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Tan Dun: Marco Polo [Import]

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product Details

  • Actors: Dun, Audi, Workman, Castle, Richardson
  • Directors: Vermerien
  • Format: Classical, Color, DTS Surround Sound, DVD-Video, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen, Import
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Dutch, English, French, Italian, Spanish
  • Region: All RegionsAll Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Bbc / Opus
  • Release Date: June 30 2009
  • Run Time: 169 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • ASIN: B0025XW95O
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Product Description


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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 6 reviews
15 of 15 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
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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
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)
3 of 3 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
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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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Libretto that is too clever by half, music that fails to gel until the second half, but gorgeous visuals June 13 2015
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
Tan Dun's opera "Marco Polo", with a libretto by Paul Griffths, was premiered in 1996 and generated some buzz, winning the Grawemeyer Award. Twelve years later the Netherlands Opera revived it with Pierre Audi directing, a production brought to home viewers on DVD and Blu-Ray. The composer himself conducts.

The person of Marco Polo is divided into two roles: Marco, the man as he was during the journey, and Polo, the man's memory as he might recount his journey later in life. These two singers move about the stage a lot, but they get relatively few lines unti late in the opera. Perhaps the real protagonist is Rustichello, a sort of narrator and Puck-like character, played by a Chinese singer trained in Peking Opera. Griffiths' libretto is rather too clever by half. Bringing Dante in for a major role (as well as Shakespeare and Mahler in cameos) when the opera already has the zany Rustichello is really overegging the pudding.

The plot of the opera is essentially Polo's journey to the East, and each scene finds him in a different place. The music changes styles to match the landscape and people around him. Scenes associated with Venice offer Late Romantic era music; I had never expected this composer interested in the avant-garde and East-West crossover to write so convincingly in this style. On the road to China, two Hindustani musicians appear to play sitar and tabla and the music takes on the form of raga. Then, we hear prayer bowls, bells and Tibetan trumpets. (Yes, curiously Griffith has Polo going through Hindustan and crossing the Himalayas, well to the south of his actual route.) With the climax of the work, the arrival at the Forbidden City, the music settles into highly melodic symphonic writing representative of Tan Dun's film scores.

As I write this, the reviews of the old CD release on Sony Classical are negative, but those for this video release are highly positive. That's understandable, because it is really the visuals that carry the opera. The music is rather too episodic, too constantly changing to hold the listener's attention until the second half of the opera. The dancers are outstanding: deft pirouettes and somersaults of Rustichello played by Zhang Jun, the swaying erotic movements of Mu Na in an Arabian scene. Costumes by Angelo Figus are very similar to his work on previous Netherlands Opera productions, namely Tan Dun's later opera Tea and Claude Vivier's Reves d'un Marco Polo. Namely, mant people on the stage are enveloped in voluminous folds of thick, decorated fabric. The set design too is rich and carries some surprises. One gets the impression that no expense was spared.

I watched the Blu-ray release and was quite satisfied the HD visuals and the 5.1 surround sound. The DVD/Blu-Ray extras are a 7-minute synopsis and a half-hour-long making-of featurette. The booklet also offer some insightful notes on the piece. All in all, this is a rich and elaborate production that might be worth a chance for opera lovers, though I myself (and I would call myself a Tan Dun fan) was disappointed by the libretto.
3 of 4 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
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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.