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Wagner: Gotterdammerung -- Metropolitan/Levine | DVD | (14/10/2002)
from £12.22 | Saving you £0.00 (0.00%) | RRP
Under the baton of James Levine, Gotterdammerung ("The Twilight of the Gods") has a narrative drive that reminds us that, of all the individual operas in Wagner's Ring cycle, this is the one most about human emotions and the one in which its heroes are pulled into a world where they are most vulnerable to them. Siegfried Jerusalem as Siegfried and Hildegard Behrens as Brunnhilde never, in a sense, stand a chance: they are innocents who allow themselves to be manipulated not merely by the villainous Hagen, but by the ordinary venality of Gunther and his sister Gutrune, who goes along with a dirty little scheme to get what she wants, and is destroyed by it. As the tempter figure Hagen, Matti Salminen dominates the stage whenever he is on it; he is one of those basses whose voice and scowl seem to come from somewhere deeper than his large boots: rarely have the summoning of the vassals, or the oath of vengeance he, Gunther and Brunnhilde swear against Siegfried seemed so utterly his triumph. Jerusalem is almost perfect as Siegfried in spite of the gravelly quality of his heroic tenor: he has a glorious innocence even when the character is tricked into desecrating his true love; Hildegard Behrens is magnificent as Brunnhilde, both in her anger at Siegfried's apparent betrayal of her and in her redemptive understanding of how she has to atone for his death. Other Gotterdammerungs may be more monumental, but few make you care so passionately. On the DVD: Gotterdammerung 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, and with a visual aspect of standard TV 4:3. More impressive is the choice of PCM stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS 5.1; the sound is admirably clear and well-balanced. --Roz Kaveney
Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg - Wagner | DVD | (17/01/2005)
from £12.22 | Saving you £7.40 (37.00%) | RRP
A performance of Wagner's opera 'Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg'.
Wagner: Die Walkure -- Metropolitan/Levine | DVD | (14/10/2002)
from £14.99 | Saving you £1.54 (9.30%) | RRP
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
A Midsummer Night's Dream - Britten | DVD | (09/01/2006)
from £11.69 | Saving you £4.30 (26.90%) | RRP
Britten's opera recorded live at the Teatro Del Liceu in April 2004.
Ruslan And Lyudmila | DVD | (12/05/2003)
from £12.22 | Saving you £3.94 (23.80%) | RRP
A performance of Glinka's opera 'Ruslan And Lyudmila'.
Wagner: Siegfried -- Metropolitan/Levine | DVD | (14/10/2002)
from £14.99 | Saving you £1.54 (9.30%) | RRP
James Levine makes Siegfried, sometimes the problem child among the four operas of Wagner's Ring cycle, attractive and interesting. He is aware of the darker side of some of the comic scenes--the seemingly benevolent dwarf Mime carries the weight of Wagner's many prejudices--but manages to keep them uneasy rather than positively sinister thanks to the finally judged performance of Heinz Zednik. Siegfried Jerusalem is admirable as Siegfried, full of boyish enthusiasm during the reforging of the sword, and of authority in his confrontations with the dragon and with Wotan. (The dragon itself is, as so often, an unfortunate compromise between realism and stylisation.) James Morris is extraordinary in Wotan's scenes here, his combination of injured pride and relieved joy when Siegfried demonstrates, by shattering his spear, that Wotan has entirely lost control of events is exemplary. This is an opera whose many and various scenes are all preludes to its emotional core: the love duet which comes when Siegfried awakens Brunnhilde. Jerusalem and Hildegard Behrens convey both the innocence and the ardor of this duet; while Levine gets extraordinary playing from the Metropolitan Opera orchestra throughout, but especially here, where a chamber-like delicacy applies to much of the music. On the DVD Siegfried on this disc is a recording of the 1990 Metropolitan Opera production and comes with both menus and subtitles in German, French, English, Spanish and Chinese as well as a picture gallery. Awkwardly it is presented in (American) NTSC format not PAL, and the visual ratio is standard TV 4:3. Better is the choice of sound formats--PCM Stereo, Dolby Digital and DTS digital--which provide a spacious acoustic that gives proper weight to the climaxes, and an appropriate delicacy to Wagner's subtler passages. --Roz Kaveney
Handel: Tamerlano | DVD | (04/04/2002)
from £24.49 | Saving you £5.50 (18.30%) | RRP
Handel's 1724 opera Tamerlano followed the success of his previous year's Giulio Cesare with another colourful historical costume drama. This time the setting is the court of "Timur the Tartar", who has just defeated the Turkish Sultan Bajazet at the battle of Angora. There are, naturally enough, romantic complications when both Tamerlano and his ally, the Greek Prince Andronico, fall in love with Bajazet's daughter Asteria. She, however, has plans to revenge her father's defeat. This production was directed by Jonathan Miller and staged in the intimate surroundings of the Goethe Theatre of Bad Lauchstadt as part of the 2001 Halle Handel Festival. Miller's sparse gold-draped sets, as well as the video direction, always lead the eye towards the singers and their splendidly decorative costumes. Mezzo Monica Bacelli looks a little too pretty beneath her moustache to be convincingly threatening as Tamerlano; soprano Elizabeth Norberg-Schulz is a full-blooded, perhaps overripe Asteria; and Thomas Randle tackles the very demanding tenor role of Bajazet. None of the voices are necessarily "authentic", but thanks to the musical direction of Trevor Pinnock--an experienced and sensitive Handelian--the performance always feels completely natural. In the pit Pinnock's English Concert are, as always, a delight. Anyone who has not yet discovered the sometimes arcane delights of Baroque opera will find much to encourage them here; seasoned opera seria buffs should not hesitate. On the DVD: Tamerlano comes handsomely packaged in a two-disc set with a colourful and informative booklet. The extra features put most other ArtHaus releases to shame. To begin with the "Score Plus" facility, which superimposes the score over the picture, will provide hours of joy (all DVD operas should have this as standard). There are subtitles in English, German, French or Spanish. There's a lengthy (40-minute) "Making of" documentary, which takes us behind the scenes with Jonathan Miller, Trevor Pinnock and their team at Sadler's Wells then in Halle. More material about the Handel Festival can be found in the "Interviews" section, the selection of "Historical Film Footage" from previous Festivals, and the illustrated "Interactive Chronolgy". The 16:9 picture is perfectly adequate, and the sound options are good PCM Stereo and Dolby 5.1. --Mark Walker
Les Paladins - Rameau | DVD | (31/10/2005)
from £22.39 | Saving you £7.60 (25.30%) | RRP
Inspired by a fable by La Fontaine Rameau produced perhaps his most brilliant music for his penultimate great work blending reality and surreal on several levels.This passionate new production by Jose Montalvo stunningly choreographed by Montalvo and Dominique Hervieu sets new standards in entertainment charm and ingenuity. The sharp and spectacular multimedia staging does full justice to Rameau's dazzling burlesque confirming Olivier Rouviere statement that 'Les Paladins is the last laugh of a witty 77-year old composer'. Recorded live in 2004 at the Paris Theatre du Chatelet in true surround sound both the virtuoso cast and Les Arts Florissants are in top form clearly enjoying themselves in the masterful hands of William Christie.
Don Giovanni - Mozart | DVD | (14/03/2005)
from £11.69 | Saving you £8.30 (41.50%) | RRP
The Opera Don Giovanni drama in two acts.
Landi - Sant' Alessio | DVD | (19/05/2008)
from £8.85 | Saving you £5.14 (36.70%) | RRP
First performed at the Palazzo Barberini in Rome in 1632 Landis Sant Alessio (Saint Alexius) is recognised as the earliest opera on an historical rather than mythological subject. Staged in Caen (where the DVD was filmed) and Paris in October 2007 the opera was subsequently presented in concert form in London and New York and is scheduled for the opera houses of Luxembourg and Nancy in early 2008.
Gotterdammerung - Wagner | DVD | (29/05/2006)
from £27.49 | Saving you £11.81 (30.10%) | RRP
Wagner: Gotterdammerung (Haenchen Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra Kruse)
The Ultimate Opera Collection | DVD | (14/05/2007)
from £8.09 | Saving you £4.10 (31.60%) | 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.
Mozart: Cosi Fan Tutte --Gardiner | DVD | (14/10/2002)
from £11.54 | Saving you £13.45 (53.80%) | RRP
A performance of Mozart's 'Cosi Fan Tutte' performed by the Monteverdi Choir and the English Baroque Soloists. Conducted by John Eliot Gardiner.
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 £22.39 | Saving you £6.67 (23.00%) | 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.
Les Troyens - Berlioz/The Met/James Levine | DVD | (16/07/2007)
from £12.09 | Saving you £4.60 (23.00%) | RRP
Filmed at the Metropolitan Opera in 1983 Berlioz's masterpiece Les Troyens is a tragic tale of love and fate based on Virgil's Aeneid. Under the baton of James Levine Jessye Norman is stunning in the part of Cassandra and Pl''cido Domingo makes for a strong compelling Aeneas. This benchmark performance was hailed by both critics and audiences and performed to greatest critical acclaim. Norman's role debut as Cassandra emerged as one her most significant and compelling performances and this DVD is also a stand-out release among Domingo's extensive filmography.
Richard Strauss - Der Rosenkavalier | DVD | (02/10/2006)
from £29.99 | Saving you £0.00 (0.00%) | RRP
Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier (Bychkov)
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
Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen -- Metropolitan/Levine | DVD | (14/10/2002)
from £31.30 | Saving you £11.16 (20.50%) | 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
Mozart - Le Nozze Di Figaro | DVD | (03/03/2008)
from £22.23 | Saving you £6.67 (23.00%) | RRP
Recorded live at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden London on 10th 13th and 17th February 2006.
La Scala Collection | DVD | (02/05/2006)
from £46.59 | Saving you £13.40 (22.30%) | RRP
Various Composers: La Scala Collection - 11 Operas