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Verdi - Falstaff / Graham Vick, Bernard Haitink, Royal Opera House | DVD | (10/10/2001)
from £24.99 | Saving you £0.00 (0.00%) | RRP
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
Natural World | DVD | (25/06/2007)
from £5.99 | Saving you £N/A (N/A%) | RRP
Fromthe ice age and woolly mammoth to the oceans and rainforests Discovery looks at all that is incredible about our world
Mozart: Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) | DVD | (05/11/2007)
from £2.93 | Saving you £10.06 (77.40%) | RRP
Monumental production on the biggest open air stage in Europe July 1999. Stars MAxim Mihailove the Junge Bundeslander Philharmonic and Stagione d'Opera Italiana.
Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen -- Metropolitan/Levine | DVD | (14/10/2002)
from £45.99 | Saving you £0.00 (0.00%) | RRP
The James Levine cycle of Wagners Der Ring des Nibelungen is humane and emotionally powerful rather than monumental or spiritual; Levine is more interested in finding our sympathy for the characters than inspiring pity or terror. These are very traditional productions in which you see a rock where you need to see a rock, a dragon where the libretto says a dragon (the Metropolitan Opera has never been a place for experiment). What Levine and the Met can and do offer is excellent orchestral playing and some of the best singers in these roles in the world. Siegfried Jerusalem is boyish and naive and touching as Siegfried, and he is also surprisingly good as the detached mischievous Loge of Das Rheingold. James Morris is uniformly impressive as Wotan and makes the character evolve from the young ruthless god of the first opera to the tired old god of Siegfried, who seeks nothing more than his own necessary defeat and death. As Brunnhilde, Hildegard Behrens makes a convincing shift from goddess to woman, from callousness to tenderness and on to vindictiveness and self-sacrificing wisdom. Overall, this is an attractive Ring cycle, well-cast and beautifully played; others have greater strengths in some areas, but Levine is reliable across the board. On the DVD: Der Ring des Nibelungen has all four operas, which are also available individually, contained in a single box. All the DVDs come with a photo gallery of the Metropolitan Opera productions and with menus and subtitles in German, French, English, Spanish and Chinese. Its a little disappointing, though, that they are presented in American NTSC format, not European PAL, and the picture ratio is standard TV 4:3. On the plus side, they all have an excellent clear acoustic in the three audio options: PCM stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1. --Roz Kaveney
Strauss: Elektra | DVD | (03/07/2000)
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Richard Strauss's wildest and most passionate opera gets an almost ideal performance in this 1989 production with three great female singers at the height of their powers. Marton is terrifyingly unreasonable as Elektra, determined to mourn her dead father in the face of her mother who had him killed, and to hope and pray for the vengeance that her brother will one day bring. Told he is dead, her emotional collapse is equally total, and her eventual self-destructive dance of triumph is a bittersweet ecstasy of anger and joy. Studer gives the sometimes underplayed role of the normal, compromising "feminine" sister the weight and sympathy Strauss intended it to have. Fassbaender is electric as Clytemnestra, collapsing under the weight of her guilt and paranoia, but still scarily sexy and regal in her manipulation of those around her. Abbado's conducting is electric--from the opening "Agamemnon" chords to the final dying fall of Elektra's dance, he never puts a foot wrong or misjudges the pacing of this most difficult of opera scores. The DVD has subtitles in English, German and French. --Roz Kaveney
Hamlet - Ambroise Thomas | DVD | (06/09/2004)
from £11.75 | Saving you £6.24 (34.70%) | RRP
Staged at the Gran Teatro Del Liceu in Barcelona October 2003 this opera - written by Ambroise Thomas - is performed by the Symphony Orchestra And Chorus of the Gran Teatro Del Liceu; conducted by Bertrand De Billy.
Cimarosa - Il Matrimonio Segreto (Travis, Fissore, Baiano) | DVD | (29/01/2007)
from £11.99 | Saving you £3.00 (20.00%) | RRP
Partly based on the 1766 English comedy 'The Clandestine Marriage' by David Garrick and George Colman, Domenico Cimarosa's Il Matrimono Segreto was a widely popular example of opera buffa in its day. This sparkling comedy tells the story of Geronimo, a wealthy citizen of Bologna, who is trying to arrange aristocratic marriages for his two daughters, Carolina and Elisetta. However his plans seem destined to fail as his daughter Carolina is already secretly married to Paolino, his young secretary. Through a series of humorous situations the young couple confess their marriage and all ends well.
Don Carlo - The Royal Opera | DVD | (24/10/2005)
from £10.90 | Saving you £7.09 (39.40%) | RRP
Set in France and Spain in the second half of the sixteenth century Don Carlo tells the story of the political and amorous rivalry between Philip II of Spain and his son Don Carlo. Luchino Visconti's magnificent and definitive Royal Opera production of Verdi's Don Carlo was first seen in 1958 and is seen here in a staging by Christopher Renshaw filmed in 1985. The Visconti sets recreate the forest of Fontainebleau the monastery of San Yuste and Don Carlo's dark underground prison with equal effectiveness. The superb cast is led by Ileana Cotrubas as a tender and touching Elisabetta the fine lyric tenor Luis Lima in the title role and the great baritone Giorgio Zancanaro as Rodrigo. The conductor is Bernard Haitink.
Bizet - Carmen (Levine, Metropolitan Opera) | DVD | (20/11/2000)
from £13.99 | Saving you £0.00 (0.00%) | RRP
George Bizet's opera 'Carmen' performed by the Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orchestra. Conducted by James Levine.
Otello - Verdi | DVD | (12/04/2004)
from £11.99 | Saving you £5.00 (29.40%) | RRP
Filmed at the Metropolitan Opera House in 1995 this rendition of Verdi's 'Otello' is beautifully crafted by leading stars Placido Domingo and Renee Fleming. This was the first major success for Fleming at the Met and as this release illustrates she tackled the character of Desdemona wonderfully.
The Ultimate Opera Collection | DVD | (14/05/2007)
from £8.72 | Saving you £11.27 (56.40%) | RRP
Titles Comprise: CARMEN by Bizet from the St. Margarethen Opera Festival 1998 AIDA by Verdi from the St. Margarethen Opera Festival 1997 DON GIOVANNI by Mozart from the Prague National Theatre 1991 TOSCA by Puccini from the O'Keefe Centre Toronto 1989 NABUCCO by Verdi from the St. Margarethen Opera Festival 2000.
Verdi - Nabucco | DVD | (31/12/2007)
from £4.01 | Saving you £4.53 (30.20%) | RRP
Giuseppe Verdi's 'Nabucco' filmed at the State Theatre, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne, Australia, May 7, 1996.
Mozart: Die Zauberflote (The Magic Flute) -- Metropolitan Opera/Levine | DVD | (24/03/2003)
from £12.72 | Saving you £4.27 (25.10%) | RRP
A performance of Mozart's 'The Magic Flute' by puppet theatre.
Andrea Bocelli - Sacred Arias | DVD | (03/12/2007)
from £6.30 | Saving you £3.50 (23.30%) | RRP
In reflecting on this DVD of sacred arias it is significant that Andrea Bocelli refers to the dawn of 'a new millennium' and it is appropriate that this concert was taped in Rome. In no other city of the world did the millennium have such immediate resonance and what better place for the recording of a universal jubilee celebrating the two-thousandth anniversary of the birth of Christ?
Die Walkure - Wagner | DVD | (02/05/2005)
from £12.50 | Saving you £5.34 (15.30%) | RRP
In the second work of Wagner's epic cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen Wotan faces the consequences of his actions begun in Das Rheingold while his daughter Brunnhilde emerges as the heroic voice of the conscience he strives to silence. Struggles of power mix with adulterous and incestuous love in an episode of dramatic vengeance. Filmed at Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu in 2003 Harry Kupfer's acclaimed production first staged in Berlin numbers among the greatest productions of modern times and is recorded in sumptuous surround sound.
Verdi: Otello -- La Scala/Muti | DVD | (19/09/2003)
from £21.55 | Saving you £3.44 (13.80%) | RRP
Riccardi Muti conducts a performance of Otello at the La Scala Theatre before the start of a three year renovation project.
Andrea Bocelli - Tuscan Skies | DVD | (10/11/2003)
from £12.97 | Saving you £2.02 (13.50%) | RRP
Andrea Bocelli - Tuscan Skies
R. Strauss: Capriccio -- San Francisco Opera | DVD | (26/06/2003)
from £20.05 | Saving you £4.94 (19.80%) | RRP
The last and most subtle of Richard Strauss's operas, Capriccio gets a finely nuanced interpretation in this San Francisco Opera production. A generally excellent cast is highlighted not only by the radiant presence of Kiri Te Kanawa but by the deceptively robust performance of Tatiana Troyanos in her last operatic appearance before her untimely death from cancer. The composer described Capriccio as a "conversation piece for music in one act", and he put much effort into not only the music but the words, on which he collaborated with conductor Clemens Krauss. Krauss's verbal input was particularly appropriate in this work, because the real subject (symbolised by a conventional love triangle) is the competition (and alliance) between words and music in opera, a subject naturally close to the composer-librettist's heart. The conversation runs through the whole opera in various forms. It begins immediately after the curtain goes up, with a quarrel between the poet Olivier (Simon Keenlyside) and the composer Flamand (David Kuebler) over the respective merits of their arts. They are rivals for the hand of the widowed Countess Madeleine (Te Kanawa); she is to choose between them (i.e., between poetry and music) but she is still undecided as the final curtain descends. The intervening two hours are rich in artistic shop talk and backstage situations that will enchant sophisticated opera-lovers, as well as the love interest for the rest of us. David Runnicles conducts with a sure sense of Straussian style; and Mauro Pagano's 18th-century set creates the right atmosphere. Keenlyside and Kuebler are eloquent and believable, Te Kanawa sweet, regal and ambiguous. Hakan Hagegard and Victor Braun give particularly vivid performances in supporting roles. --Joe McLellan
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 £25.35 | Saving you £4.64 (15.50%) | RRP
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.
Wagner: Parsifal | DVD | (14/10/2002)
from £16.39 | Saving you £5.60 (25.50%) | RRP
A performance of Wagner's opera 'Parsifal' featuring the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus. Conducted by James Levine. The action takes place in the Middle Ages. At the castle of Monsalvat cut off from the rest of the world the brotherhood of Grail Knights guards the chalice in which the blood of the crucified Saviour had once been caught. In an effort to seize possession of the Grail Klingsor a powerful magician has established his realm at the foot of the mountain peop