Friday, 24 April 2015

New DVDs : 'Claude' by Thierry Escaich (BelAir) and 'Lear' by Aribert Reimann (ArtHaus)

Two contemporary operas have been recently released on DVD : Claude by Thierry Escaich, first performed in Lyon in May 2013 (BelAir Classiques) and Lear by Aribert Reimann (first performed in Munich in July 1978, ArtHaus Musik).

Both DVDs unfortunately present the same ridiculous defect : the main menu is not silent. Therefore, you hear repeatedly a short excerpt of the opera while you stay on the title page. Worse, when you have watched the whole performance, including applause, bows and final credits and patiently waited for the very end of the recording, you are immediately brought back to the noisy title menu, and that is very unfortunate. There is absolutely no reason to have any music there. Imagine a few bars of the coming act being played through loudspeakers to call the audience back to their seats after an interval, or the most famous tune being broadcast in the theater when the audience leaves. Nonsense !

The opening credits of the French opera are already accompanied by music. Considering there is no image of the conductor or the audience before the performance, it is quite impossible to know whether this music is the prelude of the opera, or just a bright idea of the editor.
The seconday menus (chapters, subtitles and bonus) are silent. Subtitles are available in English and French.
There are about 6 minutes of closing images, after the final note is played : applause, bows, with credits starting before the conductor appears on stage, followed by the director. But the composer remains out of sight.
On the other hand, the composer has been recorded in a discussion with librettist Robert Badinter (who was Minister of Justice when death penalty was abolished in France) and television interviewer Anne Sinclair. Strangely enough, the clock doesn't work during the bonus, which is supposed to last about 26 minutes.

The beginning of the Lear recording is much better : opening credits with audience noises, then orchestra tuning. There are no applause at the start, and the staging begins before the music. The opening credits are followed by the silent entrance of all the characters. It lasts almost 6 minutes. We have to wait for the end of Act I to see the conductor. There are more than 8 minutes of applauses and closing credits at the end : first the singers bow all together, then one by one in turn, followed by the chorus joined by the chorus master, the conductor (she shakes hand with the prompter !), then the composer who takes every singer in his arms. The closing credits start only after that, when all artists are bowing together. Then, as in the Claude DVD, the title menu reappears immediately, with its accompanying music. Too bad !
The oddity about this recording is the position of the last track titled "End credits" in the brochure. It starts 6 minutes after the end of the music, when the composer appears on stage. It would have made more sense to have it start at the beginning of the applause. It has been recorded in May 2014, more than two years after the première of the production, so the director isn't there.

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