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Opera

  • Gershwin: Porgy And Bess [1992] Gershwin: Porgy And Bess | DVD | (14/05/2001) from £7.99  |  Saving you £N/A (N/A%)  |  RRP £15.99

    This production is directed by Trevor Nunn and is based on his highly successful Glyndebourne staging in 1986/87 which was revived at Covent Garden in the autumn of 1992 with most of the original cast including Willard White and Cynthia Haymon. Immediately after that performance the production was moved to the giant stage at Shepperton Studios with much expanded sets and lighting. It was then recorded using the original award-winning EMI soundtrack. The romance and beauty of this tender story its dramatic development and the sheer vitality of the characters come alive in this exciting visual production.

  • Cosi Fan Tutte - Mozart [1983] Cosi Fan Tutte - Mozart | DVD | (29/05/2006) from £24.14  |  Saving you £5.85 (19.50%)  |  RRP £29.99

    Dramma giocoso in due atti K588 in two acts.Recorded live at The Kleines Festspielhaus Salzburg August 1983.

  • Verdi: Aida -- San Francisco/Navarro [1981] Verdi: Aida -- San Francisco/Navarro | DVD | (11/05/1998) from £12.69  |  Saving you £5.30 (29.50%)  |  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

  • Tchaikovsky: Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades) Tchaikovsky: Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades) | DVD | (24/03/2003) from £11.11  |  Saving you £5.88 (34.60%)  |  RRP £16.99

    In terms of vocal power, lyrical beauty and idiomatic authenticity, the casting for this 1992 live recording of the Kirov production of Pique Dame ("The Queen of Spades") could hardly be bettered. Gegam Grigorian (Herman) hits his fearsome, anguished high notes with the accuracy of a laser and Maria Gulegina (Liza) has a voice the size of the QEII but uses it with great subtlety--her opening duet with Pauline floats like gossamer, and her declarations of love for Herman at the end of Act 1 are spine-tingling. Kirov superstars Sergei Leiferkus (Tomsky) and rich-toned Olga Borodina (Pauline) also sound divine. In the pit Valery Gergiev renders every nuance of Tchaikovsky's score with clarity, and drives the strings to produce an almost unbearably tense atmosphere of foreboding; Herman's manslaughter of the Countess is preceded by shallow, haunted phrases which rise and fall like a beating heart. It isn't all rosy, however. The production comes from the traditional old Kirov "stand-and-sing" tradition and is somewhat static. The characters don't interact with much detail or generate much chemistry, and the chorus moves in unwieldy blocks. For a more gripping production (though not quite as well sung) try the Glyndebourne performance. But for sheer musical pleasure, you won't find anything to beat this. On the DVD: Pique Dame doesn't feature particularly inventive camerawork, though it does give a good solid account of the production. The sound recording captures all the most important moments with clarity, though just occasionally singers stray away from the microphones. There are subtitles in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Chinese, and some trailers for other Universal Music DVDs. --Warwick Thomson

  • Verdi: La Traviata -- Glyndebourne [1988] Verdi: La Traviata -- Glyndebourne | DVD | (31/10/2000) from £15.83  |  Saving you £9.16 (36.70%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Performances of La Traviata stand or fall to an unusual extent on their principal soprano; the first thing that needs saying about this Glyndebourne performance is that Marie McLaughlin has all of the attributes needed for a role that is fundamentally a virtuoso one, no matter how emotionally involving it is as well. The point about Violetta is that she is, with absolute authenticity, all of the things she becomes in the course of the opera--the febrile socialite and yearning love of Act One, the quiet domesticated woman of Act Two who sacrifices her love for Alfredo to precisely the family values he has talked her into espousing, the dying penitent of Act Three. Walter McNeil is an impressive poetic Alfredo in whose successful courtship we can believe. He is also unusually good in Act Two, Scene Two where for once his public humiliation of Violetta is actually painful, which makes his repentance at her deathbed far more moving. Brent Ellis is solidly powerful as his father Germont--the duet in which he talks Violetta into renouncing his son and comes to value what he is destroying is one of the high points here, as it should be. Bernard Haitink conducts impressively. On the DVD: As (unfortunately) usual with Arthaus Musik, the DVD contains no extra features worth mentioning past the usual subtitles in German, English and French, relegating discussion of the opera's stormy history to the booklet. --Roz Kaveney

  • Verdi - Otello [1992] Verdi - Otello | DVD | (31/03/2008) from £8.89  |  Saving you £2.74 (18.30%)  |  RRP £14.99

    Giuseppe Verdi - The Royal Opera Otello - At the Royal Opera House.

  • Don Giovanni - Mozart Don Giovanni - Mozart | DVD | (14/03/2005) from £9.25  |  Saving you £6.25 (28.40%)  |  RRP £21.99

    The Opera Don Giovanni drama in two acts.

  • 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

  • Turn Of The Screw - Britten Turn Of The Screw - Britten | DVD | (21/01/2005) from £17.95  |  Saving you £7.04 (28.20%)  |  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.

  • Tosca - Puccini [2003] Tosca - Puccini | DVD | (18/06/2004) from £9.18  |  Saving you £3.34 (11.10%)  |  RRP £29.99

    The story of betrayal and lust performed by the Teatro Real Chorus and Orchestra; conducted by Maurizio Benini. Recorded during the 2003-2004 season at Teatro Real.

  • Classic British Jets-Victor Classic British Jets-Victor | DVD | (03/07/2006) from £6.15  |  Saving you £3.84 (38.40%)  |  RRP £9.99

    The story of the legendary V-Bomber from its days at the heart of Britains nuclear deterrent through its tanker conversion and disbandment.

  • Tristan Und Isolde - Wagner/Daniel Barenboim Tristan Und Isolde - Wagner/Daniel Barenboim | DVD | (16/07/2007) from £13.80  |  Saving you £8.19 (37.20%)  |  RRP £21.99

    Daniel Barenboim conducts Bayreuth's landmark 1983 production of Wagner's quintessential Romantic music-drama Tristan Und Isolde. The great Wagnerian singers Ren'' Kollo and Johanna Meier perform the title roles in Wagner's romantic masterpiece. Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's celebrated Bayreuth production is filmed on the Festspielhaus stage with six cameras and in digital sound to recreate the unique intensity of a live performance in studio quality. With its exceptional cast of singers - plus the thoughtful staging by Ponelle and the musical expertise of Daniel Barenboim - this DVD is one of the finest Tristan and Isolde productions ever

  • Gluck - Orphée et Eurydice / Robert Wilson, John Eliot Gardiner, Théâtre du Châtelet [1999] Gluck - Orphée et Eurydice / Robert Wilson, John Eliot Gardiner, Théâtre du Châtelet | DVD | (22/11/2000) from £6.99  |  Saving you £2.71 (10.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Gluck's 1762 opera Orphée et Eurydice was ground-breaking in its day and--as this 1999 performance from the Theatre Musical de Paris shows--it still lends itself to radical treatment. The composer's rejection of traditional flamboyant operatic bells and whistles led to a fresh form in which the lyrics hold court. The music provides the setting and emotional colour in a way that is almost physical in its intensity. Gluck's readiness to incorporate the influences of other art forms--poetry, ballet and drama--has always made this story of love rescued from the jaws of tragedy universally appealing. This production, directed by Robert Wilson and conducted by John Eliot Gardiner, is mesmerising. The all but ill-fated couple (Magdalena Kozena and Madeline Bender) move as if in a trance, their actions suggesting marionettes controlled by greater forces. Their faces are largely expressionless, leaving their voices to explore the force of the huge range of human emotions they must cover during the opera's 100 minutes. Only Cupid runs free. The performances are beautifully sung in French, Kozena bringing immense dignity to Orphée's lament, "J'ai perdu mon Eurydice". A powerful interpretation of an important work, fit for the 21st century. --Piers Ford

  • 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 £-1.50 (-10.70%)  |  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: Don Giovanni -- Vienna/Furtwangler [1955] Mozart: Don Giovanni -- Vienna/Furtwangler | DVD | (08/10/2004) from £12.44  |  Saving you £1.55 (11.10%)  |  RRP £13.99

    The incomparable Cesare Siepi stars in this legendary Salzburg production of Mozart's masterpiece. Wilhelm Furtwangler conducts the internationally renowned Vienna Philharmonic in what has become one of the definitive productions of a classic opera.

  • The Flying Dutchman - Wagner The Flying Dutchman - Wagner | DVD | (09/05/2005) from £10.97  |  Saving you £6.02 (35.40%)  |  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.

  • 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.

  • Kiri Te Kanawa - A Celebration - Live At The Royal Albert Hall Kiri Te Kanawa - A Celebration - Live At The Royal Albert Hall | DVD | (11/06/2007) from £15.99  |  Saving you £1.00 (5.90%)  |  RRP £16.99

    Join Kiri and friends for a very special musical celebration as she sings the greatest hits from her sensational international career: from favourite operatic arias by Mozart and Puccini to musical theatre classics by Rodgers and Hammerstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber. A traditional ensemble from New Zealand perform a Maori tribute, and special guests Andre Previn and his join trio Kiri for intimate performances of popular American songs.The evening culminates in spectacular style with the arrival of a huge birthday cake, celebrating the 50th birthday of a unique musical star.

  • Nabucco - Arena Di Verona [1981] Nabucco - Arena Di Verona | DVD | (25/07/2005) from £12.69  |  Saving you £5.30 (29.50%)  |  RRP £17.99

    Nabucco was Verdi's first real success and its nationalistic theme of yearning for freedom made it highly popular in an Italy of 1842 under Austrian rule. The great chorus of the exiled Hebrews 'Va pensiero' has become one of the best-loved of operatic melodies and made Verdi the voice of the Italian people. This performance was recorded in Verona in 1981 where the huge open-air Roman Arena provides a magnificent setting for this vast and spectacular opera. The great baritone Renat

  • Rameau - Les Indes galantes / Petibon · Agnew · Croft · Hartelius · Rivenq · de Niese · Panzarella · Le Roi · Les Arts Florissants · Christe - Serban (Opéra de Paris 2004) [2003] Rameau - Les Indes galantes / Petibon · Agnew · Croft · Hartelius · Rivenq · de Niese · Panzarella · Le Roi · Les Arts Florissants · Christe - Serban (Opéra de Paris 2004) | DVD | (27/06/2005) from £25.45  |  Saving you £4.54 (15.10%)  |  RRP £29.99

    William Christie and Les Arts Florissants propel this exuberant production of Jean-Phillipe Rameau's second opera to great heights. Andrei Serban's extravagant highly baroque staging presents the four exotic love stories vibrantly. In Le Turc Genereux Osman sets free his captive Emilie whom he loves so that she may be reunited with her former lover Valere; Les Incas De Perou is all about the rivalry of the Inca Huascar and the Spaniard Don Carlos both in pursuit of Princess Phani; Les Fleurs offers a Persian love intrigue as the Sultana Fatime tries to detect whether her husband Tacmas has his eye on the lovely Atalide; and Les Sauvages takes us to North America where a Spaniard and a Frenchman compete for the love of Zima daughter of a native chief who prefers one of her own people.

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