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Verdi: La Traviata -- Glyndebourne | DVD | (31/10/2000)
from £16.30 | Saving you £8.69 (34.80%) | RRP
Performances of La Traviata stand or fall to an unusual extent on their principal soprano; the first thing that needs saying about this Glyndebourne performance is that Marie McLaughlin has all of the attributes needed for a role that is fundamentally a virtuoso one, no matter how emotionally involving it is as well. The point about Violetta is that she is, with absolute authenticity, all of the things she becomes in the course of the opera--the febrile socialite and yearning love of Act One, the quiet domesticated woman of Act Two who sacrifices her love for Alfredo to precisely the family values he has talked her into espousing, the dying penitent of Act Three. Walter McNeil is an impressive poetic Alfredo in whose successful courtship we can believe. He is also unusually good in Act Two, Scene Two where for once his public humiliation of Violetta is actually painful, which makes his repentance at her deathbed far more moving. Brent Ellis is solidly powerful as his father Germont--the duet in which he talks Violetta into renouncing his son and comes to value what he is destroying is one of the high points here, as it should be. Bernard Haitink conducts impressively. On the DVD: As (unfortunately) usual with Arthaus Musik, the DVD contains no extra features worth mentioning past the usual subtitles in German, English and French, relegating discussion of the opera's stormy history to the booklet. --Roz Kaveney
Prince Igor | DVD | (29/09/2003)
from £14.02 | Saving you £5.97 (29.90%) | RRP
Borodin's opera 'Prince Igor' performed by the Kirov Opera and Ballet. Tracklisting; Act 1 No. 2 Chorus of the Polovstan Maidens no. 3 Dance of the Polovtsian Maidens No. 4 Cavatina No. 6 recitative & Cavatina No. 7 Duet no. 8 Aria No. 9 Scena No.10 Aria No. 11 Recitative No. 12 Polovstian Dances & Chorus. Act 2 - No. 13a-c Chorus & Song No.13d-e Maidens Chorus & Scena No. 13f-g Song in Honour of Prince Galitsky Act 2 - No. 14 Arioso No. 15 Scena No.16 Scene No. 17 Fin
Otello | DVD | (11/04/2005)
from £4.29 | Saving you £11.70 (73.20%) | RRP
Internationally renowned director Franco Zeffirelli brings Verdi's masterpiece to the screen. Based on Shakespeare's enduring classic 'Otello' is an epic tragedy of jealousy and betrayal. When the scheming Iago (Diaz) believes Otello (Domingo) has overlooked him for promotion he wreaks a subtle and terrible revenge on his master convincing him that his young wife Desdemona (Katia Ricciarelli) is unfaithful. Otello realises the deception too late spiralling into madness and murd
Nabucco - Verdi | DVD | (07/02/2005)
from £10.20 | Saving you £4.79 (32.00%) | RRP
Verdi - Nabucco
Carmen | DVD | (23/04/2012)
from £7.46 | Saving you £5.53 (42.60%) | RRP
Based on the French novel and Bizet's most popular opera which it inspired Carlos Saura's exhilarating flamenco Carmen became an instant classic on its release and was rewarded with many international accolades including Academy Award nominations and prizes at the Cannes Film Festival. The film explores the legend by staging a modern ensemble of musicians and dancers busy rehearsing a flamenco interpretation of the Carmen story. The producer and star dancer is Antonio (Antonio Gades) chooses a girl named Carmen (Laura del Sol) to play 'his' Carmen but life begins tragically to imitate art...
Verdi - La Traviata | DVD | (12/11/2007)
from £9.54 | Saving you £5.45 (36.40%) | RRP
Acclaimed film and stage director Franco Zeffirelli spared no costs to reproduce the opulent setting of Violetta Val''ry''s happiness and downfall. The unparalleled musical quality of the production is guaranteed by some of the world''s most famous musicians: The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York conductor James Levine and singers Teresa Stratas and Placido Domingo. As Violetta soprano Teresa Stratas strikes the right balance between emotional grandeur and physical weakness. And with his meltingly lyrical voice and magnetic stage presence Placido Domingo embodies Alfredo Germont with a rarely seen passion.
Madama Butterfly - Puccini | DVD | (09/05/2005)
from £11.65 | Saving you £3.34 (22.30%) | RRP
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
Mozart - Le Nozze Di Figaro | DVD | (03/03/2008)
from £20.34 | Saving you £9.65 (32.20%) | RRP
Recorded live at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden London on 10th 13th and 17th February 2006.
Tristan Und Isolde - Wagner/Daniel Barenboim | DVD | (16/07/2007)
from £14.89 | Saving you £5.10 (25.50%) | RRP
Daniel Barenboim conducts Bayreuth's landmark 1983 production of Wagner's quintessential Romantic music-drama Tristan Und Isolde. The great Wagnerian singers Ren'' Kollo and Johanna Meier perform the title roles in Wagner's romantic masterpiece. Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's celebrated Bayreuth production is filmed on the Festspielhaus stage with six cameras and in digital sound to recreate the unique intensity of a live performance in studio quality. With its exceptional cast of singers - plus the thoughtful staging by Ponelle and the musical expertise of Daniel Barenboim - this DVD is one of the finest Tristan and Isolde productions ever
The Mikado | DVD | (22/08/2011)
from £11.25 | Saving you £5.74 (33.80%) | RRP
Based on the stage production by Anthony Besch.
Gaetano Donizetti - La Fille du régiment / Dessay, Florez, Palmer, Corbelli, French, Campanella, Pelly (Royal Opera House 2007) | DVD | (21/04/2008)
from £10.46 | Saving you £3.53 (25.20%) | RRP
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
Janacek - From The House Of The Dead | DVD | (17/03/2008)
from £10.26 | Saving you £5.73 (35.80%) | RRP
Leos Janacek: From The House Of The Dead, performed by various performers and conducted by Pierre Bouelz.
Il Trittico | DVD | (22/03/2004)
from £11.16 | Saving you £6.83 (38.00%) | RRP
Puccini's trio of mini masterpieces Il Trittico features a melodrama (Il Tabarro) a sentimental piece (Suor Angelica) and finally a comedy (Gianni Schicchi). These three one-act operas feature some of Puccini's most beautiful music. Puccini's passionate and ruggedly realistic opera Il Tabarro is a tale of deception and murder along the banks of the Seine. Suor Angelica is the story of Sister Angelica who was born a princess but had an illegitmate son and so was banished to a co
Puccini: Tosca -- 2002 Film Version | DVD | (23/06/2003)
from £18.09 | Saving you £6.90 (27.60%) | RRP
Benoit Jacquot's filmed Tosca treads a fine line between operatic staginess and cinematic contrivance. As per the libretto, each act takes place in a single setting, but with the singers here miming to a pre-recorded soundtrack. Jacquot freely reminds us of the conceit with cutaways to the recording session itself--revealing conductor, orchestra and soloists at work--thus a bridge is made between the on-screen action and the music-making itself, and the inherent duality of any opera production is laid refreshingly bare. The same cannot be said for the director's decision to interpolate spoken dialogue over the music in key places--a distraction not an enhancement. Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna are glamorous and attractive enough to make the most of their Hollywood-style close-ups; their singing easily bears similar close scrutiny--as anyone who owns the CD soundtrack album will surely already know. If Alagna lacks a little power as Cavaradossi on record, his charismatic screen presence happily compensates; Gheorghiu is both vocally and physically almost ideal as Tosca. Ruggero Raimondi's Scarpia completes an outstanding trio, and in the pit (or, rather, in the studio) conductor Antonio Pappano handles the drama of Puccini's score without missing a single nuance. Both musically and visually, then, this is a Tosca to treasure. On the DVD: Tosca on disc looks vibrant in this warm, widescreen picture accompanied by a DTS 5.1 soundtrack. Three filmed interviews--with Gheorghiu, Pappano and Jacquot--provide some insight into the making of this production. --Mark Walker
Oedipus Rex - Stravinsky | DVD | (06/06/2005)
from £11.68 | Saving you £3.31 (22.10%) | RRP
Opera-oratorio in two acts. Poem after Sophocles by Jean Cocteau.
Johnny Cash and June Carter - Went to Glastonbury | DVD | (28/07/2008)
from £N/A | Saving you £N/A (N/A%) | RRP
The Glastonbury Festival on a hot English Sunday in June 1994: 100 000 fans enthusiastically celebrate Johnny Cash. The Man in Black enters the stage takes a bath in the press camera flashlights and starts playing one hit after another with his band from Walk The Line to Ring Of Fire. Then he clears his throat to metamorphose into the solo country blues folkman that brilliant Def Jam producer Rick Rubin invented for American Recordings a fabulous album that was released shortly before the 1994 European Tour and ignited Johnny's sensational comeback to the music scene. Johnny Cash is the hero of the day: an old man who went out to cover songs written by what could have been his children or grandchildren and made him a legend in his own lifetime. Tracklist: 1. Folsom Prison Blues 2. Sunday Morning Coming Down 3. Ring Of Fire 4. Ghost Riders In The Sky 5. Guess Things Happen That Way 6. Interview By Johnny Walker 7. Delias Gone 8. The Beast In Me 9. Let The Train Whistle Blow 10. The Man Who Couldnt Cry 11. Jackson (with June Carter) 12. If I Were A Carpenter ( with June Carter) 13. Orange Blossom Special 14. Interview by Johnny Walker 15. A Boy Named Sue
Mozart: Don Giovanni -- Zurich/Harnoncourt | DVD | (12/03/2002)
from £N/A | 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
Cavalleria Rusticana - Mascagni / Pagliacci - Leoncavallo | DVD | (09/05/2005)
from £11.18 | Saving you £3.81 (25.40%) | RRP
The great Italian stage and screen director Franco Zeffirelli made these widely acclaimed films both starring Placido Domingo with Georges Pretre conducting the Orchestra and Chorus of La Scala. Pagliacci which co-stars the great singing actress Teresa Stratas brought Zeffirelli the coveted Emmy as Best Director in the category of Classical Music Programming. Cavalleria was filmed on location in Sicily which adds immeasurably to the power and atmosphere of this timeless story of love honour justice and violence.
L'Elisir D'Amore - Donizetti | DVD | (04/11/2005)
from £8.76 | Saving you £6.23 (41.60%) | RRP
L'Elisir D'AmoreMelodramma In Two Acts.
Offenbach: Les Contes d'Hoffmann -- Royal Opera House/Pretre | DVD | (22/09/2003)
from £12.94 | Saving you £5.05 (28.10%) | RRP
This famous and highly-praised Royal Opera production by film director John Schlesinger filmed in 1981 is as good as we are ever likely to see. The spectacular designs by Maria Bjornson and William Dudley vividly bring Hoffman's nightmare world to life. The brilliant cast is led by Placido Domingo as Hoffmann in one of his towering portrayals. He has become wholly identified with this part in a way that no other artist has.