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  • The Car Man [2001] The Car Man | DVD | (24/12/2001) from £15.40  |  Saving you £2.59 (14.40%)  |  RRP £17.99

    This latest dance version of Carmen comes courtesy of choreographer Matthew Bourne, who has devised his own scenario of Bizet’s opera set in a garage-diner in the American mid-West, circa 1960. The Car Man toured the UK in 2000 finishing with a four-month run to packed houses at the Old Vic. This film treatment details all the excitement of the occasion. The cinematography assists in capturing the atmosphere of Bourne’s treatment--film noir with allusions to Hitchcock--through employment of chiaroscuro. The use of the split-screen technique also enhances the cinematic feel. The music sounds seductive and full-bodied, befitting the new story line (Bourne calls it an “auto-erotic thriller”) in which an enigmatic stranger, Luca, walks into town seducing both Lana (Carmen) and Angelo (Don Jose). A swarthy individual, Luca looks an unlikely dancer until his first solo galvanises the company. The single stage set adapts into eight different permutations, taking us from diner through nightclub and prison and then out on the road in a cinematic finale where the Chevrolet cars of the period are destroyed in a pile up. The period look is further enhanced with the girls in tight-waisted colourful frocks and the men in Brando-esque T-shirts and jeans. The dance ensembles are an extraordinarily versatile group: classical, jazz, modern and flamenco seem natural expressions of their body movements. Will Kemp deserves a special mention for his sensitivite portrayal of Angelo. On the DVD: the soundtrack comes in a choice of stereo or 5.1. surround sound where the subtle employment of percussion instruments in the orchestration makes a telling effect. A picture gallery of 25 stills from the production and a 14-minute interview with Bourne expressing his initial doubt about doing another version of Carmen are further assets. He needn’t have had a qualm. This Car Man is destined to give much pleasure. --Adrian Edwards

  • Rodelinda - Glyndebourne Festival Opera Rodelinda - Glyndebourne Festival Opera | DVD | (05/09/2005) from £10.25  |  Saving you £7.40 (41.10%)  |  RRP £17.99

    Handel wrote his Italian opera Rodelinda at the height of his musical powers and it is considered to be one of his greatest with music of astonishing power and beauty. This highly praised production filmed in 1998 was the first ever staging of a Handel opera by the Glyndebourne Festival Opera. Jean-Marie Villegier's stylish production sets Handel's tale of royal exile and fidelity in the silent movie era. Starring Anna Caterina Antonacci in a glamorous portrayal of Rodelinda an

  • Khachaturian - Spartacus - Bolshoi Ballet - Carlos Acosta [2008] Khachaturian - Spartacus - Bolshoi Ballet - Carlos Acosta | DVD | (06/10/2008) from £16.30  |  Saving you £-1.31 (-8.70%)  |  RRP £14.99

  • Les Troyens - Berlioz/The Met/James Levine Les Troyens - Berlioz/The Met/James Levine | DVD | (16/07/2007) from £14.99  |  Saving you £0.00 (0.00%)  |  RRP £14.99

    Filmed at the Metropolitan Opera in 1983 Berlioz's masterpiece Les Troyens is a tragic tale of love and fate based on Virgil's Aeneid. Under the baton of James Levine Jessye Norman is stunning in the part of Cassandra and Pl''cido Domingo makes for a strong compelling Aeneas. This benchmark performance was hailed by both critics and audiences and performed to greatest critical acclaim. Norman's role debut as Cassandra emerged as one her most significant and compelling performances and this DVD is also a stand-out release among Domingo's extensive filmography.

  • The Nutcracker [1985] The Nutcracker | DVD | (23/02/1998) from £10.59  |  Saving you £7.40 (41.10%)  |  RRP £17.99

    If Christmas is an elusive, childhood state of mind, Peter Wright's 1985 Royal Ballet production of The Nutcracker, recorded at Covent Garden, is just the thing to recapture it. The delicately symmetrical choreography of Wright and Lev Ivanov ensures that the stage is constantly filled with the mesmerising enchantment demanded by Tchaikovsky's perennial favourite. The ballet's success will always lie, in part, in its familiarity and its intrinsic status as Christmas entertainment, but the best productions, like Wright's, give equal weight to the dark forces of Hoffmann's original tale, which must be overcome before good and innocence can prevail. Here, the sadness of Drosselmeyer is a potent thread in the ballet, resolved in a moving, well-judged moment as the curtain falls. There is real magic in the dancing, from Julie Rose's charming, constantly involved Clara to the irresistible images of the divertissements. But rightly, the laurels go to Lesley Collier as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Anthony Dowell as the Prince for a pas de deux that seems to hover above the stage without making contact. And, like Wright's production, the splendid sets of Julia Trevelyan Oman--combining traditional Victorian Christmas images, a delicate filigree flower garden and pre-Raphaelite angels--steer the right side of sentimentality. On the DVD: The Nutcracker has no extras on this DVD, although the booklet provides adequate production notes. The 4:3 format also provides adequate picture quality for a mid-1980s television production, although no amount of colour adjustment improves a slightly washed-out look. The sound, Linear PCM Stereo, makes the orchestra sound robust and solid at the occasional expense of subtlety. --Piers Ford

  • Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) -- Glyndebourne [1994] Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) -- Glyndebourne | DVD | (25/10/1999) from £10.79  |  Saving you £7.20 (40.00%)  |  RRP £17.99

    Mozart's immortal adaptation of Beaumarchais' satirical tale has always been a Glyndebourne staple, so it was appropriate that this delightfully traditional production of Le Nozze di Figaro was chosen to reopen a refurbished Gyndebourne in May, 1994. Here, John Gunter's set design is airy and uncluttered, leaving the actors plenty of breathing space, while director Stephen Medcalf likewise allows the characters to speak (and sing) for themselves. Gerald Finley's Figaro and Alison Hagley's Susanna make a charming central pairing; Renee Fleming and Andreas Schmidt are a formidable aristocratic duo, while Marie-Ange Todorovitch fills Cherubino's trousers with pleasing playfulness. Haitink and the London Philharmonic sparkle, as of course they should. Unfussily filmed, this is as close to the real thing as you are likely to get without a Glyndebourne season ticket.On the DVD: This is a double-sided disc requiring a changeover between Acts 2 and 3. With a running-time of 189 minutes, the disc is no longer than some epic Hollywood movies, so such flipping is hard to justify. But at least opera lends itself to natural breaks like this. The sound options are Dolby stereo or 5.1 and the picture is in 4:3 ratio. Subtitles are provided in English, French or German and the booklet contains a plot synopsis. --Mark Walker

  • The Medium - Menotti [1950] The Medium - Menotti | DVD | (30/08/2002) from £22.75  |  Saving you £0.24 (1.00%)  |  RRP £22.99

    Menotti - The Medium (Schippers Powers Alberghetti Dame)

  • Lord of the Dance [1996] Lord of the Dance | DVD | (01/10/1999) from £5.00  |  Saving you £N/A (N/A%)  |  RRP £15.99

    Billed as an updating and retelling of an Irish folk legend, Lord of the Dance is less Erin Go Bragh than Hooray for Hollywood. Michael Flatley gives us the old razzle-dazzle, fashioning a Celtic-influenced spectacular that wanders far away from its Riverdance roots. The light-show presentation is closer kin to another contemporary Irish musical group, U2. Flatley himself has gone designer chic, too: with close-cropped haircut, earring, buffed abs and tight black pants he bears more than a passing resemblance to Bono. But you have to hand it to the guy--he works hard for the money, as does his attractive corps. The one maddening aspect of this glitzy, entertaining 90-minute festival is the overzealous editing. No image remains on screen for more than a few seconds. Neither Flatley nor his talented troupe deserves to have such craftsmanship sliced and diced like an MTV music video.--Richard Natale, Amazon.com

  • Verdi - Otello [1992] Verdi - Otello | DVD | (31/03/2008) from £10.69  |  Saving you £4.30 (28.70%)  |  RRP £14.99

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

  • Wagner: Das Rheingold -- Metropolitan/Levine Wagner: Das Rheingold -- Metropolitan/Levine | DVD | (14/10/2002) from £12.40  |  Saving you £4.59 (27.00%)  |  RRP £16.99

    It takes a certain amount of forethought if Das Rheingold is to be more than a series of special effects scenes, though moments like the appearance of the giants through the mist or Alberich's transformations need to be as thrilling as they are here. As always in his Wagner, and perhaps especially in this very traditional 1990 Metropolitan Opera production of the Ring cycle, James Levine keeps to the forefront the underlying humanity of Wagner's gods and monsters. In the first scene, for example, he brings out the thoughtless, callous frivolity of the Rhine maidens as they precipitate the events of the four operas by taunting the gnome Alberich: it helps that they swirl around, green and gold, in a convincing representation of the bottom of the Rhine, but the emotions are the point. Ekkehaard Wlaschiha is a convincingly menacing Alberich partly because Levine brings out his vulnerability as well as his evil temper. James Morris is splendid as the younger less care-worn Wotan and Siegfried Jerusalem as Loge enjoys the sarcasm of his cynical commentary on Wotan's aspirations. The smaller parts have luxury casting: Matti Salminen as Fafner and Christa Ludwig as Fricka, for example. On the DVD: Das Rheingold comes with a photo gallery of the Metropolitan Opera production and with menus and subtitles in German, French, English, Spanish and Chinese. Disappointingly though it is presented in American NTSC format with standard TV 4:3 visual ratio. But it does have an excellent clear acoustic in all three of its audio options: PCM stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1. --Roz Kaveney

  • Madama Butterfly - Puccini [1974] Madama Butterfly - Puccini | DVD | (09/05/2005) from £13.08  |  Saving you £0.91 (6.50%)  |  RRP £13.99

    Of all Puccini's major operas, the intimate tragedy of Madama Butterfly is least in need of elaborate staging and might therefore benefit most from the close scrutiny of film. The story is domestic, the setting Spartan, the incidental characters kept to a minimum. This 1974 version, however, demonstrates that Butterfly still needs a healthy injection of proscenium arch melodrama. Director Jean-Pierre Ponelle's production strives for realism but remains unfortunately studio-bound, having neither the benefit of location filming nor the heightened reality of an opera stage. The exterior is a perpetually fog-shrouded heath of indeterminate locale; the interior is cramped and unadorned. The setting is just too prosaic to contain the epic emotions of grand opera. Thankfully, the cast is superb, headed by Placido Domingo's rakish Pinkerton and Mirella Freni's rubicund Butterfly. Their singing is incomparable, as is Herbert von Karajan's musical direction of the Vienna Phil. The singers mime to pre-recorded music, which is occasionally disconcerting since when film demands close-ups opera provides broad gestures. Musically, this Butterfly is impeccable. Visually it adds nothing that could not be seen to better effect in a stage version. On the DVD: Madama Butterfly is presented disappointingly on disc in a poor NTSC transfer full of distracting graininess that makes every scene, both inside and out, look like it takes place in an omnipresent drizzle. Sound is reasonable stereo and adequate 5.0 surround. There are subtitles in the major European languages as well as Chinese, and the booklet contains a background essay plus synopsis. --Mark Walker

  • Puccini: La Boheme -- Royal Opera House/Gardelli Puccini: La Boheme -- Royal Opera House/Gardelli | DVD | (21/08/2000) from £10.59  |  Saving you £7.40 (41.10%)  |  RRP £17.99

    This full-blooded 1982 performance of Puccini's most-loved opera demonstrates just how much drive and powerful emotion can make up for a certain lack of subtlety. Cotrubas' Mimi is entirely moving in both joy and death, while never quite feeling as thoroughly frail as some of her quieter rivals; stronger tenor voices than Neil Shicoff's have recorded the role, and yet he has a Romantic passion and a dignity that many of his rivals fail to bring to the role. That under-rated singer Gwynne Howell is especially moving in Colline's farewell to his cloak--one of those perfect little showcase sections Puccini sometimes gives to minor parts. Marilyn Zschau's Musetta is broad and comic and yet somehow includes the audience in the glorious joke that her sexuality is for her; when Thomas Allen sings, to her waltz theme, of youth that is not yet dead, his ardour transcends realism. Gardelli knew this score in his bones--the production bounces along from comedy to tears to eroticism to tragedy and neither cast nor orchestra miss a single one of Puccini's wonderful touches of emotional exploitation. --Roz Kaveney

  • Donizetti: L'Elisir D'Amore (The Elixir of Love) Donizetti: L'Elisir D'Amore (The Elixir of Love) | DVD | (11/03/2002) from £13.45  |  Saving you £1.62 (10.10%)  |  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

  • La Sylphide - Royal Danish Ballet La Sylphide - Royal Danish Ballet | DVD | (27/03/2006) from £10.59  |  Saving you £4.40 (29.40%)  |  RRP £14.99

    La Sylphide which first appeared in the 1830's was the world's first Romantic ballet. The story of James a young Scottish farmer enchanted by a sylph or tree fairy on the eve of his wedding combines reality and fantasy. The great Danish choreographer August Bournoville created a version of La Sylphide for the Royal Danish Ballet in 1836 and it remains his most famous and enduring ballet. The Royal Danish Ballet rightly regards its interpretations of the Bournoville classics as being in the purest and most faithfully maintained tradition. This production recorded at the Royal Theatre Copenhagen in 1988 features Lis Jeppesen as La Sylphide. She is of the most famous interpreters of the role which requires lyrical interpretation as well as superb technique. Nikolaj Hubbe and Sorella Englund also star as James and Madge respectively.

  • Gaetano Donizetti - La Fille du régiment / Dessay, Florez, Palmer, Corbelli, French, Campanella, Pelly (Royal Opera House 2007) [2008] Gaetano Donizetti - La Fille du régiment / Dessay, Florez, Palmer, Corbelli, French, Campanella, Pelly (Royal Opera House 2007) | DVD | (21/04/2008) from £10.59  |  Saving you £3.40 (24.30%)  |  RRP £13.99

    Laurent Pelly staged this new production and how the singers were perfectly cast. They gave Donizetti's opera a new life at the Royal Opera House

  • Handel: Julius Caesar -- ENO [1984] Handel: Julius Caesar -- ENO | DVD | (21/06/2002) from £20.05  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Dame Janet Baker in one of her greatest roles leads a cast of some of Britain's finest interpreters of baroque opera under the baton of Sir Charles Mackerras. John Copley's acclaimed English National Opera production was restaged in studio skilfully using all the technical advantages offered to create this top quality recording.

  • The Stone Flower - Prokofieff/Bolshoi Ballet [1979] The Stone Flower - Prokofieff/Bolshoi Ballet | DVD | (18/06/2007) from £22.75  |  Saving you £0.24 (1.00%)  |  RRP £22.99

  • Firebird / Pulcinella [1982] Firebird / Pulcinella | DVD | (22/11/2000) from £20.05  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    This release offers two short ballets by Stravinsky, The Firebird from 1909-10 and Pulcinella written a decade later, the former based on three Russian fairytales. This 1982 production by the Royal Danish Ballet was choreographed by Glen Tetley, for whom "The Firebird is a symbol of our innermost dreams and longing for freedom and true love". His interpretation has a dreamlike atmosphere, the designs echoing Jean Cocteau's La Belle et La Bete, the languorous, sensual dance evoking an understated fairytale eroticism in parallel with the shimmering score. Pulcinella comes from Stravinsky's neo-classical period and is inspired by the Italian commedia dell'arte of the 17th and 18th centuries. The story, an almost slapstick series of romantic confusions and complications amid the streets of Naples, is brought to life in this 1988 Scapino Ballet production with an enchanting mixture of dance and mime. The design is boldly colourful and Nils Christe's choreography filled with character and playful good humour. The music comes from an enthusiastic LSO under Claudio Abbado, with vocal soloists of the calibre of John Shirley-Quirk. The two works make an attractive programme. On the DVD: Other than a trailer for other Arthaus DVDs there are no special features. Reflecting the age of the material, the sound is unremarkable PCM stereo and the picture conventional 4:3. There is some audio distortion on Pulcinella, particularly on the vocal parts. The image has rich, vibrant colours and is reasonably detailed, but is also grainy and shows compression artefacts. Firebird has a smoother image, largely due to the focus being soft. The booklet contains useful notes and a full scene breakdown. The disc is encoded for regions 2 and 5. --Gary S. Dalkin

  • Luciano Pavarotti - Donizetti - L'Elisir D'Amore Luciano Pavarotti - Donizetti - L'Elisir D'Amore | DVD | (26/02/2008) from £13.29  |  Saving you £3.70 (21.80%)  |  RRP £16.99

    Donizetti's L' Elisir D' Amore recorded live at the Metropolitan Opera, March 2nd, 1981.

  • Le Corsaire [1989] Le Corsaire | DVD | (21/08/2000) from £10.59  |  Saving you £7.40 (41.10%)  |  RRP £17.99

    A production of the ballet 'Le Corsaire' performed at the Kirov Theatre in Leningrad April 1989.

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