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Puccini: Madame Butterfly -- 1995 film version | DVD | (04/03/2002)
from £25.40 | Saving you £N/A (N/A%) | RRP
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
Parsifal - The Search For The Grail | DVD | (11/01/2004)
from £13.30 | Saving you £6.69 (33.50%) | RRP
Parsifal: The Search for the Grail is a documentary that sets Wagner's last opera in its cultural context, tracing the history of the Grail myth back to the Middle Ages, and arguing that any specifically Christian myth goes back no further than that. It acknowledges that Parsifal is Wagner's most problematic opera, as well as one of his greatest, and gives chapter and verse for its role in creating the culturally respectable anti-Semitism that led to the Holocaust, as well as discussing other issues like its profound, though eloquently expressed, misogyny. At the same time, it makes what case is possible for the non-aesthetic defence--all of the above is true, and yet it is also an opera about learning compassion, at once poisonous and healing. Placido Domingo is the narrator, taking us through chats with talking heads that range from theologian Karen Armstrong to members of the Wagner family and film clips that range from Monty Python and Indiana Jones to Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal. He also performs the role in a variety of extracts conducted by Valery Gergiev at the Kirov Opera, reminding us of just how viscerally impressive and lyrically beautiful late Wagner can be. On the DVD: The Search for the Grail is presented in old TV standard 4:3 ration with only PCM stereo sound. It comes equipped with a useful set of chapter headings and with subtitles in English, French, German and Spanish. --Roz Kaveney
Tales Of Beatrix Potter | DVD | (20/11/2006)
from £3.54 | Saving you £9.45 (72.70%) | RRP
Entertaining children's stories danced by the Royal Ballet wearing animal masks. Music by John Lanchbery choreography by Frederick Ashton. The adventures are alive with same energy and passion of the books and feature unheard melodies from British Museum manuscripts recovered and transcribed by composer John Lanchbery. As the characters waltz their way across set to the rhythm of the songs you'll join in with the merriment and hot step with the cast - a must see treat for the entire family.
Lucia Di Lammermoor | DVD | (20/08/2004)
from £20.05 | Saving you £4.94 (19.80%) | RRP
Gaetano Donizrtti (1797-1848)Lucia Di LammermoorEnrico Robert FrontaliLucia Stefania BonfadelliEdgardo Marcelo AlvarezArturo Cristano OlivieriRainmondo Mirco PalazziAlisa Maria CastelliMnormanno Giovanni MainiRecorded live at the Teatro Carlo Felice Genova June 2003 Directed for TV and Video by Andrea Dorigo
Sylvia | DVD | (29/10/2007)
from £18.99 | Saving you £6.00 (24.00%) | RRP
Leo Delibes: Sylvia - Ballet in three acts
Rigoletto - Verdi | DVD | (09/08/2004)
from £13.99 | Saving you £3.00 (17.70%) | RRP
Opera in three acts produced live at the Metropolitan Opera on 7 November 1977.
Andrea Bocelli - Tuscan Skies | DVD | (10/11/2003)
from £13.23 | Saving you £1.76 (11.70%) | RRP
Andrea Bocelli - Tuscan Skies
Mozart: Don Giovanni -- Zurich/Harnoncourt | DVD | (12/03/2002)
from £12.98 | Saving you £N/A (N/A%) | RRP
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
Lehar - The Land Of Smiles | DVD | (01/01/2005)
from £18.81 | Saving you £N/A (N/A%) | RRP
Lehar: Das Land Des Lachelns (Bibl Habermann)
Maria Callas - La Callas... Toujours - Paris, 1958 | DVD | (26/03/2001)
from £8.63 | Saving you £-14.01 (-87.60%) | RRP
La Callas... Toujours is a black-and-white televised recital (Callas' Paris debut) that took place at the Paris Opera on December 19, 1958 when television was still in its infancy. We might wish that it had happened earlier, when her voice was in better condition, or later, when video recording technology was more advanced--so that, for example, we would not have to take the narrator's word that Callas is wearing a red dress. After all, visual elements were as important as the vocal dimensions in her art but her fans will welcome this warmly. The material, carefully chosen to show Callas at her best and most versatile, includes "Casta Diva" from Bellini's Norma (a Callas speciality), the haunting "Miserere" scene from Verdi's Il trovatore, and the mischievous "Una voce poco fa" from Rossini's Barber of Seville, a fine series of stylistic contrasts in which the essential point is not pure tonal beauty but characterisation and subtle expressive nuances. Others have made this music sound prettier; nobody has presented it with more impact. But the climax of this programme is its second half, a staged performance of Act II of Puccini's Tosca. This is a study in police brutality, sexual harassment and sheer violence, psychological and physical, that has some of opera's most extreme moments--including the great aria "Vissi d'arte", the murder of the villain Scarpia and the contemptuous dismissal flung at his corpse--"and all Rome trembled before him". In this segment, Callas goes mano a mano with Tito Gobbi, her only equal as a singing actor during her career. They savour this material in a virtuoso performance. --Joe McLellan, Amazon.com
Turandot - Puccini | DVD | (15/09/2003)
from £15.39 | Saving you £1.60 (9.40%) | RRP
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
Michael Flatley - The 10th Anniversary Complete Collection - Lord Of The Dance/Feet Of Flames/Celtic Tiger | DVD | (27/11/2006)
from £21.99 | Saving you £N/A (N/A%) | RRP
Celtic Tiger: The international acclaimed master of dance Michael Flatley returns to the stage to spearhead his powerful new 90 minute dance spectacular Celtic Tiger. With his unrivalled skill and artistry Flatley ignites the world of dance once again with a bold dramatic and daring production which fuses the spirit of Ireland with its history with dance and music. The result is an epic masterpiece in which Irish dance is delivered as a dynamic and powerful art form. Perfromance list: Act I:
Exploring The Northumberland Coast Path | DVD | (17/12/2007)
from £14.99 | Saving you £N/A (N/A%) | RRP
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.
Rossini: Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) -- Glyndebourne | DVD | (26/04/2004)
from £10.59 | Saving you £7.40 (41.10%) | RRP
Funny fast and furious Rossini's masterpiece Il Barbiere di Siviglia is one of the most popular of comic operas with its sparkling and stylish score. John Cox's innovative production for Glyndebourne Festival Opera with good looking authentic designs by William Dudley put plenty of fizz into this old favourite and was a real hit with the critics. The usual Glyndebourne hallmarks of team work and extended rehersal paid handsome dividends in this production filmed in 1982.
The Mikado | DVD | (22/08/2011)
from £11.63 | Saving you £5.34 (31.40%) | RRP
Based on the stage production by Anthony Besch.
Verdi: Simon Boccanegra -- Metropolitan Opera/Levine | DVD | (09/09/2002)
from £13.86 | Saving you £3.13 (18.40%) | RRP
A performance of the Verdi opera 'Simon Boccanegra'. Conducted by James Levine.
Samson Et Dalila - Saint-Saens | DVD | (09/08/2004)
from £N/A | Saving you £N/A (N/A%) | RRP
A production of the Saint-Saens opera performed by the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Conducted by the esteemed James Levine.
Don Giovanni - Mozart | DVD | (14/03/2005)
from £9.75 | Saving you £7.00 (31.80%) | RRP
The Opera Don Giovanni drama in two acts.
The Mikado | DVD | (07/02/2005)
from £5.98 | 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...
Fedora - Giordano | DVD | (13/09/2004)
from £15.35 | Saving you £1.64 (9.70%) | RRP
Italian composer Umberto Giordano's opera 'Fedora' has all of the qualities of a thrilling murder mystery. On this Bel Canto Society release of an impassioned 1998 performance soprano Mirella Freni lends her remarkable voice to the title role and tenor Sergei Larin provides powerful support.