I listened to the OpusArte SFO Merry Widow (a 2001 performance, details here: http://www.amazon.com/Lehar-Merry-Bl...2027067&sr=1-1
) a few days ago and to parts again yesterday with my ear plugs, trying to find out exactly what is wrong with it.
To start, it is an odd DTS-HD MA 4.0 given on the box, but there is some sound from the rears, so it seems like a 6.0. The center is definitely silent. At first, the orchestra is recorded quite ok, but it falls short when we get to the voices. The male principals wear mics over their ears, the females have their mics hidden in the cleavage as seen briefly at Kirchschlager's. In addition, there are (I think very directional) stage mics every 2 to 3 feet along the stage. But the balance between the body mics and the stage mics is the problem, i.e. the stage mics pick up too much relative to the body mics. (You hear the shuffling of the feet very well.)
Whenever the singers move their heads while singing, the loudness of their voices fluctuates quite a bit, depending whether they sing towards a mic or sideways. In addition, Skovhus is louder recorded and fluctuates less, Kenny is softer recorded and fluctuates more. When the chorus is singing, she is hardly audible. The others are somewhat in the middle, not quite as loud as Skovhus, but louder than Kenny.
I checked the stereo track briefly and it is the same.
This constant up and down make this a less satisfying audio experience and I can't recommend it.
Then I remembered, that the Decca LA Traviata Blu-ray with Villazon and Fleming also suffered from this variability of the voices and I looked up the credits on both disks.
While the Merry Widow has 11 people (6 audio engineers!) involved with audio, "Audio Post Production" is given as Ken Hahn and yes, he is also the "Sound Mixer" for the Traviata production. Coincidence or responsibility?