stars 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.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 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.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wish I could have liked the score more May 15 2013
By Watson Rink - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Blu-ray
Marco Polo joins The Midsummer Marriage as an opera I really thought I would treasure, only to find that the music put me off from enjoying the fascinating story, intriguing philosophical depths and glorious mounting.

Occasionally the music would veer back into something I could assimilate (quasi-Britten, for instance) only to begin pointless screeching. Particularly from the Jerry Lewis character from the Peking Opera.

I confess that my best watchings of this opera were with the sound turned off, especially in 3x rewind. The strange but intriguing juxtaposition of piazza, desert, Himalayas and Great Wall, illuminated by the costumes, lighting and actors' movements, were a fascinating experience.

I suppose there's no accounting for tastes in music: but as someone who's been excited by recent operas by composers like Ades and Birtwhistle, I have to confess that too much of Tan Dun's score just irritated me.

(BTW, substantially the same impression of The First Emperor: amazing settings and movements, wonderful characterizations by the singers, but too much of the music left me flat (though much of it caught me better than Marco Polo).

Hence a three-star judgment for me; but if you like Tan Dun's music, then this is an experience not to be missed

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