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  • Michael Flatley - The Ultimate Collection [DVD] Michael Flatley - The Ultimate Collection | DVD | (24/11/2014) from £24.99  |  Saving you £15.00 (37.50%)  |  RRP £39.99

    The Michael Flatley - The Ultimate Collection Includes the Dangerous Games Lord of the Dance Feet of Flames Gold Celtic tiger.

  • Rossini: Semiramide [1991] Rossini: Semiramide | DVD | (31/12/2007) from £28.69  |  Saving you £6.30 (18.00%)  |  RRP £34.99

    Bel canto can be translated as "pretty singing", and that definition seems tailor-made for this production, which offers grace, charm, and a fine-tuned sense of style in abundance to compensate for its limited psychological and emotional impact. The four principal singers are all specialists in the bel canto style and this opera has played a key role in building their substantial reputations. For its sweeping musical imagination and technical wizardry, Rossini's epic about royal assassination and misdirected lust in the ancient Babylonian Empire deserves a place in any inclusive opera collection, and we are not likely to have a better video recording of Semiramide in the foreseeable future. June Anderson has an attractive appearance and sounds exactly right in the music's florid melodic lines. But she is not dramatically compelling as the wicked queen who had her husband killed and fell in love with a man who turned out to be her long-lost son, Arsace. Marilyn Horne rose to the highest levels of international fame in the role of that conflicted son, and her presence alone would be enough to give this video classic status. Her voice was a bit past its prime when this performance was recorded in 1991, but still there is no other voice quite like it, no other voice so suited to Rossini's heroic mezzo roles. Samuel Ramey is a close bass counterpart to Anderson: great tone, agile florid singing, and a rather wooden but visually appealing stage presence. Sanford Olsen has a small role and sings it near perfectly. James Conlon gets excellent musical results; John Copley's staging is massive and static. --Joe McLellan, Amazon.com

  • Puccini: Tosca -- La Scala/Muti [2000] Puccini: Tosca -- La Scala/Muti | DVD | (02/12/2002) from £12.95  |  Saving you £3.84 (15.40%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Tosca was revived to great acclaim at La Scala in this 2000 production, which built on Luca Ronconi's 1996 version with musical direction from principal conductor Riccardo Muti and Lorenza Cantini's nightmarishly distorted set. Puccini's most recorded opera is loved and derided in equal measure for its high-octane dramatics, rich arias and the fire-spitting exchanges of the eponymous heroine and her wily tormentor Scarpia. Under Muti, the music takes precedence over the self-conscious theatricality of the book. As a result, some high dramatic points--the stabbing, always tricky, and Tosca's suicide, equally dicey--are underplayed here. Singers of the calibre of Maria Guleghina and baritone Leo Nucci can be relied upon for rounded, controlled performances. Guleghina eschews the ferocity of Callas for a less stately, earthier honesty and enjoys moments of great delicacy, particularly in a sweet "Vissi d'arte". And her grief at Cavaradossi's death is searing. The key to Tosca, though, is the ambivalent relationship between the singer and the chief of police. Scarpia is probably the most toxic antihero in opera, and Nucci could do with a touch more virulence. Even so, this is a fascinating production that strips away much of the traditional artifice and gives real insight into the complex emotions that make the opera so compelling for its devotees. On the DVD: Tosca, like so many operas recorded in the theatre, here relies on the performances to compensate for the camera's inability to convey the overall majesty of the production. The 16:9 anamorphic picture format gives no more than a hint of the crushing power of Cantini's set. Happily, the choice of Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS 5.1 surround sound means there is no compromise on the sound front. Orchestra, chorus and principals unite in a fluid homage to Puccini's score. There are no extras on the DVD. One minor niggle: careless editing of the booklet notes means that Puccini briefly becomes Verdi in the description of the opera's genesis. --Piers Ford

  • Handel: Alcina [1999] Handel: Alcina | DVD | (21/01/2002) from £21.03  |  Saving you £3.96 (15.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Produced with the cast of a year-2000 Stuttgart stage version, this performance of Handel's 1735 opera Alcina has been specially shot for home viewing without the audience present (though applause is heard during the closing credits). Director Janos Darvas enhances the usual low theatre illumination with stronger television-friendly lighting to provide more detail, and he also takes his cameras much closer to the artists than live performance permits, offering film-style close-ups that greatly enhance the drama. With just eight performers and an essentially static set--though some intriguing interesting things are done with a large "mirror"--this intimate approach proves an enormous advantage. Handel's complex tale of intense romantic entanglement on the island of the enchantress Alcina focuses as much on high-voltage acting as powerful music-making. The 20th-century costumes are initially disconcerting, but soon become part of a psychologically intense world where time seems out of joint and charged with otherwise-unimaginable emotional possibilities. As Alcina, Catherine Naglestad gives an extraordinary performance, both strikingly passionate and deeply sensual, her revealing costuming being just the most obvious sign of a production intent on the erotic. Though Naglestad dominates, each performer offers memorable characterisation and fine singing. On the DVD: Alcina comes to disc with an anamorphically enhanced 16:9 picture that is clear and detailed, while the PCM stereo audio is natural and is recorded with good presence. Other than various optional subtitles, including English, extras are entirely absent. Within the booklet is a brief biography of Handel, background notes on Alcina and a synopsis, but nothing on the artists or performance. --Gary S Dalkin

  • New York City Ballet - The Complete Workout - 1 And 2 [2006] New York City Ballet - The Complete Workout - 1 And 2 | DVD | (15/01/2007) from £19.30  |  Saving you £3.64 (12.10%)  |  RRP £29.99

    A deluxe edition DVD set comprised of the best-selling fitness videos New York City Ballet Workout Volume 1 and 2. These workouts are designed to help you develop the strength grace and poise of a dancer. An excellent alternative to fast paced high-energy workout routines this unique exercise program balances art life and fitness into the perfect workout for any age or fitness level. Whether you love ballet or are simply searching for an alternative workout regimen designed to produce a strong graceful body this program will deliver exceptional results.

  • Verdi - Falstaff / Graham Vick, Bernard Haitink, Royal Opera House [1999] Verdi - Falstaff / Graham Vick, Bernard Haitink, Royal Opera House | DVD | (10/10/2001) from £24.99  |  Saving you £0.00 (0.00%)  |  RRP £24.99

    The Graham Vicks production of Falstaff opened the new Covent Garden Royal Opera House, and was not to everybody's taste; the garish primary colours of the costumes, especially Falstaff's unusually hideous get-ups, go several steps beyond the Breughelian effect Vicks intended. The staging is effective--the complicated counterpoint of the ensembles is reflected in unobtrusive blocking that keeps the vocal lines clear and separate, especially in the final fugue. Bryn Terfel's Falstaff is a memorable creation, self-mocking and self-aggrandising at the same time--so much so, in fact, that he almost does not need the vast prosthetic body he has to wear for the part. Desiree Rancatore is an admirably sweet-toned Nanetta; Bernadette Manca di Nissa an appropriately sardonic Mistress Quickly; Roberto Frontali as Ford, in his Act 2 scena, perfectly distils and parodies every jealousy aria ever written, including Verdi's own. Haitink's conducting is exemplary in the lyrical passages, gets almost everything out of the fast and furious comic sections. --Roz Kaveney On the DVD: The Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is powerful and filled with detail, capturing the excitement of the performance and the atmosphere of the Royal Opera House superbly. The anamorphically enhanced 1.77:1 widesceen image is very clear, and while given the source inevitably not up to the highest feature film standards, is among the best live classical titles yet released on DVD. The bold colours are particularly well realised, though the red lighting of the Garter Inn scenes causes the image to falter a little. There are optional subtitles in English, French and German. These are presented directly over the picture and would be easier to read had they been a little larger, or outlined in some way. The special features consist of a brief synopsis by James Naughtie, taken directly from the original television broadcast, a minute-long "comment" by conductor Bernard Haitink and short but interesting interviews with Bryn Terfel and director Graham Vick. Finally there is a nine-minute episode from the series of short BBC films, Covent Garden Tales on the 1999 modernisation of the Royal Opera House. --Gary S Dalkin

  • 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)

  • 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 £13.90  |  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

  • Die Lustige Witwe - Lehar [2004] Die Lustige Witwe - Lehar | DVD | (30/05/2005) from £18.76  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Recorded Live from the Zurich Opera House 2004Based on the comedy L'Attache d'ambassade by Henri Meilhac.

  • Sleeping Beauty [1999] Sleeping Beauty | DVD | (05/04/2000) from £13.48  |  Saving you £3.74 (15.00%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty is here transformed by the masterful contemporary choreographer Mats Ek into an allegory of repression, love and emotional maturity set in a bleak, stylised postmodern limbo which is both chilling and, just occasionally, bleakly humorous. Traditionalists may be flinching already, but this is a ballet which has always lent itself to this kind of treatment. Indeed, what many will think of as the "traditional" interpretation is in fact Diaghilev's forward-looking production of 1921, which had sets and costumes by Bakst and re-instrumentation by Stravinsky. Ek's Princess inhabits a world seemingly out of Fritz Lang, where Carabosse is a drug-dealing low-life and the Fairies are a gaggle of sneering girlies. Ek removes his work from the classical tradition to a large degree, but what goes in its place is a highly disciplined yet tactile and gut-wrenchingly emotive approach, conveying both the external and internal narratives of the work with unfailing conviction. --Roger Thomas

  • Puccini: Madama Butterfly -- La Scala/Maazel [1986] Puccini: Madama Butterfly -- La Scala/Maazel | DVD | (31/10/2000) from £23.25  |  Saving you £1.74 (7.00%)  |  RRP £24.99

    This 1986 production of Madama Butterfly strives, with its Japanese director and designer, for authenticity in the Japanese setting, yet is somehow entirely Italian at the same time. Yasuko Hayashi's Cio-Cio-San is surprisingly tough, rejecting the arguments of her uncle and the marriage broker with more anger than usual, and her suicide is as much a moral statement of integrity as a sentimental gesture. Accordingly, Dvorsky's sexually magnetic Pinkerton is even less sympathetic--you can see what she sees in him, but he is arrogant and a user, except when he is being lyrical--and Zancanaro's Sharpless, the consul who expedites Pinkerton's betrayal of his wife but develops his own compassion for her, is all the more complex and interesting. The production has real charm as well as authenticity on its side; the staging of the love duet is impressive in its use of shadow and delicate light. Maazel's interpretation has a forceful energy that the recording impressively conveys. --Roz KaveneyOn the DVD: The DVD has scene selection, and subtitles in German, French and English; the menu adds Spanish.

  • Rameau - Platée / Marc Minkowski, Laurent Pelly, Opéra de Paris Rameau - Platée / Marc Minkowski, Laurent Pelly, Opéra de Paris | DVD | (19/03/2004) from £26.55  |  Saving you £3.44 (11.50%)  |  RRP £29.99

    Platee - Rameau

  • Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail - Mozart [1991] Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail - Mozart | DVD | (03/04/2006) from £11.17  |  Saving you £3.74 (15.00%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Recorded live at the Rococo Theatre Schwetzingen May 1991.Directed for TV by Claus Viller.A stage production of the Oper der Stadt Koln and the Opera de Nice from the Schwetzinger Festspiele.

  • Tchaikovsky: Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades) [1992] Tchaikovsky: Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades) | DVD | (21/01/2002) from £14.50  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    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

  • Mozart - Don Giovanni [2006] Mozart - Don Giovanni | DVD | (28/04/2008) from £14.99  |  Saving you £0.00 (0.00%)  |  RRP £22.99

  • Mozart: Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) -- Royal Opera House/Davis [2003] Mozart: Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) -- Royal Opera House/Davis | DVD | (22/08/2003) from £20.05  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    A performance of the David McVicar production of Mozart's last opera. Colin Davis conducts the Royal Opera Chorus and Orchestra. Recorded at Covent Garden.

  • Coppelia Coppelia | DVD | (03/04/2002) from £24.99  |  Saving you £0.00 (0.00%)  |  RRP £24.99

    The Royal Ballet.Orchestra of The Royal Opera House.Conducted by Nicolae Moldoveanu.Coppelia, a mechanical doll made by the toy-maker Dr. Coppelius, is so lifelike that some believe she is his daughter. The mistake leads to intrigue and jealousy in love.This 19th century classic, in an enchanting production of Royal Ballet choreographer Dame Ninette de Valois, with original designs by Sir Osbert Lancaster, was broadcast live by BBC television in February 2000.

  • Mozart - Le Nozze Di Figaro Mozart - Le Nozze Di Figaro | DVD | (14/03/2008) from £22.59  |  Saving you £7.40 (24.70%)  |  RRP £29.99

    Recorded live at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden London on 10th 13th and 17th February 2006.

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