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Les Troyens - Hector Berlioz | DVD | (05/09/2002)
from £7.50 | Saving you £11.09 (37.00%) | RRP
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.
Berg: Lulu - Glyndebourne Festival Opera | DVD | (23/02/2004)
from £10.02 | Saving you £7.97 (44.30%) | RRP
Alban Berg's second and last opera Lulu is one of the monuments of modernism, constructed around serial technique and containing scenes conceived of as Sonata-form, Suite and so on. The bliss of Andrew Davis's conducting in this classic Glyndebourne production is that we forget all of this--Davis doesn't gloss over the music's intellectual content, but that's not what we think about as we watch and listen. Part of the production's strength is the prodigious performance by Christine Schafer as Lulu--for once we believe in the character's sexual energy and power; and Schafer makes her real enough as a person that we largely forget the work's intrinsic misogyny. The rest of the cast are admirable too: Norman Bailey brings something perversely sweet to the disreputable painter Schigolch; Kathryn Harries makes the dying words of Lulu's lesbian lover Geschwitz one of the work's lyric high points; David Kuebler is equally powerful as Alwa. The final duet between Lulu and her destroyer Jack the Ripper is one of Wolfgang Schone's great moments, but he is equally good as Dr Schon, the man Lulu marries and kills. This is a performance of energy and beauty, matched by a simple but effective production. On the DVD Lulu on disc is presented in disappointingly in NTSC format with a 4:3 picture ratio. Fortunately, the Dolby 2.0 digital sound is ideal for the fine detail of this complex score and these nuanced performances. There are subtitles in English, French, German, Spanish and Japanese. --Roz Kaveney
Discover America - Yellowstone National Park | DVD | (21/07/2008)
from £11.44 | Saving you £5.55 (32.70%) | RRP
The Discover America DVD series takes you behind the scenes and beyond the well trodden tourist path to America's most popular National Parks and modern wonders. Yellowstone National Park is a land forged by the fires of ancient volcanoes and sculpted by the forces of water ice and time. Established in 1872 it was America's first national park--and the first created anywhere in the world! Known as America's Serengeti this is home to the largest population of North American wildlife found in the United States. Bison elk moose pronghorn bighorn sheep trumpeter swan wolf and the formidable grizzly bear all interact in this wild landscape. Witness the spectacle of Old Faithful and numerous others as they explode in breathtaking eruptions. At Mammoth Hot Springs mineral-laden waters create ornate travertine terraces. Thermal waters - brilliantly colored by algaes and cyano-bacterias - create colorful tapestries at Norris Hot Springs and Grand Prismatic Spring. Watch as the Yellowstone River plummets more than 200 feet at Lower Falls and tumbles into the bizarre landscape of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River. Experience Yellowstone's dramatic landscape of geysers mud pots and hot springs; mountains lakes and waterfalls; bison elk wolves and grizzly bears - all are revealed in breathtaking footage and incredible sound. Explore this astonishing landscape and its denizens in all seasons of the year--from the lushness of summer to the harsh spectacle of deep winter's beauty.
Rudolf Nureyev's Romeo And Juliet | DVD | (10/04/2000)
from £10.50 | Saving you £7.49 (41.60%) | RRP
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
Tchaikovsky: Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades) | DVD | (21/01/2002)
from £19.49 | Saving you £4.94 (19.80%) | RRP
This Glyndebourne production of Pique Dame ("The Queen of Spades") received rave reviews when it appeared in 1992 due to its claustrophobic intensity and powerful acting, and these qualities help it to transfer to DVD with great success. Graham Vick's direction ensures that the story is told clearly and simply but includes a wealth of telling details: the pastoral scene from Act 2, for example, uses the boys from the opening chorus as comical sheep and the effect is enchanting. But there are much darker undertones too: Richard Hudson's slanting, angular designs produce a disorientating atmosphere which mirrors Herman's increasing mental deterioration with uncanny precision. There is a brilliant stroke of visual assonance when the Countess returns to haunt Herman and all the furniture from her death scene appears on the roof. The singing is generally good, though Yuri Marusin's voice may not be to everyone's taste; sometimes he sounds like he's shouting, and his frequent lack of vibrato produces a piercing, uncomfortable effect. Nancy Gustafson is a fine Lisa, however, and Dimitri Kharitonov (Yeletsky) is heartbreaking in the famous "Ya vas lyublyu" ("I love you") aria. For overall better singing but a more plodding production, try the 1992 Kirov recording, but for spine-tingling drama this is the one to go for. On the DVD: Pique Dame on disc has subtitles in English, German, French and Spanish. The camerawork captures the odd angularity of the designs and gives an excellent account of a fast-paced, powerful production.--Warwick Thomson
Cosi Fan Tutte - Mozart | DVD | (23/07/2004)
from £8.59 | Saving you £1.40 (14.00%) | RRP
Daniela Dessi and Delores Ziegler lead the cast in Mozart's brilliant and witty opera as the two women whose faithfulness in the face of romantic love is ruthlessly tested in Da Ponte's comic tale. Mozart lavishes some of the finest music ever written on the unfolding story of the two sisters' chaotic and fickle love affairs with their two Italian army officers. Unlocked from the archives of RAI television this 1989 recording is a classic from one of the world's great opera houses.
The Mikado | DVD | (07/02/2005)
from £6.50 | Saving you £8.07 (50.50%) | RRP
A lavish 1982 production of the Gilbert and Sullivan opera in which Nanki-Poo the son of the Mikado escaping a distasteful marriage arrives in the town of Titipu disguised as a musician...
Bellini: Norma | DVD | (02/04/2001)
from £20.05 | Saving you £4.94 (19.80%) | RRP
Bellini's Norma, first performed in 1831, is one of the most glittering jewels in the bel canto repertoire, placing huge vocal demands on the soprano in the title role. The druid priestess who falls prey to human frail ties before redeeming her grace in the flames of the sacrificial fire must also be played with a high degree of dramatic truth. In the 20th century, two singers scaled new heights in combining these requirements: Maria Callas and Joan Sutherland. Sutherland's great achievement, preserved in this 1978 recording of Opera Australia's production at Sidney Opera House, was to render Norma a very human being, unravelling her complex reactions to the events which bring her personal world tumbling down around her. Using Bellini's deceptively simple melodies to tender effect, she reveals the essential purity of many of his greatest arias, not least "Casta diva": an equally valid alternative to Callas' pyrotechnics. Ronald Stevens as Norma's errant Roman lover Pollione and Margreta Elkins as Adalgisa, the unwitting agent of the priestess's ultimate downfall, strike vocal sparks in their duets with Sutherland. But this is essentially a treasurable record of one of the all-time great divas in a role that brought her some of her finest notices, with her husband and long-time collaborator Richard Bonynge in the conductor's box. On the DVD: In all respects, this is a solid offering with few frills. The only extra is an Arthaus trailer. The 4:3 picture format and PCM stereo-sound quality are adequate media for a theatrical performance which is very much of its time: crudely-edited plot explanations separate the acts and there is the imposition of some rather naff stills of the ill-fated lovers on flickering flames to suggest the pyre. But Sutherland's performance triumphs over all. --Piers Ford
Roberto Devereux - Donizetti | DVD | (27/07/2001)
from £19.95 | Saving you £5.04 (20.20%) | RRP
In the summer of 1974 The Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association began videotaping a number of live operatic and concert performances at the Filene Center in Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna Virginia for telecast in an innovative new series entitled 'In Performance at Wolf Trap'. The series met with overwhelming success and set the stage for the many live performance telecasts which have since followed.In 1975 'In Performance at Wold Trap' presented Beverly Sills in perhaps her most acclaimed portrayal that of Queen Elizabeth I in the Donizetti rarity Roberto Devereux. When Miss Sills first sang the role at the New York City Opera in 1970 Winthrop Sargeant wrote in the New Yorker She was Elizabeth from the extreme pallor of her makeup to the royal sweep of her train. It was a characterisation that I shall never forget. The combination of skills she brought to her role made this a historic moment. Daniel Webster wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer Miss Sills sang the towering role with such authority and portrayed Queen Elizabeth with such fervour that the opera unstaged (in New York) for more than 125 years now is one of the theatrical events of the year.
Verdi - Macbeth | DVD | (22/10/2007)
from £14.99 | Saving you £7.00 (31.80%) | RRP
Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier -- Vienna/Kleiber | DVD | (03/09/2004)
from £9.99 | Saving you £0.00 (0.00%) | RRP
The epic grandeur of Der Rosenkavalier stems not just from its immense length (over three hours) but from the all-too-human complexity of its characters--each of whom is smitten with someone else--and the endless stream of graceful melodies the composer conjures. After the tonality-stretching dissonance of Salome and especially Elektra, Strauss moved onto a different musical path here: the music's sheer gorgeousness has given this most heartbreaking of 20th-century operas its pride of place in the repertory. For this 1994 performance at the Vienna Opera House, conductor Carlos Kleiber leads a committed reading of the buoyant score that savours every note. The three leads are superb singer-actresses who get full marks for embodying Strauss's most richly romantic creations: Felicity Lott (the Marschallin), Anne Sophie von Otter (Octavian) and Barbara Bonney (Sophie) also offer a truly entrancing final trio, one of the great scenes in all opera. The stereo sound mix is solid, as is the video transfer. --Kevin Filipski, Amazon.com
Rossini: La Cenerentola (Cinderella) -- Houston | DVD | (25/06/2001)
from £4.74 | Saving you £1.60 (9.40%) | RRP
Rossini's opera recorded live in Houston in November 1995. Bruno Campanella conducts the Houston Symphony Orchestra and the Houston Grand Opera Chorus.
Donizetti: Lucrezia Borgia | DVD | (22/04/2002)
from £22.93 | Saving you £12.06 (34.50%) | RRP
A 1980 Royal Opera House production of Donizetti's opera. Conducted by Richard Bonynge and directed by John Copley.
Tosca - Puccini | DVD | (09/05/2005)
from £15.39 | Saving you £1.60 (9.40%) | RRP
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
20 Pack: British Heritage Collection (including A Festival Of Transport Fred Dinbah, Continental Organs Vol 1, Continental Organs 2, Appleby Fair 2000, Beautiful World Of Mechanical Music & 15 More) | DVD | (01/01/2008)
from £N/A | Saving you £N/A (N/A%) | RRP
1. It's Fred Dibnah 2. Fred Dibnah Getting Steamed Up 3. 30th Anniversary of the Dorset Steam Fair 4. A Festival of Tractors 5. Appleby 2000 6. Beautiful World of Mechanical Music 7. Continental Organs Volume 1 8. Dorset 95 (Steam Fair) 9. Dutch Steam Fair 10. Great Yorkshire Show 11. Steam in the Midlands 12. Modern Farming 13. Musical Boxes Aroma & Interesting Things 14. National Museum of Organs 15. Steam Heavy Haulage 16. Steam in the North 17. Tractors Down Under 18. Vintage Cars Bikes Commercial Rollers 19. Working with Tractors 20. World of Mechanical Music & Organs
Samson Et Dalila - Saint-Saens | DVD | (09/08/2004)
from £16.99 | Saving you £0.00 (0.00%) | RRP
A production of the Saint-Saens opera performed by the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Conducted by the esteemed James Levine.
Cecilia Bartoli - Live In Italy | DVD | (25/06/2001)
from £11.90 | Saving you £5.09 (30.00%) | RRP
Cecilia Bartoli gives a performance from Teatro Olimpico Vincenza Italy. The tracklist includes 'Voi Che Sapete' Seguedille' and many more.
Don Giovanni - Mozart | DVD | (23/04/2004)
from £8.59 | Saving you £1.40 (14.00%) | RRP
A performance of the Mozart opera Don Giovanni.
Britten: Death In Venice | DVD | (28/02/2001)
from £11.53 | Saving you £5.77 (23.10%) | RRP
Britten's last opera, Death in Venice will always be associated with the two voices for which the major parts in it were written. It is the achievement of Robert Tear and Alan Opie, in this magisterial performance by Graeme Jenkins with the Glyndebourne touring company, to produce telling performances that are entirely separate from our memories. Tear's Aschenbach is more bull-like than Peter Pears' moralist dreamer; his drift into sentimental eroticisation of the boy Tadzio upsets him as much for the weakness it reveals as for the collapse of his virtue. Alan Opie is as much of a virtuoso as John Shirley-Quirk in the multiple roles that culminate in the corrupting voice of Dionysus--the hotelier who persuades Aschenbach to stay, the barber who gives him a toupee and paints his face, the street entertainer, the rake who flirts with sailors; the otherworldly counter-tenor of Michael Chance is spookily right as Apollo. The scenes for dancers manage to be at once dreams of the erotic and plausible adolescent sea-side wrestling; the direction by Stephen Lawless and Martha Clarke manages to capture the mistiness of the piece from which fate and strangeness suddenly emerge. On the DVD: The DVD has subtitles in German, French and Spanish, as well as an acoustic which brings out the subtleties of Britten's string, brass and percussion in this difficult work. --Roz Kaveney
Albert Herring - Glyndebourne Festival Opera | DVD | (05/09/2005)
from £10.70 | Saving you £7.29 (40.50%) | RRP
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.