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  • Boulevard Solitude (Sub Ac3 Dts) [2007] Boulevard Solitude (Sub Ac3 Dts) | DVD | (17/09/2007) from £11.17  |  Saving you £3.74 (15.00%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Hans Werner Henze:Boulevard Solitude

  • Previn: A Streetcar Named Desire [1998] Previn: A Streetcar Named Desire | DVD | (28/02/2001) from £21.25  |  Saving you £3.74 (15.00%)  |  RRP £24.99

    André Previn's first opera, A Streetcar Named Desire, is an intelligent adaptation of Tennessee Williams' play, written to be performed by two very strong principals. Renée Fleming's performance as Blanche Dubois is one of the best things she has done, full of a dangerous bravado and a vulnerability that wins us despite our irritation. The role is one which gives her voice ample opportunity both for extended displays of controlled, passionate singing and for those moments when singing by itself is enough and the voice has to break off in sorrow or madness. Rodney Gilfrey as Stanley Kowalski is equally fine--his voice has the right dangerous energy. In the important subsidiary roles of Stella and Mitch, Elizabeth Futral and Anthony Dean Griffey are also remarkable. Futral in particular gives a total performance in which we forget to make a distinction between her acting and her singing. The opera itself is, as you would expect, one of the most accessible new scores to arrive on the opera stage for some years, drawing heavily on the legacy of jazz and with that nervous musical intensity we associate with the play. Previn conducts the San Francisco Opera Orchestra effectively. A complete CD recording with the same cast is also available.On the DVD: The DVD comes with menus in English, French, German and Spanish and sub-titles in French and German. It is presented in 4:3 ratio and with PCM stereo sound. The booklet gives a moderately interesting account of the opera's genesis. --Roz Kaveney

  • Merlin Merlin | DVD | (19/03/2004) from £26.55  |  Saving you £3.44 (11.50%)  |  RRP £29.99

    An opera in three acts from the Teatro Real Madrid. Enjoy the world premiere of the full and original version of Merlin by Isaac Albniz over a century after he completed the work. Albniz composed this 'Wagnerian' opera to an English libretto by his patron Francis Burdett Money-Coutts between 1898 and 1902. Many believed the score was lost until the conductor Jos De Eusebio reconstructed it from various manuscript sources and publishers' proofs. For this stunning production dire

  • 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

  • The Merry Widow - Lehar The Merry Widow - Lehar | DVD | (23/06/2003) from £14.99  |  Saving you £3.44 (13.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    A production of the Franz Lehar opera The Merry Widow. New dialogue was commissioned from the playwright Wendy Wasserstein.

  • Berlioz: La Damnation de Faust [1999] Berlioz: La Damnation de Faust | DVD | (15/05/2000) from £20.05  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    This imaginative staging of Berlioz's dramatic symphony for chorus, soloists and orchestra relies heavily on the moving of massed choirs across a large stage. It has vivid lighting effects--rather too many of them using strobes--and monolithic multi-purpose sets, in particular a revolving glass drum which functions both as cinema screen and rostrum for singers, so that the final ride to Hell, for example, is sung by Mephistopheles and Faust above a cavalcade of projected horses, like the inside of a zoetrope. The three main soloists have voices on a scale that can compete with these flashy production values--White and Kasarova, in particular, sing at a level of intensity that would swamp anything less; the climactic seduction trio has rarely been sung so well or with such an overpoweringly polymorphous eroticism. Cambreling marshals his forces effectively, giving full rein to the work's showstoppers like the "Hungarian March" but not neglecting the subtler less kinetic Gluckian side of Berlioz's vocal writing. The DVD has subtitles in English, German and Dutch, and menus in those languages, as well as French, Italian, Spanish and Swedish. --Roz Kaveney

  • War And Peace - Prokofiev [1991] War And Peace - Prokofiev | DVD | (01/04/2004) from £25.35  |  Saving you £4.64 (15.50%)  |  RRP £29.99

    A performance of Prokofiev's opera at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. Valery Gergiev conducts the Kirov Opera Orchestra. Sung in Russian.

  • Verdi: Il Trovatore -- Opera Australia [1983] Verdi: Il Trovatore -- Opera Australia | DVD | (05/06/2002) from £21.25  |  Saving you £3.74 (15.00%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Il Trovatore, Verdi's 1853 maelstrom of passion, infanticide, double-crossing and revenge, would be a mightily gamy affair if it didn't contain some of his finest arias, a cracker of a tenor's role and one of opera's most powerfully-written characters in the old gypsy woman, Azucena. Although Joan Sutherland, who plays the self-sacrificing lady-in-waiting Leonora in this 1983 Australia Opera production at Sydney Opera House, is the headline star, in truth the supreme assets of this recording are mezzo-soprano Lauris Elms' Azucena, a beautifully sung performance of haunted, wild-eyed sadness; and Sydney Nolan's wonderfully infernal sets, all purple and burnt ochre with suggestions of distorted faces. Sutherland came late to a part which allowed her to sing up a storm without taxing her rather stolid acting style. Her husband and musical director Richard Bonynge gives her the space to unleash some of Verdi's most fluidly opulent melodies--"D'amor sull'ali rosee" is a case in point--whose beauty is often at odds with the underlying horrors of the tale, based on a rather dodgy Spanish melodrama by Gutierrez. Sutherland has strong support from tenor Kenneth Collins as the doomed Manrico and Jonathan Summers as the vengeful Count. On the DVD: Il Trovatore on disc offers the inevitable shortcomings of a filmed for television performance: to the detriment of Nolan's designs (and the hard-pressed make-up team), the lighting doesn't translate well to video. Presented in 4:3 picture format, the quality is frequently murky. The PCM Stereo soundtrack also has its flat and fuzzy moments, particularly during chorus scenes ("Vedi! Le fosche notturne spoglie") when the orchestra drowns out the singing. But on the whole Sutherland et al sound great.--Piers Ford

  • Tosca - Puccini [2003] Tosca - Puccini | DVD | (18/06/2004) from £10.12  |  Saving you £3.44 (11.50%)  |  RRP £29.99

    The story of betrayal and lust performed by the Teatro Real Chorus and Orchestra; conducted by Maurizio Benini. Recorded during the 2003-2004 season at Teatro Real.

  • Handel - Serse / Rasmussen · Hallenberg · Bardon · Bayrakdarian · Piau · Lippi · Peirone · Les Talens Lyriques · Rousset · Hampe [Semperooper Dresden 2000] Handel - Serse / Rasmussen · Hallenberg · Bardon · Bayrakdarian · Piau · Lippi · Peirone · Les Talens Lyriques · Rousset · Hampe | DVD | (01/08/2005) from £21.03  |  Saving you £3.96 (15.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Opera in three acts.Recorded live at the Semperoper Dresden 2-3 June 2000.

  • Tchaikovsky: Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades) [1992] Tchaikovsky: Pique Dame (The Queen of Spades) | DVD | (21/01/2002) from £20.05  |  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

  • Beethoven - Fidelio [1968] Beethoven - Fidelio | DVD | (26/02/2007) from £9.93  |  Saving you £3.74 (15.00%)  |  RRP £24.99

  • Il Barbiere Di Siviglia [1988] Il Barbiere Di Siviglia | DVD | (17/04/2003) from £21.03  |  Saving you £3.96 (15.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Mozart - Il Barbiere Di Siviglia (Bartoli Kuebler)

  • Wagner: Die Walkure -- Metropolitan/Levine Wagner: Die Walkure -- Metropolitan/Levine | DVD | (14/10/2002) from £10.19  |  Saving you £1.40 (6.40%)  |  RRP £21.99

    The 1990 Metropolitan Opera performance of Die Walkure ("The Valkyrie") with James Levine conducting is a solid, four-square performance with few frills and no gimmicks, just extraordinarily fine singing and orchestral playing. There is no point in this where you find yourself asking why the director did something: this is the sort of production which could be criticised as unimaginative but defended as serving Wagner's intentions for this instalment of his Ring cycle. Levine and his orchestra give the music an emotional intensity that never overwhelms its grandeur, though perhaps in Wotan's farewell to Brunnhilde, we feel him more as father than as god. James Morris as Wotan has real stature, making us feel that he has finally created the free agents he needs to avoid the curse he has unleashed on the world, but he has broken his heart in the process. Jessye Norman is surprisingly good and erotically self-assured as Sieglinde; the Act 1 love duet with Gary Lake as Siegmund has an ardour that makes the incestuous aspect less a matter of perversity than of the conduct of heroes. Kurt Moll makes Sieglinde's rapist and husband Hunding, a three-dimensional sinister villain; and Christa Ludwig almost manages to sell us Fricka's interminable paean to family values. The most impressive performance here, though, is Hildegard Behrens as Brunnhilde, the steely godling who sacrifices everything because she learns to feel and to know what is right. On the DVD Die Walkure on disc comes with menus and subtitles in German, French, English, Spanish and Chinese and with a picture gallery of the production. Awkwardly it is presented in (American) NTSC format not PAL, with a visual aspect of standard TV 4:3. More impressive is the choice of PCM stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS 6.1; the sound is admirably clear and well-balanced. --Roz Kaveney

  • 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.

  • Cosi Fan Tutte - Mozart [1983] Cosi Fan Tutte - Mozart | DVD | (29/05/2006) from £24.14  |  Saving you £5.85 (19.50%)  |  RRP £29.99

    Dramma giocoso in due atti K588 in two acts.Recorded live at The Kleines Festspielhaus Salzburg August 1983.

  • Gounod: Romeo et Juliette [1995] Gounod: Romeo et Juliette | DVD | (19/11/2001) from £20.50  |  Saving you £14.49 (41.40%)  |  RRP £34.99

    A performance of Gounod's opera 'Romeo Et Juliette' in five acts recorded live at The Royal Opera House Covent Garden.

  • Hildegard Von Bingen In Portrait Hildegard Von Bingen In Portrait | DVD | (02/09/2003) from £21.03  |  Saving you £3.96 (15.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    A profile on one of the first female composers Hildegard Von Bingen (1098-1179) whose story is known. She believed that music had the power to heal. Disc one contains a performance of Ordo Virtutum with ensemble Vox Animae. Disc two contains a dramatised account of Hildegard's life performed by Patricia Routledge.

  • Puccini: La Boheme -- San Francisco/Severini [1988] Puccini: La Boheme -- San Francisco/Severini | DVD | (28/08/2000) from £N/A  |  Saving you £N/A (N/A%)  |  RRP £24.99

    One way to use the DVD format for opera is to provide a video format with a clear picture and sumptuous sound and let a good performance speak more or less for itself. Severini's La Boheme comes with a minimum of trimmings--subtitles in English, French and German; even a short account of the performance history is relegated to text in a booklet. The live performance has real theatrical presence, even to the extent that, at times, the vocal and orchestral subtleties get lost in wild applause. Pavarotti's Rodolfo was, in 1988, as plangently lyrical as ever and Freni's care-worn Mimi is a deeply touching and musical performance; Pacetti is a beefy full-blooded no-nonsense Musetta--the waltz song and ensuing duet with Marcello is for once the Broadway show-stopper it ought to be. Of the supporting roles, though, perhaps the most moving is Ghiaurov's Colline--his farewell to his old coat is a short passage of deep pathos which he has rarely sung as well as he does here. --Roz Kaveney

  • Claudio Abbado - A Verdi Gala From Berlin Claudio Abbado - A Verdi Gala From Berlin | DVD | (02/10/2006) from £11.17  |  Saving you £1.74 (7.60%)  |  RRP £22.99

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