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Opera

  • Boris Godunov - Bolshoi Opera [1987] Boris Godunov - Bolshoi Opera | DVD | (30/01/2006) from £10.41  |  Saving you £7.27 (40.40%)  |  RRP £17.99

    Boris Godunov is the quintessential Russian opera and stands as the greatest operatic product of the Russian school. This classic Bolshoi production recorded in 1987 live from the magnificent Bolshoi theatre in Moscow is a chance to see Mussorgsky's opera in a traditional Russian production.The original staging is by Leonid Baratov with designs by Fyodor Fedorovsky. After Mussorgsky's death the work was revised by Rimsky-Korsakov and this is the version sung in t

  • Nabucco - Verdi Nabucco - Verdi | DVD | (07/02/2005) from £13.99  |  Saving you £3.00 (17.70%)  |  RRP £16.99

    Verdi - Nabucco

  • Bellini: Norma Bellini: Norma | DVD | (02/04/2001) from £20.05  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    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

  • Tosca - Arena Di Verona [1984] Tosca - Arena Di Verona | DVD | (25/07/2005) from £10.81  |  Saving you £7.18 (39.90%)  |  RRP £17.99

    Tosca is a story of lust crime and idealistic young love originally written for Sarah Bernhardt. Puccini transformed it into an opera of the highest drama and passion and it became central to his career. This production by Sylvano Bussotti of one of Puccini's best loved works comes from the magnificent Roman amphitheatre in Verona and was filmed in 1984. Hungarian soprano Eva Marton is Tosca a role for which she is particularly well-known on stage. Ingvar Wixell is a superbly wick

  • King Arthur - Purcell King Arthur - Purcell | DVD | (29/08/2005) from £29.79  |  Saving you £5.20 (14.90%)  |  RRP £34.99

    A dramatic opera in five acts.A performance from the Salzburger Festspiele recorded live at the Felsenreitschule 24-28 July 2004.

  • Natural World Natural World | DVD | (25/06/2007) from £26.50  |  Saving you £-6.51 (-32.60%)  |  RRP £19.99

    Fromthe ice age and woolly mammoth to the oceans and rainforests Discovery looks at all that is incredible about our world

  • Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) -- Zurich/Harnoncourt Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) -- Zurich/Harnoncourt | DVD | (29/04/2002) from £20.91  |  Saving you £9.08 (30.30%)  |  RRP £29.99

    Conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt's approach to Le Nozze di Figaro is certainly historically informed, but both his musical direction and this Zurich Opera production as a whole lack a certain lightness of touch. In such a deliciously comic work it should be permissible to have fun. Harnoncourt's tempos seem rather too conservative; while the low stage lighting keeps the revolving sets shaded in half-shadow for much of the time. The result is a tad claustrophobic, both musically and visually. There are many compensations, however. Though Harnoncourt may be a little over-cautious, what's lost in joie de vivre is gained in clarity and nuance. Similarly, the singers have plenty of space to enunciate and cherish every rolling phrase. Although Carlos Chausson makes an appealing everyman character as Figaro, he and everyone else must perform (sometimes literally) in Rodney Gilfry's domineering shadow. Gilfry's Alamaviva is a swaggering counterpart to his Don Giovanni, with the same almost overwhelming sexual presence and charisma; no wonder, then, that Eva Mei's Countess is so jealous, or that Isabel Rey's Susanna seems genuinely attracted despite her better judgment. The ensemble cast are uniformly delightful and, unusually, are all good actors: when the Count and Countess squabble, Gilfry and Mei really work themselves into a fine passion. The set and costuming are both of indeterminate period: the Count carries a shotgun to shoot Liliana Nikiteanu's errant Cherubino, and there are deckchairs in the garden, but the ladies' costumes are cut to reveal authentically 18th-century heaving bosoms. In all, this is a Figaro distinguished by a strong cast and fine singing, but hampered a little by the staging. An airier alternative is the more traditional Glyndebourne production. On the DVD: Le Nozze di Figaro from Zurich is presented in three vivid sound options: LPCM Stereo, Dolby 5.1 or DTS 5.1. Picture is 16:9. The subtitling is occasionally unnecessarily repetitive (Figaro's "Piano, piano, piano" takes up a big chunk of the screen as: "Not so fast, not so fast, not so fast" and so on) and inadequately proofread ("Forgeive me...Falsce one" [sic&#93 ;). --Mark Walker

  • Aida - Giuseppe Verdi Aida - Giuseppe Verdi | DVD | (10/05/2008) from £4.94  |  Saving you £0.05 (1.00%)  |  RRP £4.99

    Set amidst the swirling sands of ancient Egypt Giuseppe Verdi's Aida is one of the most stirring and popular operas of all time. It is the tragic story of lovers separated by jealously and family loyalty at a time when the Pharaohs ruled.

  • Puccini: Madame Butterfly -- 1995 film version [1997] Puccini: Madame Butterfly -- 1995 film version | DVD | (04/03/2002) from £N/A  |  Saving you £N/A (N/A%)  |  RRP £19.99

    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

  • Mozart: Don Giovanni -- Vienna/Furtwangler [1955] Mozart: Don Giovanni -- Vienna/Furtwangler | DVD | (08/10/2004) from £13.99  |  Saving you £0.00 (0.00%)  |  RRP £13.99

    The incomparable Cesare Siepi stars in this legendary Salzburg production of Mozart's masterpiece. Wilhelm Furtwangler conducts the internationally renowned Vienna Philharmonic in what has become one of the definitive productions of a classic opera.

  • Luciano Pavarotti In Barcelona Luciano Pavarotti In Barcelona | DVD | (03/12/2001) from £2.50  |  Saving you £9.90 (61.90%)  |  RRP £15.99

    No longer the great operatic tenor of his heyday, Pavarotti proves in Pavarotti--Barcelona that he's still capable of remarkable things on a smaller scale. This recital mostly consists of attractive trifles, but the operatic extracts--"Un Aura Amorosa" from Cosi fan Tutte, in particular--remind us of his gift for vocal characterisation and his capacity for real subtlety. Most of the programme is made up of Neapolitan songs--many of them by Tosti, including the less common "A'Vuchella" with words by the poet D'Annunzio--where Pavarotti has a real feel for both music and words. In some of the songs, notably the two late Rossini songs "La Promessa" and "La Danza Gioacchino", he also demonstrates a sense of fun, playing with the tarantella rhythms of the latter song in a flirtatious yet still musical way. On the DVD: the disc, which is presented in 4:3 ratio, has excellent Dolby sound that gives us just enough of the ambient audience sound to remind us that this is a live performance. It comes with a short interview, a biography and discography as bonuses. --Roz Kaveney

  • Rigoletto - Verdi Rigoletto - Verdi | DVD | (09/08/2004) from £13.99  |  Saving you £3.00 (17.70%)  |  RRP £16.99

    Opera in three acts produced live at the Metropolitan Opera on 7 November 1977.

  • Puccini: Madama Butterfly -- 1974 film version/Von Karajan Puccini: Madama Butterfly -- 1974 film version/Von Karajan | DVD | (15/10/2001) from £N/A  |  Saving you £N/A (N/A%)  |  RRP £19.79

    Of all Puccinis 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 Ponelles 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 Domingos rakish Pinkerton and Mirella Frenis rubicund Butterfly. Their singing is incomparable, as is Herbert von Karajans 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

  • Billy Budd Billy Budd | DVD | (01/04/2004) from £19.19  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Benjamin Britten's opera 'Billy Budd' in two acts tells of the sadism and injustice abroad a British man-of-war.

  • Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) -- Glyndebourne [1994] Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) -- Glyndebourne | DVD | (25/10/1999) from £12.49  |  Saving you £5.50 (30.60%)  |  RRP £17.99

    Mozart's immortal adaptation of Beaumarchais' satirical tale has always been a Glyndebourne staple, so it was appropriate that this delightfully traditional production of Le Nozze di Figaro was chosen to reopen a refurbished Gyndebourne in May, 1994. Here, John Gunter's set design is airy and uncluttered, leaving the actors plenty of breathing space, while director Stephen Medcalf likewise allows the characters to speak (and sing) for themselves. Gerald Finley's Figaro and Alison Hagley's Susanna make a charming central pairing; Renee Fleming and Andreas Schmidt are a formidable aristocratic duo, while Marie-Ange Todorovitch fills Cherubino's trousers with pleasing playfulness. Haitink and the London Philharmonic sparkle, as of course they should. Unfussily filmed, this is as close to the real thing as you are likely to get without a Glyndebourne season ticket.On the DVD: This is a double-sided disc requiring a changeover between Acts 2 and 3. With a running-time of 189 minutes, the disc is no longer than some epic Hollywood movies, so such flipping is hard to justify. But at least opera lends itself to natural breaks like this. The sound options are Dolby stereo or 5.1 and the picture is in 4:3 ratio. Subtitles are provided in English, French or German and the booklet contains a plot synopsis. --Mark Walker

  • Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail - The Royal Opera - Mozart [1988] Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail - The Royal Opera - Mozart | DVD | (01/11/1997) from £10.55  |  Saving you £7.44 (41.40%)  |  RRP £17.99

    Mozart's comic masterpiece is set in a Turkish palace and tells the exciting and amusing story of the 'escape from the harem'. In this acclaimed production from The Royal Opera by Elijah Moshinsky filmed in 1988 the Turkish atmosphere is created by Timothy O'Brien's imaginative set of garden and crumbling palace strikingly complemented by Sir Sidney Nolan's colourful front and backcloths. The Spanish nobleman Belmonte is ably sung by Deon van der Walt and his beloved Konstanze is sung by Inga Nielsen with both dramatic conviction and brilliant secure coloratura. The actor Oliver Tobias gives a sensuous and powerful performance in the speaking role of Pasha Selim and Lillian Watson is a charming Blonde.

  • The Mikado The Mikado | DVD | (07/02/2005) from £6.50  |  Saving you £8.07 (50.50%)  |  RRP £15.99

    A lavish 1982 production of the Gilbert and Sullivan opera in which Nanki-Poo the son of the Mikado escaping a distasteful marriage arrives in the town of Titipu disguised as a musician...

  • Rossini: Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) -- Stuttgart [1988] Rossini: Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) -- Stuttgart | DVD | (06/03/2001) from £20.05  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    The point of a good production of Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia is to have a Rosina and a Figaro who will knock your socks off in their respective arias, while holding back enough in all those crescendo ensembles in which the farce plot reaches its several culminations that the other stars get a chance to shine too. Cecilia Bartoli and Gino Quilico give full-blooded enough performances when on stage by themselves that self-effacement seems far from imminent, yet both are capable of less, and give it when it is needed. Of the others, David Kuebler is an attractively raffish Almaviva, while Robert Lloyd turns Basilio into a memorable cameo. Gabriele Ferro is one of the most intelligent of Rossini conductors--he understands the relationship between the pulse of the music and its dramatic function, and he is also outstanding in the delicacy of phrasing, even in climaxes, that ensures that every voice, every instrument, gets the moment of glory Rossini intended. Michael Hampe's solid reliable unfussy production keeps everything moving without drawing attention to itself. The DVD has subtitles in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, as well as trailers for other Arthaus Musik discs. --Roz Kaveney

  • Verdi: Aida -- Metropolitan Opera Verdi: Aida -- Metropolitan Opera | DVD | (20/11/2000) from £13.37  |  Saving you £3.62 (21.30%)  |  RRP £16.99

    A star-studded production from New York's Metropolitan Opera with Aprile Millo and Placido Domingo in the lead roles supported by the Metropolitan Opera Chorus and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; conducted by James Levine. Please note: This is a NTSC disc please ensure the compatibility of your TV.

  • L'Amour De Loin - Saariaho [2004] L'Amour De Loin - Saariaho | DVD | (15/08/2005) from £18.99  |  Saving you £1.00 (5.00%)  |  RRP £19.99

    Kaija SaariahoL'Amour De LoinOpera in five acts

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