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Opera

  • The Death Of Klinghoffer The Death Of Klinghoffer | DVD | (09/02/2004) from £12.88  |  Saving you £1.11 (7.90%)  |  RRP £13.99

    An adaptation of John Adam's opera 'The Death Of Klinghoffer' which tells the story of the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship the Achile Lauro.

  • Tarare - Salieri [1988] Tarare - Salieri | DVD | (21/01/2005) from £19.16  |  Saving you £3.94 (15.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    The Salieri opera peformed at the 1988 Schwetzinger Festspiele. 'Tarare' tells the story of the Spirit Of Nature who creates new people in an attempt to cleanse the human race. The results bring love and jealousy. Sung in French.

  • Gianni Schicchi - Puccini Gianni Schicchi - Puccini | DVD | (30/05/2005) from £15.49  |  Saving you £4.50 (22.50%)  |  RRP £19.99

    Alessandro Corbelli takes the title role in Annabel Arden's whirlwind production of Puccini's compact opera in which the scheming Gianni Schicchi retrieves for himself the spoils of a disinherited family to pave the way for his daughter to marry her love.

  • Domingo - In Concert Domingo - In Concert | DVD | (28/08/2007) from £9.98  |  Saving you £N/A (N/A%)  |  RRP £18.99

  • The Cunning Little Vixen - Janacek [1995] The Cunning Little Vixen - Janacek | DVD | (15/11/2001) from £19.79  |  Saving you £5.20 (20.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen is a real charmer of an opera, a tale that shows the natural world the composer had loved from childhood in its true colours: miraculous, beautiful, mysterious but also cruel. The inspiration came from a series of illustrated stories published in a Czech newspaper. The Vixen of the title is captured by a forester and taken home as a plaything for his children. She is soon thrown out of the house and has to make her own way in the world, encountering lust, stupidity, pride, love and ultimately death. This 1995 performance was taken from the Chatelet Theatre in Paris. Visually, Nicholas Hytner's production is a triumph, the animals wonderfully wittily wrought (the mosquito with its syringe for a nose, the mangey old dog, distasteful in baggy Y-fronts, the hideous, goggle-eyed frog). And it's also brilliantly cast: Eva Jenis's Vixen is funny, sexy, endearing and youthful enough in voice and figure to convince. Thomas Allen is a veteran of the role of the Forester, a huge presence and singing in impeccable Czech. In fact, there's not a weak performance here, and that goes for the dancers and instrumentalists as well as the singers. And at the helm, who better than Sir Charles Mackerras, arguably the greatest living interpreter of Janacek's music? This is in essence a grown-up fairy tale, ravishingly done and extremely highly recommended. On the DVD: The Cunning Little Vixen is presented on disc in vividly remastered PCM stereo, with 16:9 picture format that does full justice to the alluringly colourful designs. The disc is encoded for regions 2 and 5, and the menu and subtitle languages are English, German, French and Spanish. The useful booklet gives coherent background information and synopsis as well as full casting details. There's also a substantial (23-minute) trailer of other offerings from Arthaus Musik. --Harriet Smith

  • Hamlet - Ambroise Thomas Hamlet - Ambroise Thomas | DVD | (06/09/2004) from £15.19  |  Saving you £2.80 (15.60%)  |  RRP £17.99

    Staged at the Gran Teatro Del Liceu in Barcelona October 2003 this opera - written by Ambroise Thomas - is performed by the Symphony Orchestra And Chorus of the Gran Teatro Del Liceu; conducted by Bertrand De Billy.

  • Janacek: Jenufa -- Glyndebourne [1989] Janacek: Jenufa -- Glyndebourne | DVD | (22/06/2001) from £19.93  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Janacek's masterpiece Jenufa, captured in this 1989 Glyndebourne Festival Opera production, is among the most revived modernist works. Compared with much grand opera, the story of one woman's struggle to rise free from social constraints at a terrible cost is remarkably poignant, credible and accessible. Scenes are short and intense. The music shimmers with Janacek's characteristic blend of sweetness and sharp dissonance. His men are damaged and angry; his women kick against the expectations of convention. Tragedy is inevitable, but here, unusually, hope triumphs. In the title role, Roberta Alexander is utterly convincing as the stepdaughter of the Kostelnicka Buryja, placing her love and trust in the wrong man with dire consequences. As the Kostelnicka, Anja Silja turns in an equally towering performance, unravelling with the awful consequences of her pragmatism. Alexander's fluid soprano reveals the extraordinary beauty of some of Janacek's finest arias: the moment when she becomes supernaturally aware of her baby's fate--it's "as if death was peering into the house!"--and is actually singing prayers for its soul is quite overwhelming. This Jenufa is sung splendidly; a revelation of the essential humanity which lurks at the heart of the greatest operas. On the DVD: This production was filmed for Channel 4 and has all the hallmarks of a 1980s television broadcast: standard 4:3 picture format which limits the impact of Tobias Hoheisel's magnificent expressionistic set; PCM stereo which somewhat dulls Andrew Davis' sterling, powerful work at the helm of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (although the principal singers shine through); poor subtitles; and static freeze-frame links between scenes. As a record of an important production, though, it suffices. --Piers Ford

  • Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show [2008] Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show | DVD | (30/06/2008) from £1.75  |  Saving you £15.51 (77.60%)  |  RRP £19.99

    30 Days And 30 Nights - Hollywood To The Heartland Hit the road with Vince Vaugn as he takes on America's heartland with the wildest comedy tour of all time. Friends like Justin Long Jon Favreau and Dwight Yoakam join Vince and four of today's brightest comics for a 30 city 30 night laughfest where the comedy doesn't stop. So hitch a ride on the tour bus and go behind the scenes - it's a party you'll never forget.

  • Rodelinda - Glyndebourne Festival Opera Rodelinda - Glyndebourne Festival Opera | DVD | (05/09/2005) from £10.24  |  Saving you £7.75 (43.10%)  |  RRP £17.99

    Handel wrote his Italian opera Rodelinda at the height of his musical powers and it is considered to be one of his greatest with music of astonishing power and beauty. This highly praised production filmed in 1998 was the first ever staging of a Handel opera by the Glyndebourne Festival Opera. Jean-Marie Villegier's stylish production sets Handel's tale of royal exile and fidelity in the silent movie era. Starring Anna Caterina Antonacci in a glamorous portrayal of Rodelinda an

  • Giordano: Andrea Chenier - Royal Opera House/Rudel [1985] Giordano: Andrea Chenier - Royal Opera House/Rudel | DVD | (23/02/2004) from £12.09  |  Saving you £5.90 (32.80%)  |  RRP £17.99

    Giordano's Andrea Chenier is one of the greatest of verismo operas, full of heart-stopping big tunes and powerful emotional situations. If it is not as well-known as it should be, it is because in summary it sounds a little too like Puccini's Tosca: there is a tussle between political opponents over a woman, an attempt to save a condemned man, a tenor aria about writing poetry on the eve of execution. The difference is that Gerard (Giorgio Zancanaro) is not a villain like Scarpia, he is an idealist whom the French Revolution has betrayed as much as it has his rival the poet Chenier (Placido Domingo). His temptation to abuse his power to seduce the virtuous Maddalena (Anna Tomowa-Sintow) is a momentary one, though its consequences are terrible. There is a streak of post-Wagnerian decadence in much of this--Maddalena is at least as much in love with death as she is with Chenier, and the final love duet has a deeply sinister aspect. Domingo is at his best in this Covent Garden Opera House performance from 1985; at once ardent and serious-minded, we believe in his Chenier as a poet and political figure. Conductor Julius Rudel gives the rich score all the weight and lyricism it demands and the Covent Garden chorus is at its occasional best in the scenes of revolutionary excess. On the DVD: Andrea Chenier is presented a little disappointingly in NTSC format and 4:3 picture ratio. At least the sound is sumptuous Dolby Digital 5.0. Subtitles are in English, French, German, Spanish and Japanese. --Roz Kaveney

  • Rossini: La Cenerentola (Cinderella) -- Houston Rossini: La Cenerentola (Cinderella) -- Houston | DVD | (25/06/2001) from £8.95  |  Saving you £1.60 (9.40%)  |  RRP £16.99

    Rossini's opera recorded live in Houston in November 1995. Bruno Campanella conducts the Houston Symphony Orchestra and the Houston Grand Opera Chorus.

  • Britten: Owen Wingrave - Berlin/Nagano Britten: Owen Wingrave - Berlin/Nagano | DVD | (22/12/2003) from £20.05  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Owen Wingrave is perhaps Britten's most radical opera, both politically and artistically. Originally written for television, and here presented in a 2001 Channel 4 version, the 1970 score is based, like The Turn of the Screw, on a Henry James ghost story. Britten, though, is more in tune than James with the pacifism into which Owen revolts from a long family tradition of military service. The fluid, impassioned, often declamatory music given Owen makes him one of the most sympathetic of Britten's outsider protagonists, though he has a streak of self-centredness, which stops him being an implausible paragon. Gerald Finley is quite admirable in the part, conveying fully the sense that by losing and dying at the hands of family ghosts, Owen demonstrates the integrity which is central to his character. The other parts are admirably filled here, notably Martyn Hill as Owen's harsh General grandfather, Josephine Barstow as his aunt and Charlotte Hellekant as the fiancee who unknowingly sends him to his death. They and Elizabeth Gale are quite extraordinary in the first act quartet of recrimination and condemnation. This excellent performance compares vocally with the original on almost entirely equal terms--modern technology means that the ghost scenes are far more dramatic and plausible. Kent Nagano and the Berlin Orchestra do full subtle justice to the chamber orchestra sonorities of one of Britten's most interesting scores, never overstressing its complex musical architecture at the expense of the drama. On the DVD: Owen Wingrave is presented in a widescreen 16:9 visual aspect ratio with PCM stereo sound. It is accompanied by The Tender Heart, a documentary about Britten's career full of personal reminiscences by his surviving friends, colleagues and family, that concentrates on Peter Grimes, the War Requiem and Death in Venice, the three popular masterpieces of his early, middle and late career. It has menus and subtitles in English, French, German and Spanish. --Roz Kaveney

  • Tchaikovsky: Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades) Tchaikovsky: Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades) | DVD | (24/03/2003) from £13.32  |  Saving you £3.67 (21.60%)  |  RRP £16.99

    In terms of vocal power, lyrical beauty and idiomatic authenticity, the casting for this 1992 live recording of the Kirov production of Pique Dame ("The Queen of Spades") could hardly be bettered. Gegam Grigorian (Herman) hits his fearsome, anguished high notes with the accuracy of a laser and Maria Gulegina (Liza) has a voice the size of the QEII but uses it with great subtlety--her opening duet with Pauline floats like gossamer, and her declarations of love for Herman at the end of Act 1 are spine-tingling. Kirov superstars Sergei Leiferkus (Tomsky) and rich-toned Olga Borodina (Pauline) also sound divine. In the pit Valery Gergiev renders every nuance of Tchaikovsky's score with clarity, and drives the strings to produce an almost unbearably tense atmosphere of foreboding; Herman's manslaughter of the Countess is preceded by shallow, haunted phrases which rise and fall like a beating heart. It isn't all rosy, however. The production comes from the traditional old Kirov "stand-and-sing" tradition and is somewhat static. The characters don't interact with much detail or generate much chemistry, and the chorus moves in unwieldy blocks. For a more gripping production (though not quite as well sung) try the Glyndebourne performance. But for sheer musical pleasure, you won't find anything to beat this. On the DVD: Pique Dame doesn't feature particularly inventive camerawork, though it does give a good solid account of the production. The sound recording captures all the most important moments with clarity, though just occasionally singers stray away from the microphones. There are subtitles in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Chinese, and some trailers for other Universal Music DVDs. --Warwick Thomson

  • Puccini: La Boheme -- Zeffirelli film version [1967] Puccini: La Boheme -- Zeffirelli film version | DVD | (12/06/2006) from £129.95  |  Saving you £N/A (N/A%)  |  RRP £19.99

    Zeffirellis 1963 Milan production of La Boheme, preserved in this 1965 film, provides a richly satisfying take on Puccinis much-loved romantic tragedy. The staging is opulent, not least in the way Zeffirelli opens up the Cafe Momus and turns it into a warm, vibrant haven for the bohemians and their followers. But its the relationships which really matter here. Puccinis score--conducted with restrained passion by Herbert von Karajan--develops in a wonderfully linear way, with some of his most intensely moving arias and duets underpinning the evolution of the bohemian artists, particularly Rodolfo and Marcello, from immature egotists to rounded human beings, touched by tragedy. The film does look dated now--Mirella Frenis Mimi, sung with moving clarity, has the doe-eyed look of a 1960s pop star and the camera work is a tad unsophisticated--but the singing still puts the listener through the wringer. Gianni Raimondis Rodolfo ("Che gelida manina") struggles manfully to come to terms with his emotional shortcomings and Adriana Martino (Musetta) has some fine comic moments before playing her vital part in the overwhelming sadness of the final scenes. Soul food for the tragically inclined. On the DVD: La Boheme has no extras here, but excellent booklet notes accompany the disc. The PCM Stereo soundtrack has been digitally remastered to decent effect. The 4:3 picture format inevitably imposes some limitations and the 1960s video quality is a little dull, but after all, this is a product of its time and a vital record of one of Zeffirellis most successful productions.--Piers Ford

  • Mozart: Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) -- Ludwigsburg/Gonnenwein Mozart: Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) -- Ludwigsburg/Gonnenwein | DVD | (20/04/2001) from £9.99  |  Saving you £8.81 (35.30%)  |  RRP £24.99

    In Die Zauberflöte, Mozart and his librettist Schikaneder brought off an extraordinary feat, uniting two seemingly unrelated theatrical genres--pantomime and straight play. The first is represented by the comic antics of the birdcatcher, Papageno, the second in a series of rituals through which a Prince and his lady pass in search of true love. This production from the Ludwigsburger Festspiele in 1992 in a minimalist staging by Axel Manthey with sets and costumes by him and Alexander Lintl, offers a clearly delineated path through a sophisticated and worldly plot that can be bewildering on first acquaintance. Claps of thunder herald evil in the presence of the Queen of the Night and Monostatos, while a white dove introduces Papageno and a larger one carries the three boys who lead the couple on their journey of enlightenment. Their departure in silhouette makes a touching finale to Act One. But no opera production in recent years seems to eschew some whim or trendy idea of the producer: here we have Sarastro's priests with shaved heads, the three boys dressed for a school sports day and a Papageno kitted out in knickerbockers who one fears might break into "I love to go a-wandering a knapsack on my back". Much more stylish are the Three Ladies, emissaries of the Queen of the Night, shapely figures in their striking royal blue and red dresses. The musical direction is in the safe hands of Wolfgang Gonnenwein who favours the occasional swift tempo as in the "March" to Act Two. The cast includes one exceptional singer, the soprano Ulrike Sonntag as Pamina, happily partnered by Deon Van Der Walt as Tamino. Thomas Mohr is the characterful Papageno and Andrea Frei as the Queen of the Night makes good the coloratura runs of her fiendishly difficult arias, though sounds less secure in her slow music. As Sarastro, Cornelius Hauptmann makes up for some wooden acting with his sonorous bass. One takes away from watching this production a renewed admiration for Mozart and his librettist for an opera that, in its mixture of spoken dialogue and musical numbers, anticipates by 150 years the musical shows of Rodgers and Hammerstein. --Adrian Edwards

  • Falstaff - Giuseppe Verdi - The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden [1983] Falstaff - Giuseppe Verdi - The Royal Opera House, Covent Garden | DVD | (07/05/2007) from £12.09  |  Saving you £5.90 (32.80%)  |  RRP £17.99

    Verdi was almost eighty when he startled the musical world with his mastery of comic invention in his last opera Falstaff with its brilliant libretto by Arrigo Boito. The story is taken from Shakespeare's play The Merry Wives of Windsor although the central character is much closer to the Falstaff of Henry IV. The roguish Sir John embroils himself in numerous plots and dupes of love and marriage until eventually the Merry Wives get their revenge on him and all plans are thwarted. When Carlo Maria Giulini returned to conducting public performances of opera after an absence of fourteen years he chose this comic masterpiece for the occasion. The great lyric baritone Renato Bruson sings the title role. Katia Ricciarelli leads the trio of merry wives with Lucia Valentini-Terrani as Mistress Quickly and Brenda Boozer as Meg Page. Leo Nucci sings the role of Ford and the young lovers are here portrayed by Dalmacio Gonzalez and Barbara Hendricks. Stunning designs by Hayden Griffen and Michael Stennett provide the perfect setting for this witty interpretation of Shakespeare's masterpiece.

  • La Clemenza Di Tito - Mozart La Clemenza Di Tito - Mozart | DVD | (03/01/2006) from £14.99  |  Saving you £15.00 (50.00%)  |  RRP £29.99

    Commissioned for the coronation of Leopold II in Prague Mozart's last opera is a deep humane reflection on relationships power and forgiveness. With the composition of some of the most beautiful passages in his oeuvre Mozart has succeeded in giving this opera seria both a noble sobriety and transparent instrumentation to which this commanding production by the Hermann partnership does full justice on all levels. Susan Graham's most extraordinary Sesto and Christoph Pregardien's Superb Tito set the standard for this riveting Opera National de Paris Performance conducted by the outstanding Sylvain Cambreling.

  • La Cenerentola [2005] La Cenerentola | DVD | (30/01/2006) from £15.99  |  Saving you £7.40 (24.70%)  |  RRP £29.99

    Vladimir Jurowski and Sir Peter Hall are re-united for a fresh and vibrant but timelessly elegant production of Rossinin's much-loved setting of the Cinderella story with a fine cast led by Ruxandra Donose in the title role. Filmed in June 2005 with high definition cameras and recorded in multi-track 5.1 surround sound

  • R. Strauss: Die Frau Ohne Schatten -- Salzburg Festival/Solti [1992] R. Strauss: Die Frau Ohne Schatten -- Salzburg Festival/Solti | DVD | (09/09/2002) from £18.65  |  Saving you £3.34 (15.20%)  |  RRP £21.99

    A performance of Richard Strauss' opera 'Die Frau Ohne Schatten' performed at the Salzburg Festival in 1992.

  • Strauss: Arabella [1995] Strauss: Arabella | DVD | (16/04/2001) from £17.69  |  Saving you £-3.70 (-26.40%)  |  RRP £13.99

    Like most of his later operas, Richard Strauss' Arabella ends with a meltingly lovely duet. But then criticising Strauss for composing melodically enduring operas is as pointless as lambasting Vermeer for painting only exquisite interior scenes. Those who say Strauss never improved on Rosenkavalier may be right but when such beguiling sounds kept coming from his music for the next 30 years of his life, there shouldn't be any quibbles. Arabella is, in a nutshell, the story of a woman who cannot make up her mind about a suitor. Taped at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1994 under the baton of conductor Christian Thielemann, this production features Kiri Te Kanawa in the title role; her acting is mediocre but vocally she never forces anything and at least sounds like the perfect Arabella. Wolfgang Brendel does well with Mandryka, who finally ends up with Arabella and Marie McLaughlin makes a sympathetic younger sister to the heroine as Zdenka. Otto Schenk's production is sturdily conservative, the video transfer is acceptable if unspectacular and the sound mix is CD-quality. --Kevin Filipski, Amazon.com

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