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  • Bellini: Norma Bellini: Norma | DVD | (02/04/2001) from £20.05  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    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

  • Burn The Floor Burn The Floor | DVD | (19/05/2008) from £26.90  |  Saving you £-13.91 (-107.10%)  |  RRP £12.99

    Conceived directed and choreographed by World Champion Ballroom dancer Jason Gilkison who choreographed the original 'Burn the Floor' which has been seen by over 3 million people worldwide. 'Floor Play' has been ten years in the making and features a hand picked cast of dancers.

  • 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 £22.59  |  Saving you £7.40 (24.70%)  |  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.

  • Lord of the Dance [1996] Lord of the Dance | DVD | (01/10/1999) from £23.80  |  Saving you £-7.81 (-48.80%)  |  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 - Gran Gala Di Verdi (Mehta, Orchestra Del Mmf, Cura) Verdi - Gran Gala Di Verdi (Mehta, Orchestra Del Mmf, Cura) | DVD | (05/03/2007) from £6.77  |  Saving you £1.80 (7.80%)  |  RRP £22.99

  • Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro -- 1966 Salzburg Festival/Bohm Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro -- 1966 Salzburg Festival/Bohm | DVD | (19/09/2003) from £29.99  |  Saving you £0.00 (0.00%)  |  RRP £29.99

    A performance of Mozart's Le Nozze Di Figaro featured at the Salzburg Festival in 1966. Karl Bohm conducts the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

  • Carmen - Bizet Carmen - Bizet | DVD | (29/10/2004) from £6.95  |  Saving you £3.96 (15.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Bizet: Carmen (Zeffirelli)

  • Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmelites [1999] Poulenc: Dialogues des Carmelites | DVD | (16/08/2000) from £20.05  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Poulenc's late pious works for voice share the sprightliness of his early secular orchestral and chamber pieces; this is perhaps especially true of his 1952 work of devotion and martyrdom. Young aristocrat Blanche seeks refuge in the cloister from her fear of death only to find the Carmelites she joins the object of persecution by the Jacobin Revolution; she flees, but then comes back to share her sisters' death--a powerful scene in which a hymn is stripped down a voice at a time, and finally silenced when Blanche joins them on the guillotine. Anne Sophie Schmidt as Blanche is convincing both in her terror and her resignation; Patricia Petibon is delightful as her closest friend, the lively young nun Constance to whom fear is never especially an issue and who has sought death cheerfully from the start, praying that the dying Prioress might be saved and she taken in her place. The older women--the two Prioresses and Mere Marie who persuades the nuns to refuse compromise--are equally fine in their graver music. --Roz Kaveney

  • Lohengrin - Richard Wagner [1990] Lohengrin - Richard Wagner | DVD | (28/03/2003) from £25.35  |  Saving you £4.64 (15.50%)  |  RRP £29.99

    Richard Wagner was a one-man artistic movement a figure so massive that his influence was felt by all of his contemporaries and all of his major successors.Wolfgang Weber's simple staging muted colours dark clouds barren landscapes and simple shapes succeeds in evoking clear middle ages symbolism. His staging does not impress by means of the spectacular but underlines the dramatic sense embodied in the music allowing the outstanding singers full scope to express themselves.This remarkable production under Claudio Abbado has a stellar cast. Cheryl Studer as Elsa and Placido Domingo as Lohengrin (a role which he first performed on debut at the Hamburg State Opera in 1968 at the age of 27) are the cornerstone of a dream cast.

  • Tchaikovsky Gala (Swan Lake/Sleeping Beauty/The Nutcracker) Roberto Bolle / La Scala [Blu-ray] [2007] Tchaikovsky Gala (Swan Lake/Sleeping Beauty/The Nutcracker) Roberto Bolle / La Scala | Blu Ray | (24/11/2008) from £21.25  |  Saving you £8.74 (29.10%)  |  RRP £29.99

  • Offenbach: Des Contes D'Hoffmann [1993] Offenbach: Des Contes D'Hoffmann | DVD | (25/04/2001) from £9.99  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Unfortunately the qualities that make Jacques Offenbach's operetta The Tales of Hoffmann an irresistible melodic profusion of wit, dash and unfailing high spirits are only in evidence in the playing of the Lyon Opera Orchestra under Kent Nagano: operetta, more than its serious cousin, continues to be fair game for the whims of producers and designers. In this case an excellent cast including Daniel Galvez-Vallejo as Hoffmann, Natalie Dessay as Olympia, Brigitte Balley as Nicklausse and Isabelle Vernet as Giulietta, as well as Gabriel Bacquier who sings three roles, are obliged to perform Offenbach's operetta in a lunatic asylum designed by Philippe Starck as a three-dimensional grey set, topped with barbed wire. The production by Louis Erlo adapts and cuts scenes to fit this concept, so the tavern scene where Hoffmann sings his celebrated number "The Legend of Kleinzack" disappears, as do the chorus who are banished to the wings. In this environment there's no room for charm or even a kind of mad-hatter behaviour. The cast are reduced to stereotypes and of necessity singularly unlovable ones. What a wasted opportunity. The sound is excellent as it is on two fillers: a short film of Penderecki conducting his choral work, The Seven Gates to Jerusalem from the Midem festival at Cannes and a trailer for a Lyon Opera House production of Berlioz's Damnation of Faust. --Adrian Edwards

  • Janacek: Jenufa -- Glyndebourne [1989] Janacek: Jenufa -- Glyndebourne | DVD | (22/06/2001) from £20.05  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Janacek's masterpiece Jenufa, captured in this 1989 Glyndebourne Festival Opera production, is among the most revived modernist works. Compared with much grand opera, the story of one woman's struggle to rise free from social constraints at a terrible cost is remarkably poignant, credible and accessible. Scenes are short and intense. The music shimmers with Janacek's characteristic blend of sweetness and sharp dissonance. His men are damaged and angry; his women kick against the expectations of convention. Tragedy is inevitable, but here, unusually, hope triumphs. In the title role, Roberta Alexander is utterly convincing as the stepdaughter of the Kostelnicka Buryja, placing her love and trust in the wrong man with dire consequences. As the Kostelnicka, Anja Silja turns in an equally towering performance, unravelling with the awful consequences of her pragmatism. Alexander's fluid soprano reveals the extraordinary beauty of some of Janacek's finest arias: the moment when she becomes supernaturally aware of her baby's fate--it's "as if death was peering into the house!"--and is actually singing prayers for its soul is quite overwhelming. This Jenufa is sung splendidly; a revelation of the essential humanity which lurks at the heart of the greatest operas. On the DVD: This production was filmed for Channel 4 and has all the hallmarks of a 1980s television broadcast: standard 4:3 picture format which limits the impact of Tobias Hoheisel's magnificent expressionistic set; PCM stereo which somewhat dulls Andrew Davis' sterling, powerful work at the helm of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (although the principal singers shine through); poor subtitles; and static freeze-frame links between scenes. As a record of an important production, though, it suffices. --Piers Ford

  • Prokofiev/Stravinsky/Struchkova/Vasiliev - Lt. Kije Prokofiev/Stravinsky/Struchkova/Vasiliev - Lt. Kije | DVD | (02/08/2007) from £22.75  |  Saving you £0.24 (1.00%)  |  RRP £22.99

  • Joan Sutherland - The Complete Bell Telephone Hour Performances 1961-1968 Joan Sutherland - The Complete Bell Telephone Hour Performances 1961-1968 | DVD | (30/11/2001) from £21.25  |  Saving you £3.74 (15.00%)  |  RRP £24.99

  • Lucia Di Lammermoor Lucia Di Lammermoor | DVD | (20/08/2004) from £20.05  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    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

  • Maria Callas - La Callas... Toujours - Paris, 1958 Maria Callas - La Callas... Toujours - Paris, 1958 | DVD | (26/03/2001) from £8.63  |  Saving you £-14.01 (-87.60%)  |  RRP £15.99

    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

  • Rameau - Les Boréades / Robert Carsen, La La La Human Steps, Les Arts Florissants, William Christie, Opéra National de Paris [2003] Rameau - Les Boréades / Robert Carsen, La La La Human Steps, Les Arts Florissants, William Christie, Opéra National de Paris | DVD | (20/06/2004) from £22.59  |  Saving you £7.40 (24.70%)  |  RRP £29.99

    A performance of the Rameau opera which follows the tale of Queen Alphise who is contemplating abdication rather that an arranged marriage.

  • Glass: Satyagraha [1981] Glass: Satyagraha | DVD | (04/01/2001) from £20.05  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Based on an original scenario by Philip Glass and Constance De Jong 'Satyagraha'. Performed in Sanskrit.Act 1. Tolstoy.Act 2. Tagore.Act 3. Martin Luther King.

  • Giuseppe Verdi - Rigoletto [2004] Giuseppe Verdi - Rigoletto | DVD | (02/10/2006) from £21.55  |  Saving you £3.44 (13.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Verdi: Rigoletto (Cobos / Alvarez / Mula)

  • Ballet Dancer Double Ballet Dancer Double | DVD | (16/04/2007) from £21.78  |  Saving you £-11.79 (-118.00%)  |  RRP £9.99

    Girls of all ages love putting on their ballet shoes and dancing. This delightful collection shows aspiring ballerinas everything they need to do to dance beautifully and gracefully. Includes How to be a Ballet Dancer and You can be a Ballet Dancer.

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