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Opera

  • Handel: Ariodante [1996] Handel: Ariodante | DVD | (23/06/2000) from £20.05  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Ariodante makes extraordinary vocal and acting demands, which the English National Opera brilliantly fulfils in a curious combination of baroque music and post-modern production styles. Handel's intensely emotional arias and the surreal staging combine their energies with powerful impact, aided by some imaginative choreography and a remarkable English singing translation of the Italian text. The subject is the painfully complex love entanglements of five characters: pure idealism and raging jealousy, nefarious plots and deceptions, unscrupulous exploitation, and opportunism, hopelessness mounting to the brink of insanity. The plot, as often happens in baroque opera, is riddled with improbabilities, exaggerations, and coincidence, but they matter not at all. It is essentially no more than a framework on which Handel mounts music of tender passion, rage, delirious joy, hope, resignation--nearly three hours of unrestrained emotional intensity and vocal brilliance. Ann Murray and Joan Rodgers are appealing as the young lovers Ariodante and Ginevra, but the show is nearly stolen by countertenor Christopher Robson as the villainous Polinesso, who convinces Ariodante that Ginevra has been unfaithful. Lesley Garrett performs brilliantly as Polinesso's dupe and accomplice, Dalinda, and Ivor Bolton conducts with a fine sense of baroque style. --Joe McLellan, Amazon.com

  • The Three Tenors Christmas [1999] The Three Tenors Christmas | DVD | (29/10/2007) from £8.99  |  Saving you £-1.00 (-12.50%)  |  RRP £7.99

    1. Medley: White Christmas - Let It Snow - Oh Tannenbaum - Ay! Para - Navidad2. Tu Scendi Dalle Stelle3. Carol Of The Drum4. Medley: Ave Maria, Dolce Maria- Brahms' Wiegenlied5. Jingle Bells6. Medley: Children of Christmas - La Virgen Lava Panales - I'll Be Home for Christmas7. Adeste Fideles8. Cantique de Noel (O Holy Night)9. Amazing Grace10. Feliz Navidad11. Silent Night12. Pregaria (El Cant de L'Anima a la Verge)13. Medley: Winter Wonderland - Strauss's Wiegenlied - Sleigh Ride - Susani14. Un Nuevo Siglo15. Medley: Dormi, O Bambino - Happy Christmas/ War Is Over

  • Mozart: Die Enftuhrung Aus Dem Serail (Abduction from the Seraglio) [1995] Mozart: Die Enftuhrung Aus Dem Serail (Abduction from the Seraglio) | DVD | (11/02/2002) from £8.85  |  Saving you £11.14 (55.70%)  |  RRP £19.99

    Peter Ustinov presents this production of Mozart's opera at the world famous Salzburg Marionette theatre.

  • Oedipus Rex - Stravinsky Oedipus Rex - Stravinsky | DVD | (13/06/2005) from £15.39  |  Saving you £1.60 (9.40%)  |  RRP £16.99

    Opera-oratorio in two acts. Poem after Sophocles by Jean Cocteau.

  • Zimmerman: Die Soldaten [1991] Zimmerman: Die Soldaten | DVD | (14/03/2002) from £20.05  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Opera doesn't come harder hitting than Die Soldaten, Bernd Alois Zimmermann's gripping attempt to reinvent the medium from the Modernist perspective of the 1950s and 60s. Those for whom opera means the Italian and French classics will blanch at the stinging vocal writing and complex orchestral contribution replete with jazz combo and electronics in Zimmerman's only work in the genre. Yet Jakob Lenz's story of the dehumanising quality of war needs no apology, and Harry Kupfer's intricate yet explicit staging--relishing the many opportunities for simultaneous action--pulls no punches. Nancy Shade is persuasive as the awkward adolescent Marie, whose naiveté leads relentlessly to her downfall. Michael Ebbecke is sympathetic as Stolzius, her jilted lover and avenger, while William Cochran is properly brutish as Desportes, the officer who initiates her spiral of decline. Bernhard Kontarsky gets a dedicated response from his Stuttgart Opera forces, who perform with belief in this often excessive but always engrossing work. On the DVD: Die Soldaten on disc has a sharp 4:3 picture and PCM stereo sound that shows little sign of age. Director Hans Hulscher has captured with real immediacy the impact of this 1989 production. There are subtitles in four European languages, and a detailed introduction and synopsis in the booklet. The special feature, however, is merely an ArtHaus trailer: a production such as this really deserves a background feature to reinforce its significance and value. --Richard Whitehouse

  • Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin -- film version/Solti [1988] Tchaikovsky: Eugene Onegin -- film version/Solti | DVD | (03/06/2002) from £5.99  |  Saving you £2.41 (14.20%)  |  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

  • Les Troyens - Hector Berlioz [2000] Les Troyens - Hector Berlioz | DVD | (05/09/2002) from £19.00  |  Saving you £10.99 (36.60%)  |  RRP £29.99

    The gates of Troy are open again after a ten-year siege. The Greek troops appear to have departed the battlefield - their fleet of ships having disappeared over the horizon. Rejoicing at such an unexpected victory the Trojen citizens pour out of their city to take a look at what the Greeks appear to have left behind: a giant wooden horse which they take to be an offering to pallas Athene. The only one among them not to be lulled into the general festive spirit is Cassandra who has seen Hector's ghost wandering the city ramparts with a look of foreboding about him - she senses impending disaster. Nobody pays any heed to her warnings however least of all her suitor Coroebus who tries in vain to soothe her with a tender serenade. In the presence of King Priam and Hecuba his queen the Trojens thank the gods for their safe release. But a shadow is cast over the festivities with the appearance of Hector's widow Andromache and their son Astyanax her silent mourning a memorial to those sacrificed in the long years of fighting.

  • Don Giovanni - Mozart Don Giovanni - Mozart | DVD | (14/03/2005) from £9.75  |  Saving you £7.00 (31.80%)  |  RRP £21.99

    The Opera Don Giovanni drama in two acts.

  • Donizetti: L'Elisir D'Amore (The Elixir of Love) Donizetti: L'Elisir D'Amore (The Elixir of Love) | DVD | (11/03/2002) from £14.65  |  Saving you £1.34 (8.40%)  |  RRP £15.99

    It's hard to think of a couple better suited to play the romantic leads in Donizetti's comedy L'Elisir d'amore than husband-and-wife team Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu. Both are charming on stage, and both have voices to die for: Gheorghiu's dark liquid tones are particularly spine-tingling, and her coloratura abilities awe-inspiring, and though Alagna has mainly concentrated on the more spinto (powerful) roles of the tenor repertoire, in 1996 when this live production was recorded his voice was just a little fresher and lighter and thus perfect for the bel canto gracefulness of Donizetti's writing. His performance of "Una furtiva lagrima", for example, is meltingly sung and free from all temptation to overplay the high notes. Frank Dunlop's 1920s-set production doesn't quite produce the belly laughs some stagings manage (in Dulcamara's patter song, for example), but has a certain small-town wistful charm nonetheless. The orchestral accompaniment under Donizetti expert Evelino Pidò is spot on, and never falls into the banal "oom-pah" trap that such simple writing can often lead to. Overall, it's a production of great charm. On the DVD: L'Elisir d'amore comes to disc with a 52-minute film on the history of the opera and its recording, with contributions from Alagna and Gheorghiu, and subtitles in English, French, German, Spanish and Chinese. The Lyon opera house is particularly well set up for video recording, and Brian Large does a sophisticated job of capturing a live performance: it's hard to believe at some points that the cameras aren't actually on stage in the middle of the action. Just occasionally this leads to the singers not knowing where to look and seeming a trifle lost, but generally the performances work superbly well on the small screen. --Warwick Thomson

  • Verdi: Otello -- Royal Opera House/Solti [1992] Verdi: Otello -- Royal Opera House/Solti | DVD | (29/10/2001) from £23.99  |  Saving you £11.00 (31.40%)  |  RRP £34.99

    A coproduction by BBC Covent Garden Pioneer and the Royal Opera House of Verdi's classic opera about the Moor who loved not wisely but too well. Conducted by George Solti.

  • Prince Igor [1998] Prince Igor | DVD | (06/10/2003) from £18.65  |  Saving you £-3.66 (-24.40%)  |  RRP £14.99

    Borodin's opera 'Prince Igor' performed by the Kirov Opera and Ballet. Tracklisting; Act 1 No. 2 Chorus of the Polovstan Maidens no. 3 Dance of the Polovtsian Maidens No. 4 Cavatina No. 6 recitative & Cavatina No. 7 Duet no. 8 Aria No. 9 Scena No.10 Aria No. 11 Recitative No. 12 Polovstian Dances & Chorus. Act 2 - No. 13a-c Chorus & Song No.13d-e Maidens Chorus & Scena No. 13f-g Song in Honour of Prince Galitsky Act 2 - No. 14 Arioso No. 15 Scena No.16 Scene No. 17 Fin

  • Peter Grimes Peter Grimes | DVD | (22/09/2003) from £12.09  |  Saving you £5.90 (32.80%)  |  RRP £17.99

    Benjamin Britten's powerful opera 'Peter Grimes' is considered to be one of the masterpieces of the 20th century. In this famous production by Elijah Moshinsky for The Royal Opera Canadian tenor Jon Vickers stars as the complex and misunderstood fisherman. The conductor is Sir Colin Davis who worked for several years with the cast of this production resulting in a masterly interweaving of characters in this gripping drama. ""One of the most riveting operatic impersonations o

  • 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 £10.24  |  Saving you £5.54 (22.20%)  |  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

  • Delius - A Village Romeo And Juliet [1992] Delius - A Village Romeo And Juliet | DVD | (08/09/2003) from £5.44  |  Saving you £8.55 (61.10%)  |  RRP £13.99

    Shot on location Peter Weigl's film is a spell binding version of Delius's operatic masterpiece. Based on the timeless tragedy of Romeo and Juliet the fate of the young lovers Vreli and Sali is mysteriously linked to the enigmatic Dark Fiddler. The drama is set in nineteenth century Switzerland and includes the celebrated 'Walk To Paradise Garden'.

  • Exploring The Northumberland Coast Path [2007] Exploring The Northumberland Coast Path | DVD | (17/12/2007) from £14.99  |  Saving you £N/A (N/A%)  |  RRP £16.99

    Join Keith Hartnell as he explores the six stages of this beautiful coastal path exploring the many fascinating places of interest and meeting some of the characters that make this part of the North East so special. Stunning widescreen digital film makes this DVD the perfect souvenir for anybody interested in Northumberland. The Northumberland Coast is best known for its sweeping beaches rolling dunes high rocky cliffs and isolated islands. Amidst this striking landscape is the evidence of an area steeped in history covering 7000 years of human activity. A host of conservation sites including two National Nature Reserves testify to the great variety of wildlife and habitats also found on the coast. The special qualities of this coastal landscape led to it being designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty.

  • Lehar - Der Zarewitsch Lehar - Der Zarewitsch | DVD | (13/08/2007) from £12.45  |  Saving you £0.40 (2.40%)  |  RRP £16.99

    Lehar: Der Zarewitsch - The Tsarevich

  • Linda Di Chamounix - Donizetti [1996] Linda Di Chamounix - Donizetti | DVD | (29/05/2006) from £21.03  |  Saving you £3.96 (15.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    From the Zurich Opera House September 1996 with the Chor des Opernhauses Zurich and Orchester der Oper Zurich conducted by Adam Fischer.

  • Dinosaur Hunter Dinosaur Hunter | DVD | (05/05/2008) from £2.00  |  Saving you £3.04 (38.00%)  |  RRP £7.99

    Dinosaur hunting has become the great craze across America, and the Creath family have got the bone hunting fever. Lured by both the reward money and the excitement of finding a real dinosaur skeleton, they join in the rush for dinosaur fossils.Dinosaur expert Jack McCabe suspects that there are rare and valuable dinosaur bones in the area and he is willing to pay handsomely for any information. However, no-one is expecting Hump Hinton, McCabe's greatest rival, who, seeking fame and fortune, is willing to do just about anything to get his hands on the valuable old bones.An adventurous tale of love and treachery, 'The Dinosaur Hunter' discovers the importance of honesty, trust, and above all, family.

  • Verdi: Aida -- San Francisco/Navarro [1981] Verdi: Aida -- San Francisco/Navarro | DVD | (11/05/1998) from £12.09  |  Saving you £5.90 (32.80%)  |  RRP £17.99

    This spectacular 1981 San Francisco production of Aida, directed by Sam Wanamaker, boasts production values more commonly associated with Hollywood to portray scenes from the time of the Pharaohs, notably a striking interior for the temple of Vulcan from where Radames is sent forth on his mission to conquer the invading Ethiopian army. With Margaret Price in the title role and Luciano Pavarotti as Radames, there is much going for this version, both musically and visually. Price and Pavarotti are in superb voice throughout. Pavarotti sings his initial aria, "Celeste Aida", very much as a showpiece, ignoring Verdi's quadruple pianissimo ending for the very opposite, milking (dare one say it) the audience for a thunderous round of applause which he duly receives! Initial doubts about his commitment to the drama, however, are dispelled in Act 3 when he denies Amneris his hand and bids farewell to life entombed in the same temple from where he'd once been sent forth as conqueror. Margaret Price may not be a natural actress but her singing throughout, particularly in the concluding farewell with Pavarotti ("O terra, addio"), is very touching. Stefania Toczyska is a compelling Amneris and no more so than when she's offering Radames a lifeline at the start of the last act. With assured conducting from Garcia Navarro, this Aida is a very desirable acquisition. On the DVD Aida on disc has both subtitles and surtitles, depending on the picture image, in the main European languages. Brian Large's direction for video homes in on the salient points of the drama and also picks up on an uncomfortable looking extra or two in the "Grand March" where space on stage seems at a premium. The picture quality and sound are satisfactory.--Adrian Edwards

  • 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

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