Recorded in March 2004 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas during Sarah Brightman?s Harem World Tour, this new live CD and DVD (sold separately) demonstrates the musical seductress?s penchant for fusing musical genres- musical t... more »heater, classical, rock and world music- and plays like a collection of greatest hits performed live. The DVD will be a double-disc containing the entire Las Vegas show on Disc 1 (approx. run time of 110 minutes). The show was filmed with 18 cameras and directed by world-renown David Mallet (projects include Cher, Celine Dion, Cirque du Soleil, and the Three Tenors). Disc 2 features more than 1 hour of bonus footage: The making of?, all access backstage footage, multiple angle views, photo gallery of 100+photos and an interactive Harem quiz with a special prize« less
"Before my actual review is even to begin, I feel compelled to dispel nonsense about Sarah's supposed lip-synching. She doesn't. I made a road trip when she visited the west coast and saw three of her shows consecutively. If she lip-synchs, she must record a new track every night because each show was different. These allegations come about because sometimes, her lips don't synch perfectly with the singing. You'll notice that these instances occur almost always with close-up shots. The reason for this is this: Her concerts are recorded twice. She goes through the entire show without an audience so the director can get some nice close-up shots, then she does it for real in front of a live audience. The reasoning for this method is quite simple. To get the type of close-ups desired, the camera would be parked up on a crane with a film crew surrounding it right in front of the artist. A paying audience would riot if cameramen and stagehands were right there on stage hovering around Sarah. I know this isn't what people really want to know, but the editors have done an absolutely fantastic job putting the show together in a way that is totally seamless. It really is Sarah singing live, and while the method isn't what people want (I know we all want a DVD that shows footage only from the live audience show), but it's either we get to see her up close this way or we don't. If you go to her official site's fan section, you'll see they make absolutely no secret of this fact. In fact, there are photos from the first closed-set taping, which I believe a select group of lucky fans were able to sit in on and watch happen. Her official camp is absolutely candid about this process, and those who discredit her in their reviews are just ignorant of this process. Now, on to the review...
While One Night in Eden has more undeniable charm and La Luna drew us into another world more effectively, this latest concert hallmarks a great period in Sarah Brightman's career. She pulls all the stops in this one, and the sheer scope of what she puts together is a perfect accompaniment to this point in her career: she is at the top. If you think only getting the abridged soundtrack is enough to give you a taste of the Harem experience, you're dead wrong. You'll have to see this DVD, because the audio alone cannot portray the wonderful costumes, dances, and pure theatrics Sarah brings on stage.
The costumes are sheer decadence (meaning, of course, they are luxurious and fantastic). The diva is in top form, both vocally and physically, despite her age of forty-four, which she doesn't look anything like, mind you. The show is a lighting extravaganza, with the lighting director using each and every method and trick in his arsenol to use each and every bulb to highlight Sarah's presence. Together with the entourage of dancers who dance around her, Brightman is portrayed almost as a queen straight out of 1001 Arabian Nights. This, however, is how her fans know her best. Her shows almost always showcase her as the aloof goddess hovering on stage where her fans may best worship her. Despite all this, however, she still manages to come across as a warm, personable, charismatic performer.
While this concert was a little bit more 'showy' than I prefer seeing her, it was nonetheless dazzling. Sarah does not share a stage well, though, and she's best when she's the sole object of attention. The best performances feature her in this way: Who Wants to Live Forever, La Luna, Nessun Dorma (which was amazing), What a Wonderful World (probably the most memorable performance of the concert). The dancers, however, were terrific during the interludes. (My only gripe with the dancers was the 'biker chick' number where not only the dances, but the costumes were horribly out of place during the performance of 'Arabian Nights.) Featured vocalists Violet (née Amelia Brightman, Sarah's youngest sibling), Shwetta Shetty (indipop artist who contributed vocals on the Harem album), and Eli Barak were each brilliant. Shwetta, especially, is a powerhouse talent that brought much-needed 'ooomph' to Arabian Nights and What a Wonderful World.
Harem is a wonderful ride from beginning to end. She starts off strong with Harem then ends with the ever-crowd-pleasing Question of Honour. The camera captures each song very well. There is none of the fast camera changes, funky camera tricks, and downright schizoid camera handlings we've come to know and hate from recent concert releases -- thank God. (On a side note, I really wish that trend would die.) The camera is handled reverently, respectfully, and, most of all, maturely.
Video noise is the downfall of this DVD. It was destined to be the pinnacle concert DVD, but the director chose to use film that was subpar to what we expected. Pictures are not as crisp and clear as they were on La Luna, and the video noise is worse on this DVD than it is on One Night In Eden. Strangely enough, many scenes seem to be a bit 'smokey' in color. The color is not as vibrant or clear in some scenes because of this foggy quality. The worst is during far-away shots, because you can barely make out her face due to the video noise. For this reason, La Luna still ranks #1 as being the best DVD. Sound, however, on Harem Live is lush, rich, and everything I expected it to be. You can definitely see the images, and the only reason it was distracting for me was because I was expecting something just as good (or better) than La Luna when it came to video quality. Everything does show up well and it is watchable, don't get me wrong. I just wish video quality was better, because Brightman's concerts are such a visual feast for the eyes.
The extras on the second disc include some entertaining interviews with her entourage. It also includes a photo sequence that shows various photos, and while it plays, a few remixes of Harem songs play in the background -- worth listening to if you enjoyed the Harem album! There's also a video quiz that is quite infuriating, but the prize is a password to access a prize on the official site (this offer may or may not be still available, since it was a limited time offer). I finished the quiz and got my prize from the official site which was free photos of Sarah in concert from the Harem Tour called 'The Signature Collection.' I paid for s/h, of course, but that's more than fair.
All in all, this concert is still a must-have. It is a triumphant extravaganza sure to please fans and non-fans alike. It's a spectacle, and ranks high as one of my favorite concerts."
The Angel of Music live in Las Vegas!
Clarissa | Ontario, California | 11/07/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"As everything Sarah Brightman sets her mind to do, this has been yet another unforgettable concert spectacular captured timelessly and presented to us here to enjoy time and time again. I initially feared this would dim my own "Harem" experience in comparison to this sold-out taped/recorded event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada but thankfully it's not much different so it gives me a wonderful sense of nostalgia as I watch it. Sarah's voice sounds just as pristine as when I saw her live for the first time last March and the sound is amazing when it comes to both the classical and rock musicians whom mostly play in a shallow ravine-like gorge on the stage that does rise on occasion but is hidden for the most part... The props and costumes are as elegant as ever and everyone put on a really great show, which is no surprise at all as her concerts are always quite lavish in proportion with never a dull moment. Of course Sarah could probably mesmerize an audience if only it were her and a microphone... I also enjoyed the exotic group of female dancers and got pleasant chills whenever the spellbinding backing/featured vocalists, Violet, Shweta Shetty and Kadim al-Sahir would lend their talents and sing. Many highlights for me included them; such as "No One Like You", "Arabian Nights", and "The War Is Over" where Sarah plays the piano. And yes, with today's technology the video production could have been better as the long-shots do tend to make everything look a little grainy but its truthfully not as bad as everyone's making it out to be (although I guess it could depend on what kind of TV you have).
Live setlist - 23 songs Concert running time approx. 110 minutes Dolby 5.1 and DTS 5.1 surround sound Includes second disc with special bonus features! Still haven't finished the quiz, though, to see what the prize is because every time you get an answer wrong you have to start over again and there's a lot of questions so I hope you've all done your homework and have a good memory!"
Anthony Morelli | Montreal, Canada | 10/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Just bought the DVD and returned home to watch it. Everything is simply amazing! The colors, lights, sound, costumes...it's all great. Even the editing department did great because there's no over-editing. The only thing edited is the wait between the songs & costume changes and the crowd applause has been shortened. So...almost the whole show's there in its entirety. There's lots of audience appreciation this time around, with lots of great audience shots as well!
The packaging is simple yet convenient. Everything's as it should be. For the booklet, there's no credits or anything...just enlarged, stunning photos from the show, held into the box with a little clamp on the middle spine of the case. Disc one is gold and Disc 2 is purple. Really pretty!
I appreciate having the concert on one DVD, then switching to the 2nd DVD for all the excellent goodies. They left NOTHING out of this production! If you want to get to know the dancers, band members, Frank Peterson and the Director...you've come to the right place with this DVD! I've learned even more about Sarah, just from watching David Mallet, listening to him speak of Sarah from 25 years ago.
Dics 2's Photogallery makes me wish I were part of the entourage! It's good to know that Sarah has a wonderful "production" family around her, and not to mention her adoring fans...it's all great. There's a really wonderful remix of a song (which I won't mention), during the photoshoot. You'll love it! I'll say it again...nothing was left out of this production. Sarah's DVDs just get better and better all the time!
Look for the special Harem quiz on Disc 2 with a chance to win a very special prize. ;-)
Watching the whole concert, it's no wonder Sarah performed to a sold out venue in Vegas! Everything was just right, and of course, we got to see Sarah strutting her stuff in all her glory. The only complaint i've got about the whole thing is the pixellation of the picture (during the entire show). I don't mind though because the closeup shots are remarkable and deadly good! Owning this DVD makes me happy because it was more than "worth the wait"!
All vocal aspects of the show are amazing. Sarah has outdone herself this time around! The classical/operatic numbers are amazing and actuallys stunned me! I'm liking certain songs much more now than before. "Nessun Dorma", "La Luna", "A question of honour" and "Time to say goodbye" rock! I'm looking forward to watching the whole thing over and over again, really soon! As glittery, entertaining and breathtaking the DVD & actual concert are, there's definitely a whole lot more work going into the production (which we weren't aware of). That's why I like watching the "behind the scenes" parts because we end up appreciating all the aspects of the production of something this big.
By far, the DVD outdoes the CD version! Whatever was missing on the CD, we've got quadruple the excitement just on Disc 1! Sarah and her crew are a blessing! I'm going to see Sarah on the 25th of October for a 2nd concert, and the anticipation is even worse after watching the show. I recommend this item to anyone as a gift for Christmas or anytime of the year. A great stocking stuffer!
Disc 1 Tracklist:
01- Kama Sutra 02- Harem (Cancao do Mar) 03- Beautiful 04- It's a beautiful day 05- Dust in the Wind 06- Who wants to live forever 07- Anytime, Anywhere Interlude 08- Anytime, Anywhere 09- Nella Fantasia 10- Stranger in Paradise 11- La Luna 12- Nessun Dorma 13- No one like you 14- Arabian Nights 15- The war is over 16- Free 17- What a wonderful world 18- A whiter shade of pale 19- Phantom of the Opera Suite 20- Wishing you were somehow here again 21- Time to say goodbye 22- The Journey Home 23- A question of honour
Disc 2 -- Special Bonus Features:
A "Making of" program about the tour and the DVD "All Access" backstage video tour View multiple camera angles of select songs On-stage and off-stage photo gallery of more than 500 images Harem Quiz with a very special prize
Bonus Disc Running Time more than 100 minutes"
You MUST See A Sarah Brightman Concert Before You Die
Movie Fan | Gardnerville, NV United States | 03/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was lucky enough to see her last year. I'd never been to a concert of any kind and the tickets were expensive. But Sarah gave us back $2.00 for each dollar we spent. (Note: If you go, do not buy the expensive seats on the floor around the stage. You can't see the whole show and huge stage unless you sit in seats that are up and away from the floor.)
First thing you see is the giant incense pot. The whole stadium was smoky, smelled exotic and put everyone in the mood. Then the tall, brightly colored curtain, the very loud music-- kind of too loud, but you get so caught up in the beautiful pieces she has selected. Then the dancing girls, the costumes, the great lighting. Some songs like Wonderful World had tons of red, pink and white confetti falling into the audience.Intoxicating and pulls the audience into the show too.
For the final song,Sarah literally brings down the house with A Question of Honor (my favorite) with swirling confetti, lights and a tremendous explosion at the end.
I have become a huge fan and I am now buying up all her CD's. The world is full of ugliness in the Arts anymore: filthy rappers, thugs, and other foul creatures that fancy themselves artists. Sarah Brightman has a huge talent and presence and the perfection she exposes us to in her concert gives me hope for the human race, and respite for all the cruelty and evil we see today."
NOT lip-synching, great concert, so-so video quality
David W. Brandes | Los Angeles, CA | 11/29/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I attended both the first and second concerts in Las Vegas and was present during the DVD filming during the first concert (with high power binoculars). I was also at the invitation-only DVD special filming in the afternoon before the first Vegas concert. Sarah does not lip-synch in concert or on the videos. The reason the DVD sometimes looks like this was explained technically by her producer, Frank Peterson. The concerts were spectacular and Ms Brightman's performance was incredible, as always. This DVD is really worth owning for those reasons. However, I agree with others about the quality of the filming on the DVD. It's not up to her previous standards on One Night in Eden and La Luna. It appears very grainy, just like a video tape from years ago. The DVD, Harem, A Desert Fantasy, is of much better quality and is worth owning. It's more true to the songs on the CD, some of which weren't done at the concert in Vegas. If you own both, you will not only get different quality of filming, but you will also get different songs. Despite my criticism of the image quality on the Live From Vegas Album, it is a wonderful piece. My 5-star rating was only downgraded to 4-star due to the video quality, not the performance. David "