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Experimentum Mundi

EuroArts // Unrated // April 28, 2015
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted August 10, 2015 | E-mail the Author
Experimentum Mundi Opera Blu-ray Review

Experimentum Mundi is an acclaimed contemporary opera created by Giorgio Battistelli. The work is considered a pivotal and important piece in modern composition and is experimental with regards to style and approach. The film version of this opera performance is directed by Giancarlo Matcovich. The original performance of the Experimentum Mundi opera was first performed in the 1980's.

The whole concept of the opera is to focus on the sounds created by workers. The emphasis is entirely placed on workers who are using their tools of craft and trade to make sounds. So the entire opera consists of a variety of professionals working with their tools to make interesting music together.

The result is that there is a great emphasis given to the rhythm and style of the sounds created during the performance. The style is always natural and forms an imperfect but beautiful and intriguing sound. The types of workers featured in the opera include a pastrymaker, shoemaker, toolmaker, and stonecutter. There is a variety of different workers and their tools emphasized in the opera.

The opera also has an emphasis on "gypsy" voices which collectively speak names in whispered tones. This component gives an ethereal and mystical tone to the opera. It's an intriguing aspect of the music and adds to the already fascinating combination of sounds.

The Experimentum Mundi opera is one which takes place in a given moment: it's entirely based on experimental rhythm and it doesn't aim for perfection. The rhythm flows and changes as the workers work at different speeds. What might start out as a slow and steady rhythm of consistent work-flow can increase in speed. The music picks up steam (as if the workers are working harder and faster to meet a deadline). The opera ends as the workers are finding a ending to their work. It's an interesting concept and the way in which the music blends is surprisingly effective.

The Blu-ray:


Video:

Experimentum Mundi is presented on Blu-ray with an impressive 1080i MPEG-4 AVC encoded image. The 16:9 1.78:1 widescreen presentation looks generally sharp. The production is clean and well-detailed with nice HD photography. Even though this is an interlaced encode, the image doesn't seem to have any noteable issues and there aren't any bad interlacing issues. It's a solid and satisfying presentation.

Audio:

There are two lossless audio presentations included on this release: PCM Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound. Either option should provide a satisfactory experience for listeners, but the 5.1 mix is nice and robust and really adds a nice element of immersion. It's incredible to experience the sounds as they pick up steam and become more complex over the course of the opera. The surround mix is well done and should be considered the best option if one is equipped for surround sound.

Extras:

Behind the Scenes (26 min.) is an interesting making-of documentary with some footage of the preparation of the opera as well as interviews with the composer about the performance and origination of the idea. The interview footage is particularly insightful about the concept and gives added meaning to the opera.

Experimentum Mundi Remix (16 min) is a sort of music-video style recreation of the opera but with a slightly different composition approach and electronic music added over it.

The Blu-ray release comes in Digipack style packaging with a booklet featuring an introduction and an essay on the opera (which is printed in both English and German). The booklet contains cast photographs and production stills.

Final Thoughts:

Experimentum Mundi is an unusual and fascinating opera. It's an intriguing experiment that has proven successful in the decades following its premiere. The opera creates a unique sound with different workers tools being used as the instruments for music. The Blu-ray release contains a strong performance of the opera and includes worthwhile supplements and collectible packaging.

Recommended.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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