Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk on Blu-Ray

(and reviewed
at Opera Today
) has also been issued in Blu-ray, and this technology
enhances further the production values of this particular recording. Visually
the Blu-ray video is superior to the DVD release with regard to the refinement
of the images and the clarity of presentation. The sharp definition allows the
performers to appear immediate and accessible. Without exaggerating any
details, the realistic images also reinforce the sense of immediacy, which is
already present in the DVD version of this production.

At times, however, the blue-cast of the sets in the first act seems more
pronounced in this medium, and this seems to color the resulting images in an
unintended manner. At the same time, that blue-cast makes the flesh tones of
the actors more prominent, an element which is essential to the gritty,
realistic production that has some provocative displays of various sexual
interaction. As a filmed opera, some aspects of the staging appear also seem
more pronounced in the Blu-ray disc, as with the use of the flashlight later in
the act. This detail may not emerge as clearly in the theater, where this
effect depends on the distance and elevation from the stage. Here the blurring
light of the flashlight has a welcome prominence in drawing the viewer’s
attention to the scene. Overall the already fine visual presentation that is
available on the DVD is heightened in Blu-ray, as is the sound, which is
qualitatively clearer. The fine performance is transmitted with a sense of
immediacy that is not always possible with opera videos.

More importantly the sound on the Blu-ray version is more details and
clearer than on DVD. Granted, the sound levels on the DVD are excellent, some
aspects of the performance emerge with greater clarity on the Blu-ray version
of this video. The orchestra has a fine presence, with the dynamic levels
nicely distinguished in this recording. At times the sound conveys the sense of
a studio recording, an aspect of the release which also commends itself to
those interested in an effective recording. Yet this sense of clarity also
allows the voices to be heard more precisely, thus reinforcing the sense of
immediacy that is part of the visual presentation in this medium. The sound
quality is fine throughout the Blu-ray recording, but particularly effective in
the final scene in the fourth act (disc 2, tracks 8-17), as the score buildings
to its powerful conclusion. This is a part of the opera in which the visual and
sonic details are only enhanced through this level of refinement.

The Blu-ray release contains the same supporting materials as the DVD
version of this opera. The documentary by Reiner E. Moritz “Lady
Macbeth of Mtsensk
: The Tragedy of Katerina Ismailova”, was already
part of the DVD version, and it is included on the Blu-ray release. In fact,
all the features of the original recording are found here, and given the
qualitative differences in the sonic and visual levels, this version of the
video is preferable for those who want to experience the opera almost as if
they were in the audience for the production itself.

James L. Zychowicz

For this recording on standard DVD:

product_title=Dmitri Shostakovich: Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk
product_by=Katerina Lvovna Ismailova: Eva-Maria Westbroek; Sergey: Christopher Ventris; Aksinya: Carole Wilson; Boris Timofeyevich Ismailov: Vladimir Vaneev; Sonyetka: Lani Poulson; Zinovy Borisovich Ismailov: LudovÌt Ludha; Shabby Peasant: Alexandre Kravets. Netherlands Opera Chorus. Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. Marss Jansons, conductor. Martin Kuöej, stage director. Recorded live at the Het Muziektheater, Amsterdam in June 2006.
product_id=Opus Arte OABD7031D [2 Blu-Ray DVDs]