This production from
Opus Arte demands attention and if you are interested in
the Blu-ray medium I counsel you to rush out to buy this
disc forthwith before it sells out.
first saw this extraordinary production some eight years
ago and was both excited and impressed. As a BBC DVD, an
extract from it was released as a freebie advertising the
Northwest Ballet is one of the largest ballet companies
in the United States and was founded in 1972. Under the
direction of Peter Boal the PNB and the PNB School has
more than 950 students. It is an internationally recognised
academy producing some of the finest young dancers of today. No!
The Pacific Northwest Ballet is not the most important
ballet company in the world and this is not
definitive production of Mendelssohn’s Midsummer Night’s
. There’s additional music padding out the original
one act turning it into two. However, the magic, the spectacular
and genius of Balanchine’s choreography explodes onto the
stage with a blazing palette. For the first time - especially
authorised by the Balanchine Trust - sensational new scenery
and costumes designed by Martin Pakledinaz result in a
spellbinding tapestry of vivid colour sprawling across
the television screen. There’s virtuosic dancing and acting
from their (then) star performer, the show stealing Seth
Belliston as the seductive and alluring Puck. The prima
ballerina (just retired) Patricia Barker as the enchanted
and enchanting Queen of the Fairies (Tatiana) captures
the stage in her then famous ‘pas de deux’.
surprise however, was to see this production once again
just a few nights ago on a 48” Sony Bravia LCD with 1080
pixels from the new fabulous Blu-ray BBC/Opus Arte production.
This production has been reviewed many times previously
and does not need me, an aging classical music producer,
to critique a medium in which I am not experienced. But
I can talk about the sheer impact of the visuals and of
years ago I was asked to desist from making some of the
earliest digital audio productions for EMI. I disobeyed,
only to see my very early digital productions selling as
fast as we could make them. I was instructed that the digital
medium was doomed to fail! The public as we now know thought
differently! Now today, we have a new and remarkable technological
advance alongside which conventional television simply
pales: HD television. Anyone who has seen HD cannot deny
the sheer quality - being a quantum leap forward.
have always been saddened by those who put down the SACD
medium. I wonder if they have actually heard it? Properly
recorded and authored the difference is extraordinary and
Blu-ray is yet another massive improvement in visual and
aural terms. (For technical information see below – it is
a producer I have worked in High Resolution audio for over
15 years and record everything today in 5.1 - 88.2 kHz.
My interest therefore in this Blu-ray release was significant
and I wrote to Len Mullenger asking to be allowed to review
the production. I was not to be disappointed. For anyone
that wants to experience a demonstration quality production
with electrifying sound and visuals that simply astonish,
I cannot recommend this Blu-ray disc from Opus Arte highly
enough. However, it is important to emphasise a critical
issue. To appreciate this astonishing medium, one must
have quality supporting equipment. No single item in the
chain can be sub-standard. We used the Sony STR DA5200ES
to drive the B & W 802s, KEF 105s – and a Panasonic
DMPBD10A Blu-ray player with a 48” Bravia LCD.
is but one – small - negative which I feel bound to comment
upon. During the final credits suddenly we lose all sound … it
does not affect the performance but it does have you running
to see what has happened to the sound. It’s a minor gripe
and Opus Arte have confirmed that the BBC mastered the
original master tape - that is that and all there is to
it. Professionally unforgivable but there we are!
players are available for considerably less than £200!
It is a winning standard and it is here to stay. Get one
and go and buy this disc! It is fabulous!
If you wish to know more about Blu-ray and how it differs from
the DVD format, I can recommend the FAQ
of the Blu-Ray.com site.