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Bizet/Shchedrin Carmen

Benazir Hussain, Daryl Brandwood, Errol Pickford, Melissa Aurisch
West Australian Ballet / West Australian Symphony Orchestra / Nicolette Fraillon

Opus Arte Faveo OA F4002 D [4:3; 55 Mins 2002]

Faveo is the new lower-priced DVD label of Opus Arte, launched this month with four Australian offerings first seen on TV, so the first batch are all 4:3 picture format, which may put off some buyers.

The cases are white and uncluttered. The inset information is minimal. For full casts, you may have to watch on screen. Mostly they have subtitles in English. For the older opera videos visual quality is a little variable, but generally adequate. Sound values are good.

This first dance release is short measure at 55 mins and of interest for its use of the popular Shchedrin 1967 score Carmen, ballet after Bizet for strings & percussion. It is presented in a minimalist production by Ted Brandsen, which some will like for its lack of artifice and concentration on the dance itself. The familiar story line is clearly depicted. Some of the choreography is rather conventional but it is all very watchable and builds to a gripping climax. The score is one which can benefit from sonic spectacular recording, such as on the CD conducted by Mikhail Pletnev coupled with two concertos for orchestra [CD Deutsche Grammophon 471 136-2GH]

However, this new Perth version of the familiar 'tale of desire, seduction, jealousy and betrayal' cannot hold a candle to the quite exceptional and far more impressionistic contemporary dance version to the same score by Mats Ek, which is totally gripping - a must-buy DVD, however many Carmens you own [Arthaus 100 182].




© Peter Grahame Woolf