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Opera

  • Verdi - La Traviata [2007] Verdi - La Traviata | DVD | (12/11/2007) from £16.59  |  Saving you £0.40 (2.40%)  |  RRP £16.99

    A lavish period production of Verdi's best -loved opera featuring two of today's most celebrated stars - American soprano Renee Fleming and Mexican tenor Rolando Villazon. The tragic love-story of the courtesan Violetts and her young admirer Alfredo Germont is set to some of the most popular in all opera, including the irresistible Brindisi (Drinking Song) and Violetta's thrilling Act One finale Sempre Libera. For this performance, filmed live in Los Angeles, the role of Alfredo's father is sung by the great Verdi baritone Renato Bruson.

  • Puccini: La Boheme -- Royal Opera House/Gardelli Puccini: La Boheme -- Royal Opera House/Gardelli | DVD | (21/08/2000) from £11.09  |  Saving you £6.90 (38.40%)  |  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

  • Mozart: Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) -- Metropolitan Opera/Levine Mozart: Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) -- Metropolitan Opera/Levine | DVD | (24/03/2003) from £14.21  |  Saving you £2.78 (16.40%)  |  RRP £16.99

    A performance of Mozart's 'The Magic Flute' by puppet theatre.

  • Natural World Natural World | DVD | (25/06/2007) from £12.99  |  Saving you £N/A (N/A%)  |  RRP £19.99

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

  • The Golden Ring - Wiener Philharmoniker/Sir Georg Solti The Golden Ring - Wiener Philharmoniker/Sir Georg Solti | DVD | (11/06/2007) from £13.72  |  Saving you £-1.05 (-7.50%)  |  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.

  • Verdi: La Forza del Destino [1998] Verdi: La Forza del Destino | DVD | (16/08/2000) from £12.40  |  Saving you £3.44 (13.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    This is a 1998 performance from the Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg of the original 1862 St Petersburg version of Verdi's La Forza del Destino. While the world famous version premiered in Italy in 1867 is the superior work, few will want to miss the rare opportunity to see and hear such a well-staged version of Verdi's first thoughts. Here the earlier libretto by Francesco Maria Piave is restored, the original, considerably darker ending is intact and even the sets are constructed to the 1862 designs. There are other differences, though the story remains the familiar mixture of love, misunderstanding and war, the characters ranging from the nobility to monks, soldiers and gypsies, the tone spanning low comedy to high drama. The result is a lavish production, full of life and vitality, shot through with musical urgency and some tremendously powerful singing. Particularly striking is Gegam Grigorian, making a commanding Don Alvaro, whose role here is rather more expansive than in the later version. Galina Gorchakova reprises her Leonara from the 1997 CD recording of the work with passionate intensity, and conductor Valéry Gergiev keeps the epic scale tightly focused. The direction for video unobtrusively brings out the heart of the drama on stage.On the DVD: The disc is presented at 16:9 and is anamorphically enhanced for widescreen televisions. The result is a good but not exceptional picture with clear PCM stereo sound. Other than the booklet and the option to view with or without subtitles there are no special features. --Gary S. Dalkin

  • Ivan The Terrible - Prokofiev Ivan The Terrible - Prokofiev | DVD | (27/06/2005) from £3.19  |  Saving you £11.80 (78.70%)  |  RRP £14.99

    Ballet in Two ActsIn 1942 Sergey Prokofiev was commissioned by Sergey Eisenstein to write music for his film Ivan the Terrible. The score caught the attention of highly acclaimed choreographer Yuri Grigorovich who set out to make the material and music into a self-contained ballet. But it took until the 1970s for the idea of this ambitious project to be put into action with the help of Mikhail I. Tchulaki director of the Bolshoi who composed a ballet score for the new production on the basis of Eisenstein's musical film material. The score of Ivan the Terrible is a collage of no less than 377 fragments of the original film score but also of other works by Prokofiev.

  • Tosca - Puccini [1976] Tosca - Puccini | DVD | (09/05/2005) from £11.42  |  Saving you £5.40 (31.80%)  |  RRP £16.99

    Opera is an inherently theatrical medium that does not lend itself readily to the realism of film treatment. The shining exception is Puccini's Tosca, an action-packed melodrama that unfolds in three taut and gripping acts, like the meatiest of Hollywood films noir. And unlike most operas, these three acts are set in three very specific Roman locales. Thus this 1976 film takes place in the church of Sant'Andrea della Valle (Act 1), the Palazzo Farnese (Act 2) and the Castel Sant'Angelo (Act 3). The evocative settings, however, would be mere window-dressing if the cast wasn't just right; fortunately here Placido Domingo is at his virile peak in the heroic tenor role of Cavaradossi; Raina Kabaivanska is a sultry, vocally beautiful Tosca; while a more infamous and domineering Scarpia than that of Sherrill Milnes can hardly be imagined. Bruno Bartoletti and the New Philharmonia Orchestra give lustily dramatic support. Here the music and vocals are pre-recorded and the singers mime to the playback. Occasionally the result is a little unnatural, but overall the cast are good enough actors to bring off the conceit even in the close-ups. It all pays off triumphantly with the gripping realism of the rooftop finale, the one place where film can improve on stage. With the authenticity of the settings assured and such distinguished leads singing so well, this is an almost ideal filmed Tosca. On the DVD: Tosca on disc is presented in 4:3 ratio with a choice of Dolby 5.1 or LPCM Stereo. The picture is adequate but a little flat (possibly because the format is NTSC not PAL) and the same can be said for the sound, which does what it should but is never revelatory. Subtitles are provided in the main European languages and Chinese. --Mark Walker

  • Khovanshchina Khovanshchina | DVD | (29/03/2004) from £7.99  |  Saving you £4.54 (15.10%)  |  RRP £29.99

    Modest Mussorgsky's opera 'Khovanshchina' performed by the Vienna State Opera and Chorus and the Slovak Philharmonic Chorus from Bratislava; conducted by Claudio Abbado.

  • Turandot - Puccini [1988] Turandot - Puccini | DVD | (15/09/2003) from £11.42  |  Saving you £1.95 (11.50%)  |  RRP £16.99

    Puccini's 'Turandot' performed by the Metropolitan Opera. Artists include: Eve Marton and Placido Domingo. Conducted by James Levine. Directed by Franco Zeffirelli. Sung in Italian

  • Mozart: Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) -- Ludwigsburg/Gonnenwein Mozart: Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) -- Ludwigsburg/Gonnenwein | DVD | (20/04/2001) from £3.19  |  Saving you £21.80 (87.20%)  |  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

  • Powder Her Face [1999] Powder Her Face | DVD | (12/12/2005) from £7.82  |  Saving you £12.17 (60.90%)  |  RRP £19.99

    A performance of Thomas Ades first opera Powder Her Face. The story follows the Duchess of Argyll as she looks back at her life. Ades' brilliant score incorporates skewed imitations of the popular music of her prime: tangos tea dances and Cole Porteresque songs. The fifteen strong orchestra consists of clarinets saxophones brass strings accordion and percussion an emsemble similar to the dance bands of yesteryear. Adapted and filmed specially for television in stu

  • Charlie and Lola - 2 Charlie and Lola - 2 | DVD | (15/05/2006) from £4.20  |  Saving you £3.20 (40.10%)  |  RRP £7.99

    Charlie And Lola is a fun-filled and imaginative animated series for young children. It focuses on the relationship between brother and sister Charlie and Lola and tells the story of how they handle the little issues that they as young children encounter everyday.

  • Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin -- film version/Solti [1988] Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin -- film version/Solti | DVD | (03/06/2002) from £13.52  |  Saving you £1.50 (8.80%)  |  RRP £16.99

    It's a common complaint that opera singers can't act, and actors can't sing opera. In this handsome 1988 film of Tchaikovsky's opera Eugene Onegin, director Petr Weigl attempts to solve the problem by letting each group of performers do what they do best. Thus the music is a studio recording with some great voices in the principal roles, and the film is a lip-synched performance shot in stunning locations by a good-looking cast of players. On the positive side this means that the whole thing looks gorgeous, and sun-drenched dachas, glittering ballrooms and snowy steppes are all captured with painterly verve. The musical performances are also splendid, with Bernd Weikl making a passionate, tortured Onegin, Teresa Kubiak a honeyed, fresh-sounding Tatyana, and Solti conducting with driven intensity. But realism and opera rarely make happy bed-fellows, and the down-side of this film is that the naturalistic "speaking-style" lip-synching and understated acting are entirely at odds with the grand musical gestures, and occasionally give rise to a somewhat absurd alienation effect. Thus while Kubiak's voice is at full blast, Magdalena Vasaryova looks like she's making polite chit-chat at a cocktail party. But the project feels like a brave experiment, nonetheless, and if the whole isn't quite the sum of its different elements, those elements are still jolly good. On the DVD: Eugene Onegin on disc has excellent picture quality (which is fortunate in such a visually exquisite film), though the sound is a little distant and muffled. The film starts with the entry of the peasants in Act 1, but the DVD includes the Prologue and music before this point as an audio bonus. There are subtitles in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Chinese, and a series of trailers for other Decca DVDs. --Warwick Thompson

  • The Ultimate Opera Collection The Ultimate Opera Collection | DVD | (14/05/2007) from £7.95  |  Saving you £10.90 (54.50%)  |  RRP £19.99

    Titles Comprise: CARMEN by Bizet from the St. Margarethen Opera Festival 1998 AIDA by Verdi from the St. Margarethen Opera Festival 1997 DON GIOVANNI by Mozart from the Prague National Theatre 1991 TOSCA by Puccini from the O'Keefe Centre Toronto 1989 NABUCCO by Verdi from the St. Margarethen Opera Festival 2000.

  • The Flying Dutchman - Wagner The Flying Dutchman - Wagner | DVD | (09/05/2005) from £11.42  |  Saving you £1.95 (11.50%)  |  RRP £16.99

    One of the most acclaimed Wagner productions of the postwar period this electrifying revolutionary Bayreuth staging of The Flying Dutchman catapulted the German director Harry Kupfer to international fame. Kupfer's psychologically acute production presents the entire story as a hallucination in which Senta's yearning for the eternally wandering Dutchman sends her into a trance-like state. Senta is sung by Danish soprano Lisbeth Balslev the American bass-baritone Simon Estes portrays the Dutchman while the Finnish bass Matti Salminen is Daland.

  • Wagner: Parsifal Wagner: Parsifal | DVD | (14/10/2002) from £12.39  |  Saving you £9.60 (43.70%)  |  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

  • Verdi: Don Carlos [1996] Verdi: Don Carlos | DVD | (20/11/2000) from £12.69  |  Saving you £7.30 (36.50%)  |  RRP £19.99

    This is a 1996 all-star-cast version from Paris of the original French version of Verdi's epic five-act opera, Don Carlos. First produced in 1867, only Wagner would write musical drama on a grander scale, and due to the three-and-a-half-hour running time most subsequent productions have made substantial cuts. This is therefore a rare opportunity to witness Verdi's tragedy in its entirety.Set in the 16th century in the aftermath of war between Spain and France, Don Carlo (Roberto Alagna), the heir to the Spanish throne comes to France to meet with his beloved Elizabeth de Valois (Karita Mattila). Inevitably politics divide the lovers, and while Rodrigue (Thomas Hampson) falls in with Flemish rebels, the Inquisition is determined to be the power behind the peace. This is certainly not Verdi's greatest work, but it contains great music and the stars are allowed to shine with strong characterisations in an elegantly designed production. There are no gimmicks or attempts at spurious contemporary relevance here, simply singers of the calibre of Alagna, Mattila, Hampson, plus the outstanding Eric Halfvarson as the Grand Inquisitor. This is a production that continues in the 19th-century tradition, and in the process delivers the frisson of world-class opera. --Gary S. DalkinOn the DVD: While the running time precludes much in the way of special features, via DVD-ROM the libretto can be printed in French, together with an article and biographies. The picture is presented at approximately 1.7:1 and while far superior to video could still benefit from anamorphic enhancement. The sound is stereo or excellent Dolby Digital 5.0. The booklet offers a detailed synopsis in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish and there are subtitles in the same languages. The disc is encoded for regions two to six. --Gary S. Dalkin

  • Nabucco - Verdi Nabucco - Verdi | DVD | (07/02/2005) from £11.59  |  Saving you £5.40 (31.80%)  |  RRP £16.99

    Verdi - Nabucco

  • La Grande-Duchesse De Gerolstein - Offenbach La Grande-Duchesse De Gerolstein - Offenbach | DVD | (09/01/2006) from £11.29  |  Saving you £4.70 (29.40%)  |  RRP £15.99

    Recorded at the Theatre Du Chatelet in Paris.

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