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Opera

  • Puccini: La Boheme -- Royal Opera House/Gardelli Puccini: La Boheme -- Royal Opera House/Gardelli | DVD | (21/08/2000) from £10.59  |  Saving you £7.40 (41.10%)  |  RRP £17.99

    This full-blooded 1982 performance of Puccini's most-loved opera demonstrates just how much drive and powerful emotion can make up for a certain lack of subtlety. Cotrubas' Mimi is entirely moving in both joy and death, while never quite feeling as thoroughly frail as some of her quieter rivals; stronger tenor voices than Neil Shicoff's have recorded the role, and yet he has a Romantic passion and a dignity that many of his rivals fail to bring to the role. That under-rated singer Gwynne Howell is especially moving in Colline's farewell to his cloak--one of those perfect little showcase sections Puccini sometimes gives to minor parts. Marilyn Zschau's Musetta is broad and comic and yet somehow includes the audience in the glorious joke that her sexuality is for her; when Thomas Allen sings, to her waltz theme, of youth that is not yet dead, his ardour transcends realism. Gardelli knew this score in his bones--the production bounces along from comedy to tears to eroticism to tragedy and neither cast nor orchestra miss a single one of Puccini's wonderful touches of emotional exploitation. --Roz Kaveney

  • Albert Herring - Glyndebourne Festival Opera Albert Herring - Glyndebourne Festival Opera | DVD | (05/09/2005) from £10.59  |  Saving you £7.40 (41.10%)  |  RRP £17.99

    Set in an English market town at the turn of 20th century a gangling greengrocer's lad is crowded May King. The break with the tradition of choosing a girl is virtuous enough to May Queen... The comic opera at Glyndebourne was conducted by Bernard Haitink. 'A Vintage production with a vintage cast.' - Sunday Times.

  • La Grande-Duchesse De Gerolstein - Offenbach La Grande-Duchesse De Gerolstein - Offenbach | DVD | (09/01/2006) from £10.59  |  Saving you £5.40 (33.80%)  |  RRP £15.99

    Recorded at the Theatre Du Chatelet in Paris.

  • Offenbach: Les Contes d'Hoffmann -- Royal Opera House/Pretre [1981] Offenbach: Les Contes d'Hoffmann -- Royal Opera House/Pretre | DVD | (22/09/2003) from £10.59  |  Saving you £7.40 (41.10%)  |  RRP £17.99

    This famous and highly-praised Royal Opera production by film director John Schlesinger filmed in 1981 is as good as we are ever likely to see. The spectacular designs by Maria Bjornson and William Dudley vividly bring Hoffman's nightmare world to life. The brilliant cast is led by Placido Domingo as Hoffmann in one of his towering portrayals. He has become wholly identified with this part in a way that no other artist has.

  • La Boheme - Puccini La Boheme - Puccini | DVD | (06/12/2004) from £21.03  |  Saving you £3.96 (15.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    La Boheme - Recorded live at the Teatro degli Arcimboldi Milan February 2003 - Staged by the Teatro all Scala.

  • Verdi: Simon Boccanegra -- Metropolitan Opera/Levine Verdi: Simon Boccanegra -- Metropolitan Opera/Levine | DVD | (09/09/2002) from £14.48  |  Saving you £2.51 (14.80%)  |  RRP £16.99

    A performance of the Verdi opera 'Simon Boccanegra'. Conducted by James Levine.

  • Wagner: Tristan und Isolde [1976] Wagner: Tristan und Isolde | DVD | (15/05/2000) from £26.55  |  Saving you £3.44 (11.50%)  |  RRP £29.99

    Waltraud Meier is the stuff of which great Isoldes are made--a passionate actress who sings her heart out at every point and yet somehow keeps something in reserve from the narration and curse of the first act for the love duet of the second and the "Liebestod" of the third. Her Tristan, Jon Fredric West, is more or less her equal--he is particularly impressive in the mad death agony of the third act; his Tristan is an ordinary hero who becomes something larger. Among the other principals, Kurt Moll's Mark stands out in its eloquent heart-break, not so much a cuckold as a man who wants everything to work out right; Weikl's Kurwenal and Lipovsek's Brangane are, credibly, ordinary people caught up in great tragedy. Mehta's account of the score is solid and professional--he gets nothing wrong and everything right in a performance which survives occasionally perversely innovative staging to touch greatness. On the DVD: The DVD includes subtitles in French, German, English and Dutch. --Roz Kaveney

  • The Golden Ring - Wiener Philharmoniker/Sir Georg Solti The Golden Ring - Wiener Philharmoniker/Sir Georg Solti | DVD | (11/06/2007) from £14.67  |  Saving you £-1.40 (-10.00%)  |  RRP £13.99

    The legendary 1965 BBC film on the pioneering recording by Sir Georg Solti of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen. Filmed during the recording of Gotterdammerung in the Sofiensale with the Vienna Philharmonic, it features performances by the great Wagner singers Birgit Nilsson, Wolfgang Windgassen, Gottlob Frick, and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. The DVD also includes ORF's German-language version of the programme (Hinter den Kulissen der Gotterdammerung) featuring different interview footage with Sir Georg Solti.

  • Mozart: Cosi Fan Tutte --Gardiner Mozart: Cosi Fan Tutte --Gardiner | DVD | (14/10/2002) from £14.99  |  Saving you £0.00 (0.00%)  |  RRP £14.99

    A performance of Mozart's 'Cosi Fan Tutte' performed by the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists. Conducted by John Eliot Gardiner.

  • The Opera Gala - Live From Baden-Baden The Opera Gala - Live From Baden-Baden | DVD | (22/10/2007) from £13.45  |  Saving you £1.60 (9.40%)  |  RRP £16.99

    The new faces of opera present opera favourites in a glamorous live concert recording: Anna Netrebko El'na Garan''a Ram''n Vargas and the highly acclaimed young French baritone Ludovic T''zier sing a wide range of Italian and French opera arias. This recording features highlights from three gala concerts (28 & 31 July 3 August 2007) at Baden-Baden's Festspielhaus - surely the hottest event of the summer!

  • Madama Butterfly - Puccini [1974] Madama Butterfly - Puccini | DVD | (09/05/2005) from £14.67  |  Saving you £-1.40 (-10.00%)  |  RRP £13.99

    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

  • Monteverdi: L'Incoronazione di Poppea -- Glyndebourne [1984] Monteverdi: L'Incoronazione di Poppea -- Glyndebourne | DVD | (26/04/2004) from £10.59  |  Saving you £7.40 (41.10%)  |  RRP £17.99

    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

  • Janacek - From The House Of The Dead Janacek - From The House Of The Dead | DVD | (17/03/2008) from £14.74  |  Saving you £-1.00 (-7.10%)  |  RRP £13.99

    Leos Janacek: From The House Of The Dead, performed by various performers and conducted by Pierre Bouelz.

  • R. Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier - Royal Opera House/Solti [1985] R. Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier - Royal Opera House/Solti | DVD | (23/02/2004) from £10.59  |  Saving you £7.40 (41.10%)  |  RRP £17.99

    Strauss' dazzling opera Der Rosenkavalier set in 1740's Vienna combines farce romance and a world of weary acknowledgement of getting older. It features some of the most gorgeous music ever written for the female voice.

  • Wagner: Parsifal Wagner: Parsifal | DVD | (14/10/2002) from £18.65  |  Saving you £3.34 (15.20%)  |  RRP £21.99

    A performance of Wagner's opera 'Parsifal' featuring the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Conducted by James Levine. The action takes place in the Middle Ages. At the castle of Monsalvat cut off from the rest of the world the brotherhood of Grail Knights guards the chalice in which the blood of the crucified Saviour had once been caught. In an effort to seize possession of the Grail Klingsor a powerful magician has established his realm at the foot of the mountain peop

  • The Mikado The Mikado | DVD | (07/02/2005) from £7.92  |  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...

  • Bizet - Les Pecheurs De Perles Bizet - Les Pecheurs De Perles | DVD | (04/04/2005) from £15.80  |  Saving you £4.19 (21.00%)  |  RRP £19.99

    Widely remembered as the composer of one of the most popular operas of all time CARMEN Georges Bizet was also responsible for this lesser-known gem. Written when he was only 25 the work was not well-recieved upon its initial performance in 1863 but has since come to be appreciated for its beauty and orchestral subtlety. The libretto deals with two men King Zurga of Ceylon and his friend Nadir who are both in love with a high priestess Lla. Though each claim to be over Leila when Nadir recognizes her in the temple he cannot deny his feelings which are returned; though she has vowed celibacy they meet in secret and are discovered. The jealous Zurga condemns Lla to death but when he realizes she intervened on his behalf years ago he changes his mind with catastophic results. This production of the only Bizet opera to remain in the repertoire was performed in Venice with an extraordinary Annick Massis as Lla while the staging was executed by Pier Luigi Pizzi. Highlights of the show include Leila's aria ""Comme autrefois dans la nuit sombre "" and the stunning duet between Lla and Nadir ""Ton coeur n'a pas compris le mien.""

  • The Makropulos Case - Glyndebourne Festival Opera [1995] The Makropulos Case - Glyndebourne Festival Opera | DVD | (22/09/2003) from £10.59  |  Saving you £7.40 (41.10%)  |  RRP £17.99

    Nicolas Lehnhoff's stunning 1995 production of Janacek's extraordinary black comedy The Makropulos Case was one of the first to be recorded in the superb new opera house at Glyndebourne. It was received with unanimous acclaim especially for its star the astounding singing-actress Anja Silja. Silja won an Evening Standard Award for her performance.

  • Die Lustige Witwe - Lehar [2004] Die Lustige Witwe - Lehar | DVD | (30/05/2005) from £18.63  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Recorded Live from the Zurich Opera House 2004Based on the comedy L'Attache d'ambassade by Henri Meilhac.

  • Monteverdi: Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria -- Zurich/Harnoncourt [2002] Monteverdi: Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria -- Zurich/Harnoncourt | DVD | (10/01/2003) from £13.18  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Klaus-Michael Gruber's austere staging of Monteverdi's Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria ("Ulysses' Return") gives the impression of a sun-drenched ancient Greek island by the simplest of means: a bleached white wall against a dazzling sky-blue backcloth. It is an ideal setting for conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt's pared-down reading of the score (fewer "authentic" rasps and rattles than 25 years ago) and Vesselina Kasarova's intense, restrained performance of Penelope, all the more powerful for being held back. For example, her repeated cry of "Torna!" ("Return to me!")--an excuse for much hand-wringing on the part of some mezzos--rarely rises above mezzo-forte here. Dietrich Henschel is equally impressive as Ulisse, and uses his rich, flexible voice with inventiveness: he handles the moment of recognition with his son Telemaco (the outrageously handsome Jonas Kaufmann) beautifully. There are some off-the-rail moments to the staging which might not appeal to English theatrical tastes: Penelope's suitors are presented in a rather silly puppet show and the comedy scenes with Iro (Rudolf Schasching) fall flat. But it doesn't prevent the final moments of reconciliation and recognition reaching powerful heights. On the DVD: Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria is presented in 16:9 ratio and has PCM Stereo or Dolby Digital 5.1 sound options. There are subtitles in Italian, German, English, French and Spanish. A handsome, well-lit production is rendered on the small screen with as much subtle shading as possible by video director Felix Breisach, and falls very easily on the eye. --Warwick Thompson

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