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Iolanta / Persephone [Blu-ray] [Import]

2.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Format: Classical, NTSC, Import
  • Language: Russian, French
  • Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Teatro Real
  • Release Date: Oct. 30 2012
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • ASIN: B008H2IIWU
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Product Description

Quick Shipping !!! New And Sealed !!! This Disc WILL NOT play on standard US DVD player. A multi-region PAL/NTSC DVD player is request to view it in USA/Canada. Please Review Description.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Iolanta is an opera I love. This performance is an abomination - Eurotrash staging and costuming at its very worst. The set is meaningless static minimalism that adds nothing at all. The costumes are drab modern suits and dresses that bear no relationship to the roles Tchaikovsky ordained for the singers. The acting is wooden - one suspects at the behest of the Director. The music is well-played and the singers do well within what must surely be one of the most uncongenial settings modern directorial arrogance ever devised. So why 2 stars rather than 1? I took little pleasure in watching Stravinsky's Persephone. It is as much a dance opera as an opera tout court. It uses exactly the same set as for Iolanta, but the costumes are not so drab and out of period as for Iolanta and the various light effects actually do seem to have something to do with the story (based on Homer). It is again well-sung, and while I am much more interested in the "opera" side of things than in the "dance" aspects I must admit that the modern dancing was not totally unappealing - so 1 star for Iolanta and a slightly dubious 3 stars for Persephone. As far as I can tell this is the only DVD of Persephone, so Stravinsky fans and lovers of the obscure may well buy this Blu-Ray for that reason. Why anyone would buy it for Iolanta - where there are other respectable alternatives - eludes me entirely.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa6813750) out of 5 stars 12 reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa6946a98) out of 5 stars Minimalist brilliance ... Dec 14 2012
By Linze - Published on
Format: DVD
If you want to see how potent minimalistic staging, costumes and acting can be in opera then Peter Sellars' twin productions of Iolanta and Perséphone, commissioned by Teatro Real's Artistic Director, Gerard Mortier, are the epitome of this style. From the moment the spotlight focuses on Ekaterina Scherbachenko and her attendants, and the first words of Tchaikovsky's Iolanta are sung, this production is captivating. The singing is superb throughout, as it has to be as there is nothing else happening on stage to hide any imperfection behind. Set on an otherwise empty stage the simple `door' frames, with their improbably balanced obsidian stones, are used to indicate different rooms and structures within the imagined spaces of the story. This works exceptionally well with the lighting effects used giving both depth and definition to the artists' movements on stage.

Sellars uses the same set for Stravinsky's Perséphone to great effect with changing backdrops and lighting giving the simple frame structures a completely different feel. Whilst I felt Stravinsky's piece was less compelling musically it was beautifully performed and had the additional interest of the Cambodian dancers from Amrita Performing Arts who shadowed the story in their unique form of ballet.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa6946aec) out of 5 stars Emotionally moving Tchaikovsky opera Aug. 13 2013
By Bob Epstein - Published on
Format: Blu-ray
I did not expect to be so deeply moved by this lesser known Tchaikovsky opera. Iolanta may not be performed much these days but it has striking attributes: a powerful, melancholy mood, gripping characters and a concentrated story that consistently holds one's interest. And if it is not quite as consistently inspired melodically as Eugene Onegin or Queen of Spades, Tchaikovsky can still be most persuasive here, successfully tugging at the emotional heart meter. Iolanta was Tchaikovsky's last opera, premiering in 1892 on a double bill with the Nutcracker (quite the long program!), and it is not hard to see how the joie de vivre of the ballet would win over more audience than the intimate, somber opera. Yet when performed as convincingly as it is here, Iolanta casts a strong poetic spell that leaves a powerful, lasting impression. At 1 hour and 45 minutes, it is quite substantial, no mere trifle length-wise. It more than holds its own on the opera stage.

The one-act work is centered around the blind Iolanta, daughter of King Rene in 15th century Provence, who doesn't know she differs from anyone else. The story is strong and dark, and I won't spoil the ending, but it is terribly moving. Tchaikovsky rises to the occasion with much music that is eloquent. It's hard to know where to start with the successes of this 2012 Madrid production. The singing is universally fine, with a largely youthful Russian cast offering clear and pure vocalism, with especially strong enunciation. Iolanta is eloquently portrayed by a silver-voiced Ekaterina Scherbachenko, evoking a radiant presence. Veteran Willard White not only looks the part of the Moorish physician Ibn Hakia, but also sings powerfully and evocatively, although not as clearly as the Russian cast. The most beautiful and impressive voice belongs to baritone Alexej Markov, who has a burnished, beautifully-produced tone and strong dramatic ideas as Robert, Iolanta's promised suitor. Markov reminds me of the young Sergei Leiferkus; I'd love to hear him as Onegin, a specialty of Leiferkus years ago.

Masterfully supporting and greatly enriching this moving work is the superb conducting of Teodor Currentzis, also dramatically insightful in Verdi's Macbeth on video. He totally has the measure of Iolanta, offering strong dramatic contrasts and consistently realizing the emotional undercurrents of the work. Currentzis elicits first-rate, idiomatic playing from the Madrid players.

Both stage and video direction are by long-time John Adams collaborator Peter Sellars, who puts a distinctive mark on the proceedings. He stresses close-up shots of the protagonists, which in such a personal and moving piece fits the action well. The costumes are modern and plain. His staging is modest - open door frames with symbolic objects (rocks?) on their tops - and it works convincingly. People enter and leave a scene but their emotional presence is never far behind. Most striking is Sellars' daring, dynamic lighting; the contrast is extreme and powerful. It seems often a very bright hand-held light is used quite close to the characters, which might have been disconcerting in the theater, but is largely unobtrusive or unseen on screen. The contrasts of strong and varied levels of light and ample use of shade are most moving - ironic in a story focused on a blind person.

Several elements stand out musically and dramatically; a distinctive on-stage string quartet toward the beginning, the touching love duet between the two leads, the strongly etched duet between Markov and his Burgundian couterpart Vaudemont (movingly sung by Pavel Cernoch) and the beautiful final hymn. The end scene is visually highly striking: the entire cast is in black, except for Iolanta awash in royal blue, standing out most dramatically from the others. A notable end to a notable opera. It brings numerous gulps to the throat.

Stravinsky's Persephone, at just under an hour, fills out the disc. Unusually, it has the same stark set as Iolanta, which seems to work well in this intimate Greek legend. The work features a striking Dominque Blanc in the spoken role of Persephone, a vocally off and on Paul Groves as the commentator Eumolpe (the only vocalist), a small, beautiful Cambodian dance troupe (with particularly eloquent hand movements) and a chorus. It is the soft side of Stravinsky, a complement to the Iolanta, and is a mildly agreeable pastiche, nothing more.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa6946f24) out of 5 stars Meaningful productions May 30 2013
By A. Lupu - Published on
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
If you are not really familiar with these 2 operas, go first to the extras where Peter Sellars explains his understanding and realization of the two operas. Both operas use the same minimalistic staging and customs. For Iolanta it works beautifully. In fact it is possible that the premier failure of Iolanta was due to staging it as a grand opera, when in fact it is an intimate and personal opera. Sellars gives to this opera various meanings and he knows how to accomplished it. You may agree or disagree with Sellars, but his interpretation is very well executed. The orchestra and singers perform wonderful. The music is an intimate Tchaikovsky, different from his grandiose operas or ballets, a real treat. I was very impressed by Willard White playing Dr. Ibn-Hakia. In summary, a very enjoyable and well executed Iolanta.
Persophone is a little bit more difficult. The libretto by Andre Gide is quite dense and needs full attention. I am sure something is missed in the translation to English for those who don't understand French. I was not convinced by the minimalistic approach. I felt something was missing, in particular because it is difficult to visualize the transition between the abduction, Hell and then back to Earth. The Cambodian dancers are a nice addition although at some points it gets a little bit confusing. The general theme is too big for an intimate production in my opinion. Sellars linked both operas as the search for light, which is interesting and meaningful. The pamphlet enclosed in the Blu-Ray disc lacks more details on the operas themselves.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa6946f0c) out of 5 stars Fantastic!! Jan. 24 2013
By Barb B - Published on
Format: DVD
I am a grumpy old lady who hates minimalist productions. And the same set and same costumes are used for two very different operas!! Should have been a recipe for disaster BUT I really loved both productions on this dvd. I cannot agree more with the first reviewer.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa6d003e4) out of 5 stars A TOTAL WORK OF ART TIMES TWO. Sept. 19 2014
By Alfredo R. Villanueva - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Not too many people have heard of Stephan Mallarmés concept of a total work: a piece that unites all of the arts in one complete performance. Peter Sellars has just achieved it with his production of these two operas. He has done the seemingly impossible: strip "Iolanta" of its fairy tale "Russianness" and turn it into an ageless, serene, mystical work of art. The same must be said of "Persephone": poetry by Andre Gide, flawlessly spoken by Dominique Blanc, impeccably sung by Paul Groves and the chorus of the Teatro Real de Madrid, with a minimalist setting that invokes both painterly abstraction and Zen architecture, and danced by Cambodian Royal Dancers. What a joy to have an literate opera producer like him. The vocals? As good or better than you can get elsewhere (wait for the Met's production of Iolanta with Ms. Nebretko). This is opera as sacred choral music. One for the ages..