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Opera

  • Albert Herring - Glyndebourne Festival Opera Albert Herring - Glyndebourne Festival Opera | DVD | (05/09/2005) from £11.09  |  Saving you £6.90 (38.40%)  |  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.

  • 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.

  • Mozart: Don Giovanni -- Zurich/Harnoncourt Mozart: Don Giovanni -- Zurich/Harnoncourt | DVD | (12/03/2002) from £7.49  |  Saving you £N/A (N/A%)  |  RRP £29.99

    In this Zurich Opera House staging of Mozart’s darkly comic cautionary fable Don Giovanni the lighting and stage design keep the characters shaded in half-shadow: even Zerlina’s wedding feels like a subdued affair here, and the Don’s banqueting room is a suitably gloomy venue for the Stone Guest’s climactic visit for a spot of dinner and damnation. Both this staging and video director Brian Large’s filming play no tricks with the audience’s expectations, opting for a largely traditional presentation of this tragedy of swaggering bravado, cuckolded lovers and revenge from beyond the grave. Nikolaus Harnoncourt brings all the sensitivity of his historically informed approach to the orchestra pit. Heading a very strong cast are Rodney Gilfry, defiantly strong-voiced but also haughtily handsome as the seducing Don, and Cecilia Bartoli, a mercurial presence as Donna Elvira. Their scenes together crackle and fizz, even when Bartoli’s extremely ripe vibrato contrasts a little uncomfortably with Harnoncourt’s authenticity. Liliana Nikiteanu makes for a pretty, naïve Zerlina, convincingly torn between her Masetto (Oliver Widmer) and the animalistic attraction of the Don. Laszlo Polgar’s Leporello is wheedling and base, but still the inheritor of his master’s charisma; Isabel Rey and Roberto Sacca are solid as the colourless moralists Anna and Ottavio; while Matti Salminen’s powerful Commendatore isn’t expected to do anything more than stand still and declaim. Overall this is an excellent musical performance, unexceptionally staged. On the DVD: Don Giovanni on disc has a good 24-minute "Behind the Scenes" feature, including interviews with Cecilia Bartoli, Harnoncourt, Gilfry and Isabel Rey. There’s also a trailer for other ArtHaus releases. The 16:9 picture sometimes struggles to bring definition to the dimly lit sets; sound though is crisp and clean PCM stereo or Dolby 5.1. There are subtitles in five languages. --Mark Walker

  • The Cunning Little Vixen - Janacek [1995] The Cunning Little Vixen - Janacek | DVD | (15/11/2001) from £6.95  |  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

  • A Midsummer Night's Dream - Glyndebourne Festival Opera [1981] A Midsummer Night's Dream - Glyndebourne Festival Opera | DVD | (02/08/2004) from £11.09  |  Saving you £6.90 (38.40%)  |  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

  • 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

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

    Verdi - Nabucco

  • Handel: Xerxes [1988] Handel: Xerxes | DVD | (16/08/2000) from £21.35  |  Saving you £3.64 (14.60%)  |  RRP £24.99

    The English National Opera has always had an attractively light touch in Handel; this classic production, designed by Nicholas Hytner (director of The Madness of King George and The Crucible), manages to preserve both the work's occasional passion and its undercutting of that passion into urbane absurdity. Anne Murray's Xerxes is a tyrant in love, who learns the hard way that he can neither play with, nor command, his subjects' affections; her forthright declamatory singing, not least in the famous "Larghetto", conveys both the petulance and the final grandeur of a man undergoing a sentimental education. Valerie Masterson and Christopher Hudson, as the principal pair of lovers, combine perfect singing with an attractive romantic ardour; Hudson in particular makes clear just how heroic a counter-tenor can sound, listened to without preconceptions. In the soubrette role of Atalanta, Lesley Garrett is a cute trouble-maker. Sir Charles Mackerras' conducting gives each of the genre arias of which the work consists both an appropriate intensity of emotion and an overall charm. The English libretto is by Hytner. The recording is decent PCM stereo and the picture, originally produced for TV broadcast, is in 4:3 ratio. --Roz Kaveney

  • 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 £12.95  |  Saving you £4.84 (19.40%)  |  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

  • Tristan Und Isolde - Wagner Tristan Und Isolde - Wagner | DVD | (08/03/2004) from £17.99  |  Saving you £4.00 (18.20%)  |  RRP £21.99

    A performance of Richard Wagner's opera 'Tristan Und Isolde'....

  • Turandot - Puccini [1988] Turandot - Puccini | DVD | (15/09/2003) from £11.68  |  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

  • Verdi: La Traviata -- Venice [1992] Verdi: La Traviata -- Venice | DVD | (10/04/2000) from £7.40  |  Saving you £6.90 (38.40%)  |  RRP £17.99

    This performance of Verdi's La Traviata comes from the Gran Teatro La Fenice, Venice in 1992. The intimacy and social realism of the story make it one of the most dramatically successful of all operas, while the score contains some of the finest music of the 19th century. Despite the strong production values and well-staged party scenes, any production of La Traviata stands or falls on the performers in the vital roles of the lovers Violetta and Alfredo, and that of Alfredo's father, Giorgio. Here Giorgio Zancanaro is suitably decent and morally serious as Giorgio, and Neil Shicoff makes a strong impression as an ordinary man suddenly overwhelmed by love. The drawback is that--and there is no polite way to say this--Edita Gruberova is not only too old to play the sparkling young society girl, Violetta, but she is a much better singer than she is an actress. She comes into her own in the tragic last act, but is otherwise awkward and uncomfortable when the part requires her to demonstrate confidence and sensuality. This remains a production with considerable merits, but overall a more dramatically, not to say visually, compelling version is that originally broadcast world-wide live from Paris in 2000 starring Eteri Gvazava and José Cura.On the DVD: The production is presented at 4:3 with above average picture quality for a live opera DVD, and with excellent PCM stereo sound. The disc and booklet both offer a synopsis, but other than the option to watch with or without subtitles there are no special features. --Gary S. Dalkin

  • Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg - Wagner Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg - Wagner | DVD | (17/01/2005) from £12.39  |  Saving you £9.60 (43.70%)  |  RRP £21.99

    A performance of Wagner's opera 'Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg'.

  • Masters of Cinema - Judex/Nuits Rouges Masters of Cinema - Judex/Nuits Rouges | DVD | (25/08/2008) from £7.69  |  Saving you £17.30 (69.20%)  |  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.

  • The Flying Dutchman - Wagner The Flying Dutchman - Wagner | DVD | (09/05/2005) from £11.68  |  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.

  • Puccini: Madame Butterfly -- 1995 film version [1997] Puccini: Madame Butterfly -- 1995 film version | DVD | (04/03/2002) from £26.50  |  Saving you £-8.00 (-40.00%)  |  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

  • Aria [DVD] [1987] Aria | DVD | (15/06/2009) from £6.25  |  Saving you £13.74 (68.70%)  |  RRP £19.99

    Conceived developed and produced by Don Boyd Aria is a completely unique film both structurally and also in the sheer scale of the production itself. Ten of the world's most creative and celebrated directors were each given the same brief; to choose a piece of opera music and then present a visual interpretation of that music. The result is by turns erotic violent funny and poignant. The stills photographers assigned to each were equally celebrated among them David Bailey Annie Leibovitz Lord Snowdon Terry O'Neill and John Swannell. The impressive cast list includes John Hurt Tilda Swinton Bridget Fonda and Elizabeth Hurley Teresa Russell. A remarkable collective achievement Aria is a cinematic experience like no other.

  • 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 £6.62  |  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

  • Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera [1975] Verdi: Un Ballo in Maschera | DVD | (22/04/2002) from £24.09  |  Saving you £10.90 (31.20%)  |  RRP £34.99

    A 1975 Royal Opera House production of Verdi's opera Un Ballo In Maschera. Conducted by Claudio Abbado and directed by Otto Schenk.

  • Wagner - Tannhauser Wagner - Tannhauser | DVD | (29/09/2006) from £18.89  |  Saving you £16.10 (46.00%)  |  RRP £34.99

    Wagner:Tannhauser (2 Discs)

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