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Opera

  • Masters of Cinema - Judex/Nuits Rouges Masters of Cinema - Judex/Nuits Rouges | DVD | (25/08/2008) from £8.59  |  Saving you £16.40 (65.60%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Judex (1963): The magical rarely seen Judex directed by the great Georges Franju (Eyes Without a Face) was largely unappreciated at the time of its release in 1963. This lyrical and dreamlike picture a putative remake of Louis Feuillade's own 1916 Judex is as evocative of the silent master's own works as it is the later films of Jean Cocteau and Salvador Dali. A French reviewer wrote in 1963: The whole of Judex reminds us that film is a privileged medium for the expression of poetic magic. Starring the magician Channing Pollock the divine Edith Scob and the mesmerising Francine Berg'' Judex concerns a wicked banker his helpless daughter and a mysterious avenger. It plays like a fairy tale one in which Franju creates a dazzling clash between good and evil eschewing interest in the psychological aspects of his characters for unexplained twists and turns in the action. The beautifully controlled imagery superbly rendered by Marcel Fradetal's black-against-white photography animates a natural world and the spirits of animals all at war with a host of diabolical forces. Franju's Judex and Nuits Rouges both paid overt homage to the surreal silent serial-works of Feuillade. Scripted in collaboration with Feuillade's grandson Jacques Champreux these films evince the same poetic magic that made the art of that earlier master a cause c''l''bre not only for the Surrealist movement but also for the world renowned Cin''math''que Fran''aise. It was the Cin''math''que (co-founded by the legendary Henri Langlois with Franju) that helped resurrect the reputation of Feuillade decades after he'd slipped out of the public consciousness. Nuits Rouges (1973): Nuits Rouges [Red Nights] released in the UK as Shadowman was the second Franju Champreux meditation upon the films of Feuillade. It aggressively escalates a pulp atmosphere steeped in shocking turns of events to an even more vertiginous level. Here the object of pursuit is the fabled treasure of the mythical order of the Knights Templar which the filmmakers use as the jump-off point for staging a series of fantastic set-pieces. As the Fant''mas-esque arch-criminal (known only as The Man Without a Face played by Jacques Champreux himself) violently pursues the treasure the action intensifies amongst a cadre of post '68 bohemians the Paris police bureau and a cult of cowled conspirators. The Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present Georges Franju's two most mindbending films on DVD in the UK for the first time.

  • Rossini: L'Italiana in Algeri (The Italian Girl in Algiers) [1987] Rossini: L'Italiana in Algeri (The Italian Girl in Algiers) | DVD | (04/12/2000) from £6.60  |  Saving you £3.94 (15.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    L'Italiana in Algeri, Rossini's first real hit as a writer of comic opera, is one of those almost unsinkable works difficult to get entirely right. Michael Hampe's production for the 1987 Schwetzinger festival captures both its charm and its sense of menace--the court of the Bey is both a setting for farce and a place in which the Italian characters are at the mercy of a despot who will not necessarily find things funny. Gunther von Kannen's Mustafa is a convincing Bey of Algiers, with all the arrogance of power and the vulnerability to mockery that goes with it. His adversary, the tough witty proto-feminist Isabella, is given real presence in Doris Soffel's performance--it is entirely credible, listening to her throaty mezzo, that everyone else should be more-than-a-little in love with her. The slightly effete tenor of Robert Gambill as her lover Lindoro makes him a perfect partner in intrigue for her. Conducting Rossini is not just a matter of winding the crescendos up and letting them go; Ralf Weikert is particularly fine in the complicated finale of Act One with its imitations of bells and drums and its complicated vocal lines. The DVD comes with menu material in English, French, German and Spanish, and with English, French and German subtitles; the stereo sound is particularly crisp. --Roz Kaveney

  • Homage A Sevilla - Placido Domingo Homage A Sevilla - Placido Domingo | DVD | (19/03/2007) from £10.50  |  Saving you £3.49 (24.90%)  |  RRP £13.99

    Placido DomingoHommage A SevillaWith scenes from Don Giovanni, Carmen, Fidelio, Il Barbiere Di Siviglia, La Forza Del Destino, El Gato Montes.

  • 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.

  • Turn Of The Screw - Britten Turn Of The Screw - Britten | DVD | (21/01/2005) from £18.99  |  Saving you £6.00 (24.00%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Benjamin Britten's haunting and sinister opera composed in 1954 is based on the famous novella written by Henry James in 1898. Katie Mitchell's atmospheric and innovative film of the opera returns to the late 19th century setting of the original tale to a world where it is hard to tell ghosts from mere reflections in the glass. There have been many discussions about what happened to the children in both the novella and Britten's opera. This production with an inspired cast led by excellent performances from Lisa Milne and Mark Padmore remains true to both sources. The rich dark imagery entices the viewer exposing the deepest layers of the tantalising unnamed and hidden past relationships between the two servants and the children in one of the greatest operas of the 20th century.

  • Red Star Red Army Chorus And Dance Ensemble Red Star Red Army Chorus And Dance Ensemble | DVD | (24/04/2006) from £10.59  |  Saving you £7.40 (41.10%)  |  RRP £17.99

    This concert given by the magnificent Russian troupe the Red Star Red Army Chorus and Dance Ensemble was recorded at the Tchaikovsky Hall in Moscow prior to a nationwide tour of the United States in the autumn of 1992. The 100-strong Ensemble was first formed within the USSR armed forces in 1977 performing concerts primarily for the army. Their repertoire ranges from popular folk tunes and songs of battle from all corners of the former Soviet Union to spectacular Cossack dancing and includes Glinka's Patriotic Song and Kamarinskaya Rimsky- Korsakov's Flight of the Bumblebee and folk songs Kalinka Dark Eyes A Birch Tree Stood in the Meadow Happy Girl and Seven Sons-in-Law. All are performed with energy enthusiasm and patriotic fervour.

  • Verdi: Il Trovatore -- Opera Australia [1983] Verdi: Il Trovatore -- Opera Australia | DVD | (05/06/2002) from £21.25  |  Saving you £3.74 (15.00%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Il Trovatore, Verdi's 1853 maelstrom of passion, infanticide, double-crossing and revenge, would be a mightily gamy affair if it didn't contain some of his finest arias, a cracker of a tenor's role and one of opera's most powerfully-written characters in the old gypsy woman, Azucena. Although Joan Sutherland, who plays the self-sacrificing lady-in-waiting Leonora in this 1983 Australia Opera production at Sydney Opera House, is the headline star, in truth the supreme assets of this recording are mezzo-soprano Lauris Elms' Azucena, a beautifully sung performance of haunted, wild-eyed sadness; and Sydney Nolan's wonderfully infernal sets, all purple and burnt ochre with suggestions of distorted faces. Sutherland came late to a part which allowed her to sing up a storm without taxing her rather stolid acting style. Her husband and musical director Richard Bonynge gives her the space to unleash some of Verdi's most fluidly opulent melodies--"D'amor sull'ali rosee" is a case in point--whose beauty is often at odds with the underlying horrors of the tale, based on a rather dodgy Spanish melodrama by Gutierrez. Sutherland has strong support from tenor Kenneth Collins as the doomed Manrico and Jonathan Summers as the vengeful Count. On the DVD: Il Trovatore on disc offers the inevitable shortcomings of a filmed for television performance: to the detriment of Nolan's designs (and the hard-pressed make-up team), the lighting doesn't translate well to video. Presented in 4:3 picture format, the quality is frequently murky. The PCM Stereo soundtrack also has its flat and fuzzy moments, particularly during chorus scenes ("Vedi! Le fosche notturne spoglie") when the orchestra drowns out the singing. But on the whole Sutherland et al sound great.--Piers Ford

  • Die Zauberflote - Mozart [1989] Die Zauberflote - Mozart | DVD | (29/05/2006) from £21.25  |  Saving you £3.74 (15.00%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Mozart: Die Zauberflote (Ostman)

  • Cecilia Bartoli - Live In Italy [1998] Cecilia Bartoli - Live In Italy | DVD | (25/06/2001) from £9.64  |  Saving you £7.35 (43.30%)  |  RRP £16.99

    Cecilia Bartoli gives a performance from Teatro Olimpico Vincenza Italy. The tracklist includes 'Voi Che Sapete' Seguedille' and many more.

  • Donizetti: La Fille du Regiment (Daughter of the Regiment) [1974] Donizetti: La Fille du Regiment (Daughter of the Regiment) | DVD | (24/09/2007) from £19.01  |  Saving you £5.98 (23.90%)  |  RRP £24.99

    The Daughter Of The Regiment - Opera in Two Acts by Gaetano Donizetti.Recorded at the Wolf Trap Festival 1974.

  • Tosca's Kiss Tosca's Kiss | DVD | (06/09/2004) from £14.59  |  Saving you £-0.60 (-4.30%)  |  RRP £13.99

    Daniel Schmid's film set in a home for retired opera singers in Casa Di Riposa in Milan. Characters are seen re-enacting their greatest moments in a film which centres on the aging process and inspirational music

  • A Gala Concert With Joan Sutherland And Marilyn Horne A Gala Concert With Joan Sutherland And Marilyn Horne | DVD | (06/08/2001) from £6.63  |  Saving you £11.47 (57.40%)  |  RRP £19.99

    In 1986 one of opera's legendary partnerships was celebrated in A Gala Concert with Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne at Sydney Opera House. Under the musical direction of Sutherland's husband and long term conductor Richard Bonynge, the great soprano and mezzo soprano treated their audience to an epic evening of solos and duets from works with which they had long since become indelibly linked. The concert was preserved and transmitted as an Esso-sponsored night at the opera by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Each diva is given ample room to shine individually. Here in all their glory are Sutherland's "Les Oiseaux dans la Charmille", the mechanical doll's aria from Offenbach's Tales of Hoffmann and Horne's "Iris, Hence Away" from Handel's Semele. Magical duets include "Serbami Ognor si Fido" (Rossini's Semiramide), "Viens Mallika, les Lianes en Fleurs" (Delibes' Lakme, much-used in their advertisements by British Airways) and of course the "Barcarolle" from Hoffmann. The overwhelming effect is of their passion for the music and the great professional respect and friendship which Sutherland and Horne clearly feel for each other as two of the greatest champions of the bel canto repertoire in living memory. Essential viewing for anyone remotely interested in operatic history. On the DVD: Digitally restored and remastered from the original tape, this disc at least offers the benefit of crystalline PCM stereo sound quality. In all other respects, it is a television production which inevitably shows its age. The curtain calls and long waits between every item, while Horne and Sutherland are fetched singly or together by Bonynge, are interminable and should have been cut. The 4:3 picture format is sharp enough and reveals the cumbersome dullness of the staging in all its glory. But none of this detracts from the wonder of two appealing prima donnas near their vocal peak. --Piers Ford

  • 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.

  • Rudolf Nureyev's Romeo And Juliet [1995] Rudolf Nureyev's Romeo And Juliet | DVD | (10/04/2000) from £10.59  |  Saving you £7.40 (41.10%)  |  RRP £17.99

    The combination of Prokofiev's masterful score with Nureyev's choreography for the ballet company of the Paris Opera could hardly make this Romeo and Juliet anything but a success. However, as it's Nureyev, God is in the detail, and while the sheer exuberance of Manuel Legris and Monique Loudieres in the leading roles is undeniable, it's the little things that count, such as Romeo's shyness as he shuffles from one foot to another in the presence of the object of his affections (it's one thing to do dying swans and amorous raptures, but not everyone can effectively choreograph a fidget). The production is visually stunning, although there's an am-dram overstatedness to the glary lighting thatcan take one aback somewhat. What's very good indeed, however, is the presence of surround and stereo audio options and a multi-angle option, which are all too often omitted altogether from dance DVDs. The booklet notes are detailed but unfussy.--Roger Thomas

  • A Midsummer Night's Dream - Glyndebourne Festival Opera [1981] A Midsummer Night's Dream - Glyndebourne Festival Opera | DVD | (02/08/2004) from £12.43  |  Saving you £5.56 (30.90%)  |  RRP £17.99

    Benjamin Britten's enchanting opera adapted from Shakespeare's most English play is just the thing for a summer evening at Glyndebourne. In Peter Hall's magical and highly-acclaimed production for Glyndebourne Festival Opera filmed in 1981 the wood literally comes alive a perfetc setting for the mystical world of lovers fairies and rustics. The gorgeous and imaginative sets costume and lighting designs are by John Bury. Ileana Cotrubas is a majestic Tytiana James Bowman is a

  • Boris Godunov - Mussorgsky [1992] Boris Godunov - Mussorgsky | DVD | (05/08/2002) from £8.00  |  Saving you £0.00 (0.00%)  |  RRP £14.99

    The legendary Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky helmed his one and only opera in 1983 with this famed production of Mussorgsky's 'Boris Godunov'. Staged at London's famed Royal Opera House the staging features Robert Lloyd giving a masterful performance in the title role. Conductor Valery Gergiev known primarily for his fine work leading St. Petersburg's Kirov Opera takes the baton.

  • Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail - Mozart [1980] Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail - Mozart | DVD | (01/08/2005) from £12.15  |  Saving you £2.84 (18.90%)  |  RRP £14.99

    Recorded at the Glyndebourne Festival Opera 1980

  • Verdi - Macbeth Verdi - Macbeth | DVD | (22/10/2007) from £14.99  |  Saving you £7.00 (31.80%)  |  RRP £21.99

    Verdi Macbeth

  • Tosca - Puccini [1976] Tosca - Puccini | DVD | (09/05/2005) from £15.39  |  Saving you £1.60 (9.40%)  |  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

  • 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

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