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Verdi: La Traviata -- Royal Opera House | DVD | (12/03/2001)
from £9.50 | Saving you £4.49 (32.10%) | RRP
Angela Gheorghiu's stunning debut as Violetta from the Royal Opera House Covent Garden it was this performance that turned the Romanian soprano into an international sensation. The occasion also marked Sir George Solti's first performances of Verdi's ever-popular tragedy. World-class performances by opera's finest - Frank Lopardo (Alfredo) Leo Nucci (Germont) Leah-Marian Jones (Flora) and Gillian Knight (Annina). With Richard Eyre's dramatic staging Bob Crowley's elegant strik
Verdi - La Traviata | DVD | (12/11/2007)
from £15.39 | Saving you £1.60 (9.40%) | RRP
Acclaimed film and stage director Franco Zeffirelli spared no costs to reproduce the opulent setting of Violetta Val''ry''s happiness and downfall. The unparalleled musical quality of the production is guaranteed by some of the world''s most famous musicians: The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York conductor James Levine and singers Teresa Stratas and Placido Domingo. As Violetta soprano Teresa Stratas strikes the right balance between emotional grandeur and physical weakness. And with his meltingly lyrical voice and magnetic stage presence Placido Domingo embodies Alfredo Germont with a rarely seen passion.
Rosenkavalier - Strauss | DVD | (15/08/2005)
from £14.99 | Saving you £0.00 (0.00%) | RRP
Comedy for music in three acts.
Madama Butterfly - Puccini | DVD | (09/05/2005)
from £13.82 | Saving you £0.17 (1.20%) | RRP
Of all Puccini's major operas, the intimate tragedy of Madama Butterfly is least in need of elaborate staging and might therefore benefit most from the close scrutiny of film. The story is domestic, the setting Spartan, the incidental characters kept to a minimum. This 1974 version, however, demonstrates that Butterfly still needs a healthy injection of proscenium arch melodrama. Director Jean-Pierre Ponelle's production strives for realism but remains unfortunately studio-bound, having neither the benefit of location filming nor the heightened reality of an opera stage. The exterior is a perpetually fog-shrouded heath of indeterminate locale; the interior is cramped and unadorned. The setting is just too prosaic to contain the epic emotions of grand opera. Thankfully, the cast is superb, headed by Placido Domingo's rakish Pinkerton and Mirella Freni's rubicund Butterfly. Their singing is incomparable, as is Herbert von Karajan's musical direction of the Vienna Phil. The singers mime to pre-recorded music, which is occasionally disconcerting since when film demands close-ups opera provides broad gestures. Musically, this Butterfly is impeccable. Visually it adds nothing that could not be seen to better effect in a stage version. On the DVD: Madama Butterfly is presented disappointingly on disc in a poor NTSC transfer full of distracting graininess that makes every scene, both inside and out, look like it takes place in an omnipresent drizzle. Sound is reasonable stereo and adequate 5.0 surround. There are subtitles in the major European languages as well as Chinese, and the booklet contains a background essay plus synopsis. --Mark Walker
Bellini: Norma | DVD | (02/04/2001)
from £20.05 | Saving you £4.94 (19.80%) | RRP
Bellini's Norma, first performed in 1831, is one of the most glittering jewels in the bel canto repertoire, placing huge vocal demands on the soprano in the title role. The druid priestess who falls prey to human frail ties before redeeming her grace in the flames of the sacrificial fire must also be played with a high degree of dramatic truth. In the 20th century, two singers scaled new heights in combining these requirements: Maria Callas and Joan Sutherland. Sutherland's great achievement, preserved in this 1978 recording of Opera Australia's production at Sidney Opera House, was to render Norma a very human being, unravelling her complex reactions to the events which bring her personal world tumbling down around her. Using Bellini's deceptively simple melodies to tender effect, she reveals the essential purity of many of his greatest arias, not least "Casta diva": an equally valid alternative to Callas' pyrotechnics. Ronald Stevens as Norma's errant Roman lover Pollione and Margreta Elkins as Adalgisa, the unwitting agent of the priestess's ultimate downfall, strike vocal sparks in their duets with Sutherland. But this is essentially a treasurable record of one of the all-time great divas in a role that brought her some of her finest notices, with her husband and long-time collaborator Richard Bonynge in the conductor's box. On the DVD: In all respects, this is a solid offering with few frills. The only extra is an Arthaus trailer. The 4:3 picture format and PCM stereo-sound quality are adequate media for a theatrical performance which is very much of its time: crudely-edited plot explanations separate the acts and there is the imposition of some rather naff stills of the ill-fated lovers on flickering flames to suggest the pyre. But Sutherland's performance triumphs over all. --Piers Ford
Le Nozze Di Figaro - Mozart | DVD | (09/05/2005)
from £14.99 | Saving you £7.00 (31.80%) | RRP
This luxuriously cast film of Mozart's beloved opera buffa features a host of legendary interpretations including Kiri Te Kanawa's exquisite Countess Almaviva Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as her philandering husband Hermann Prey as the wily title character Mirella Freni a delight as his no less savvy bride Susanna and Maria Ewing hilarious as the lovesick page Cherubino. Director Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's imaginative camera-work tellingly emphasizes character and mood of this immortal story of love intrigue and class struggle set against the historical background of ancien regime Europe sliding inexorably towards revolution.
Gaetano Donizetti - La Fille du régiment / Dessay, Florez, Palmer, Corbelli, French, Campanella, Pelly (Royal Opera House 2007) | DVD | (21/04/2008)
from £6.53 | Saving you £2.00 (14.30%) | RRP
Laurent Pelly staged this new production and how the singers were perfectly cast. They gave Donizetti's opera a new life at the Royal Opera House
Cavalleria Rusticana - Mascagni / Pagliacci - Leoncavallo | DVD | (09/05/2005)
from £13.99 | Saving you £0.00 (0.00%) | RRP
The great Italian stage and screen director Franco Zeffirelli made these widely acclaimed films both starring Placido Domingo with Georges Pretre conducting the Orchestra and Chorus of La Scala. Pagliacci which co-stars the great singing actress Teresa Stratas brought Zeffirelli the coveted Emmy as Best Director in the category of Classical Music Programming. Cavalleria was filmed on location in Sicily which adds immeasurably to the power and atmosphere of this timeless story of love honour justice and violence.
Tancredi | DVD | (01/08/2005)
from £10.26 | Saving you £14.73 (58.90%) | RRP
Pirates Of Penzance - Gilbert And Sullivan | DVD | (13/12/2004)
from £7.92 | Saving you £8.07 (50.50%) | RRP
Having mistakenly been sent as an apprentice to pirates young Frederic is happy to leave his indentures on his 21st birthday. Falling in love with the beautiful Mabel one of the many daughters of Major-General Stanley he decides to marry. However the pirates are all to keen to marry the rest of Stanley's daughters! A spectacular interpretation of the Gilbert and Sullivan classic!
Conspiracy Theories | DVD | (25/06/2007)
from £N/A | Saving you £N/A (N/A%) | RRP
Uncovering some of history's most intriguing mysteries
Puccini: Madame Butterfly -- 1995 film version | DVD | (04/03/2002)
from £N/A | Saving you £N/A (N/A%) | RRP
Like the finest of film scores with its fluid beauty and succession of intensely romantic tunes, Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly has a surprisingly cinematic feel. In 1995 director Frederic Mitterand exploited this quality of the story, exposing a young woman's disillusionment against a backdrop of cultural chasms. Shot on location, with Tunisia doubling convincingly as a turn of the century Nagasaki, this Butterfly shines with fragile beauty. The house becomes a brilliantly used set; airy and full of the scent of flowers and at the same time a cage for the trapped woman. Archive footage of bygone Nagasaki is used skilfully to underline the distance between the 15-year-old bride and Pinkerton. Purists may prefer a more traditionally robust, stage-bound Butterfly, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a more visually heartbreaking interpretation. Chinese soprano Ying Huang doesn't rock the rafters with her vocal power; hers is a tender, delicately observed performance. Tenor Richard Troxton's self-seeking Pinkerton is well sung. Overall, this is a haunting cinematic treatment of an enduringly popular opera. On the DVD: Madame Butterfly is presented in a letterbox widescreen format (enhanced for 16:9 widescreen televisions). The Dolby Digital surround soundtrack engulfs the listener in some of Puccini's most memorable tunes, stringing you out and leaving you emotionally spent. The main special feature is a charming portrait of Ying Huan, providing interesting insights into how the film was made and how she won the role. --Piers Ford
Khovanshchina | DVD | (29/03/2004)
from £23.15 | Saving you £6.84 (22.80%) | RRP
Modest Mussorgsky's opera 'Khovanshchina' performed by the Vienna State Opera and Chorus and the Slovak Philharmonic Chorus from Bratislava; conducted by Claudio Abbado.
Philomena Begley - Live in Concert | DVD | (03/03/2008)
from £7.99 | Saving you £-1.03 (-12.90%) | RRP
Recorded at The Whitehall Theatre, Dundee 1990
Otello - Verdi | DVD | (12/04/2004)
from £15.39 | Saving you £1.60 (9.40%) | RRP
Filmed at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1995 this rendition of Verdi's 'Otello' is beautifully crafted by leading stars Placido Domingo and Renee Fleming. This was the first major success for Fleming at the Met and as this release illustrates she tackled the character of Desdemona wonderfully.
Agrippina - Handel | DVD | (03/10/2005)
from £19.79 | Saving you £5.20 (20.80%) | RRP
Carmen | DVD | (23/04/2012)
from £9.79 | Saving you £3.20 (24.60%) | RRP
Based on the French novel and Bizet's most popular opera which it inspired Carlos Saura's exhilarating flamenco Carmen became an instant classic on its release and was rewarded with many international accolades including Academy Award nominations and prizes at the Cannes Film Festival. The film explores the legend by staging a modern ensemble of musicians and dancers busy rehearsing a flamenco interpretation of the Carmen story. The producer and star dancer is Antonio (Antonio Gades) chooses a girl named Carmen (Laura del Sol) to play 'his' Carmen but life begins tragically to imitate art...
Monteverdi: L'Incoronazione di Poppea -- Glyndebourne | DVD | (26/04/2004)
from £11.17 | Saving you £6.82 (37.90%) | RRP
Peter Hall's lavishly staged L'Incoronazione di Poppea celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Glyndebourne in 1984 with a performance of Monteverdi's most celebrated and also most controversial opera. The score is conductor Raymond Leppard's "enhanced" edition, which he had premiered at Glyndebourne back in 1962, fully scored for a large orchestra. Much debate circles around the forces appropriate for performing Monteverdi's decidedly minimalist work, but one thing at least is certain: it didn't sound anything like this in the 17th century! Never mind, however inauthentic it may be, Leppard's big and beefy orchestral updating--including a fulsome continuo group with pairs of harpsichords, organs and cellos, as well as lute, guitar and harp--supports the weighty melodrama nicely. The singers, too, are full-bodied, led by a fruity Maria Ewing as Poppea (in various revealing outfits) sounding suitably seductive, and Dennis Bailey, oddly lovely of voice as Nero (one of the opera's controversial aspects is the heroic central role accorded to these two thoroughly wicked characters). Perhaps best of all is Robert Lloyd as Seneca, who not only boasts a profound, reverberant bass, but also looks the part under beard and toga. With an onstage chorus to lament him, Seneca's death scene is the most moving in the opera. Peter Hall's clever staging keeps the Olympians--Love, Fortune and Virtue--permanently watching from above as the venal humans below act out this tragedy of poisoned love. The no-frills DVD has subtitles in English, French, German and Spanish. --Mark Walker
La Boheme - Puccini | DVD | (06/12/2004)
from £21.03 | Saving you £3.96 (15.80%) | RRP
La Boheme - Recorded live at the Teatro degli Arcimboldi Milan February 2003 - Staged by the Teatro all Scala.
Verdi: Otello -- Royal Opera House/Solti | DVD | (29/10/2001)
from £22.99 | Saving you £12.00 (34.30%) | RRP
A coproduction by BBC Covent Garden Pioneer and the Royal Opera House of Verdi's classic opera about the Moor who loved not wisely but too well. Conducted by George Solti.