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  • Gluck - Orphée et Eurydice / Robert Wilson, John Eliot Gardiner, Théâtre du Châtelet [1999] Gluck - Orphée et Eurydice / Robert Wilson, John Eliot Gardiner, Théâtre du Châtelet | DVD | (22/11/2000) from £22.28  |  Saving you £2.71 (10.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Gluck's 1762 opera Orphée et Eurydice was ground-breaking in its day and--as this 1999 performance from the Theatre Musical de Paris shows--it still lends itself to radical treatment. The composer's rejection of traditional flamboyant operatic bells and whistles led to a fresh form in which the lyrics hold court. The music provides the setting and emotional colour in a way that is almost physical in its intensity. Gluck's readiness to incorporate the influences of other art forms--poetry, ballet and drama--has always made this story of love rescued from the jaws of tragedy universally appealing. This production, directed by Robert Wilson and conducted by John Eliot Gardiner, is mesmerising. The all but ill-fated couple (Magdalena Kozena and Madeline Bender) move as if in a trance, their actions suggesting marionettes controlled by greater forces. Their faces are largely expressionless, leaving their voices to explore the force of the huge range of human emotions they must cover during the opera's 100 minutes. Only Cupid runs free. The performances are beautifully sung in French, Kozena bringing immense dignity to Orphée's lament, "J'ai perdu mon Eurydice". A powerful interpretation of an important work, fit for the 21st century. --Piers Ford

  • 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.

  • Verdi: Otello -- La Scala/Muti [2001] Verdi: Otello -- La Scala/Muti | DVD | (19/09/2003) from £21.55  |  Saving you £3.44 (13.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Riccardi Muti conducts a performance of Otello at the La Scala Theatre before the start of a three year renovation project.

  • 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

  • Beethoven: Fidelio [1991] Beethoven: Fidelio | DVD | (31/07/2000) from £9.99  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Beethoven's lone opera Fidelio had a troubled gestation, as its no fewer than four overtures suggest. The finished product, while obviously a work of genius, exposes its patchwork qualities even in the best of productions. Luckily, the 1991 staging by the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, is so lucid and intelligent that the opera--a forceful plea for freedom, even in the most severely dictatorial regimes--comes across as both a forceful drama and a thought-provoking "message".Stage director Adolf Dresen, together with set designer Margit Bardy and lighting designer Erich Falk, presents the characters (which on paper have a tendency to remain "types") as fully human, their interactions made understandable and plausible not only by Beethoven's humanising music but also the realistic period settings. Video director Derek Bailey has succeeded admirably at getting this across for the home viewer as well. Musically, this Fidelio is a whirlwind, with conductor Christoph von Dohnányi leading the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and the Royal Opera Chorus in an energetic but never too-fast performance (by the way, they perform the fourth overture); and the singers are top-notch vocally and dramatically. Soprano Gabriela Benacková makes an arresting, emotionally complex Leonore, and Josef Protschka as her imprisoned husband, Florestan, brings down the house with his impassioned aria at the beginning of Act II. --Kevin Filipski, Amazon.com

  • The Rape Of Lucretia - Britten [1987] The Rape Of Lucretia - Britten | DVD | (03/01/2006) from £19.39  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    The English National Opera Orchestra provide sumptuous musical accompaniment to this moving interpretation of 'The Rape Of Lucretia'. The story evokes strong passionate themes as one would expect from a thrilling combination of opera and Greek tragedy. Anthony Rolfe Johnson Jean Rigby Russell Smythe and Kathryn Harries infuse the lead roles with just the right amount of tension and passion making this a fascinating spectacle for the enthralled audience present and now for viewers at home as well.

  • Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress | DVD | (20/11/2001) from £9.99  |  Saving you £3.74 (15.00%)  |  RRP £24.99

    When this Salzburg Festival production of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress hit the stage in 1996, the reviews in the British press were red hot. Unfortunately Peter Mussbach's staging, though it has moments of theatrical flair, doesn't translate smoothly to the small screen in this live recording: his grand visual metaphors--an aeroplane that never takes off and stage-hands in anti-Enlightenment monkey costumes--look somewhat pinched. But Sylvain Cambreling's pacy conducting and the central performances come across with 1,000-watt energy. Dawn Upshaw is outstanding as Anne Trulove, bringing as much careful detail to her acting as she does brilliance to her vocal technique; and her performance of the Act I aria and cabaletta, "No word from Tom ... I go, I go to him", must rank among the best ever recorded. Jerry Hadley, dressed as a mullet-haired "yoof" in heavy-metal T-shirt and jeans, doesn't quite have the clarity and vocal agility of, say, Philip Langridge as Tom Rakewell, but the amusing yobbishness of his acting suits his louder redder-blooded performance beautifully. Rich-voiced Jane Henschel is hilarious as Baba the Turk, and uses her large frame with dainty, tippy-toe comic effect. On the DVD: the production is judiciously directed by Brian Large: there are plenty of carefully placed reaction shots, unobtrusive camera movements and there's an overall sense of a highly charged live performance. The recording levels, though generally excellent, occasionally offer a muffled phrase or two. There are subtitles in English, German, French and Spanish but no other special features. --Warwick Thompson

  • La Boheme - Puccini La Boheme - Puccini | DVD | (06/12/2004) from £21.03  |  Saving you £3.96 (15.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    La Boheme - Recorded live at the Teatro degli Arcimboldi Milan February 2003 - Staged by the Teatro all Scala.

  • Adams: El Nino [2000] Adams: El Nino | DVD | (15/10/2001) from £19.39  |  Saving you £3.74 (15.00%)  |  RRP £24.99

    John Adams set out to write an oratorio about the Nativity of Christ; but as he worked on it, El Nino became a more dramatic piece than he intended, flowering into a staged opera in which the oratorio's free-flowing singer's identity becomes an effective statement of a mystical point. Dawn Upshaw and Lorraine Hunt Lieberson--singing a mixture of biblical texts and Spanish/Mexican poetry--are both Mary and at the same time all women. The same is true of the dancer Daniela Graca, the women of the chorus and the young Hispanic-American woman who has her child and argues with her boyfriend in contemporary LA. Willard White is both Joseph and Herod, while the trio of counter-tenors are Angels and Shepherds and Kings. Because the work was written in close consultation with director Peter Sellars, it is a remarkably collaborative vision of music and staging. This is a gloriously sung piece, which continues Adams' voyage through minimalism into a lush tonal style still informed by minimalist simplicity, but it is also an impressive piece of theatre in which every physical gesture has a musical cue. This production from the Chatelet Theatre, Paris, under the baton of Kent Nagano, is more or less definitive. On the DVD: Unusually for an Arthaus Musik release, this DVD comes with an extended documentary in which Adams, Sellars, Nagano and Upshaw talk insightfully about the creation and nature of the piece. Sellars is particularly impressive in his talk of opera as the art form for a multicultural era. The picture format is 16:9 and the viewer is offered a choice of PCM stereo or Dolby Digital for the audio.--Roz Kaveney

  • Mozart - Le Nozze Di Figaro Mozart - Le Nozze Di Figaro | DVD | (14/03/2008) from £14.30  |  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.

  • La Traviata - Verdi [2005] La Traviata - Verdi | DVD | (03/01/2006) from £18.87  |  Saving you £3.74 (15.00%)  |  RRP £24.99

    A performance of Verdi's opera performed live from the Zurich Opera House in 2005.

  • Verdi: Otello -- Royal Opera House/Solti [1992] Verdi: Otello -- Royal Opera House/Solti | DVD | (29/10/2001) from £23.99  |  Saving you £11.00 (31.40%)  |  RRP £34.99

    A coproduction by BBC Covent Garden Pioneer and the Royal Opera House of Verdi's classic opera about the Moor who loved not wisely but too well. Conducted by George Solti.

  • 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 £25.35  |  Saving you £4.64 (15.50%)  |  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.

  • Karl Bohm - In Rehearsal and Performance (Strauss Don Juan) [1970] Karl Bohm - In Rehearsal and Performance (Strauss Don Juan) | DVD | (28/04/2008) from £6.43  |  Saving you £3.80 (15.20%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Karl Bohm In Rehearsal & Performance

  • 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.

  • Rossini: Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) -- Stuttgart [1988] Rossini: Il Barbiere di Siviglia (The Barber of Seville) -- Stuttgart | DVD | (06/03/2001) from £5.99  |  Saving you £4.94 (19.80%)  |  RRP £24.99

    The point of a good production of Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia is to have a Rosina and a Figaro who will knock your socks off in their respective arias, while holding back enough in all those crescendo ensembles in which the farce plot reaches its several culminations that the other stars get a chance to shine too. Cecilia Bartoli and Gino Quilico give full-blooded enough performances when on stage by themselves that self-effacement seems far from imminent, yet both are capable of less, and give it when it is needed. Of the others, David Kuebler is an attractively raffish Almaviva, while Robert Lloyd turns Basilio into a memorable cameo. Gabriele Ferro is one of the most intelligent of Rossini conductors--he understands the relationship between the pulse of the music and its dramatic function, and he is also outstanding in the delicacy of phrasing, even in climaxes, that ensures that every voice, every instrument, gets the moment of glory Rossini intended. Michael Hampe's solid reliable unfussy production keeps everything moving without drawing attention to itself. The DVD has subtitles in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, as well as trailers for other Arthaus Musik discs. --Roz Kaveney

  • Orphee Aux Enfers - Offenbach [1997] Orphee Aux Enfers - Offenbach | DVD | (15/04/2002) from £21.25  |  Saving you £3.74 (15.00%)  |  RRP £24.99

    Orphée aux Enfers, Offenbach's riotous parody of the dissipations of French life in the Second Empire, fairly gallops past in this 1997 Herbert Wernicke production staged at the Theatre de la Monnaie in Brussels. Based on Offenbach's meatier second version (1874) of the Orpheus legend, it features nicely judged performances across the board and some stunning special effects, notably the explosive locomotive crash signalling the breach of the divide between Heaven and Hell. Satire reigns, not least in the reactionary figure of Public Opinion, a pinny-clad bossy boots with a hint of Dame Edna Everage about her. Olympus is a moribund salon full of bored Gods, sick of the Ambrosian diet. The casting is excellent, with Jacqueline van Quaille's chain-smoking dowager Juno heading the field. Alexandru Badea’s Orpheus subverts the legend in his purely pragmatic pursuit of Eurydice (the thrush-voiced soprano Elizabeth Vidal) that has nothing to do with love. Dale Duesing's Jupiter is louche and sexy, particularly in the very funny fly scene in the second act. From first to last, Wernicke's production offers something to catch the eye and ear, culminating in the well-loved, frantic can-can finale. Overall this is not only well-sung but very entertaining. On the DVD: Orphée aux Enfers gets the standard stage-to-video treatment. The picture quality (16:9) is OK but often dark so you strain to catch some of the production's design subtleties. Excellent sound (PCM stereo) brings Offenbach's vibrant score to the forefront, well matched by the strong performances of the principal singers.--Piers Ford

  • Il Trovatore - Verdi [1978] Il Trovatore - Verdi | DVD | (24/09/2004) from £24.39  |  Saving you £5.60 (18.70%)  |  RRP £29.99

    Recording of the Verdi opera from the Wiener Staatsoper in 1978 with Herbert von Karajan conducting.

  • 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.

  • Gotterdammerung [2002] Gotterdammerung | DVD | (31/05/2004) from £8.84  |  Saving you £7.40 (24.70%)  |  RRP £29.99

    Wagner's opera directed for the stage by Peter Konwitschny recorded live at the Staatsoper Stuttgart 3 Oct 2002 and 12 Jan 2003.

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