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  • Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen -- Metropolitan/Levine Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen -- Metropolitan/Levine | DVD | (14/10/2002) from £45.99  |  Saving you £0.00 (0.00%)  |  RRP £45.99

    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

  • Rosenkavalier - Strauss [1979] Rosenkavalier - Strauss | DVD | (15/08/2005) from £14.99  |  Saving you £0.00 (0.00%)  |  RRP £14.99

    Comedy for music in three acts.

  • Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg [1993] Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg | DVD | (24/11/2000) from £15.99  |  Saving you £5.60 (18.70%)  |  RRP £29.99

    This glorious 1995 production of Wagner's festival opera highlights the central debate about the artist, his inspiration and the academic rules that have to be worked with, or around, by setting it not in the Middle Ages so much as in a high-Victorian world of frock coats and cravats. Wolfgang Brendel's impressive performance as Hans Sachs has both the authority of the great poet trying to make everyone understand the virtues of good sense and a middle way, as well as the emotional appeal of a man whose decision to make Eva's choice between him and Walther is for once a real struggle: Brendel plays him as a man young enough to be a credible rival to the young minstrel-knight. Gosta Windbergh in turn brings real passion not only to the "Prize Song" itself but to the whole opera, not least to the aristocratic/bohemian distrust of the bourgeois world of the master singer for which Sachs ends up rebuking him. Schulte's performance as Beckmesser conveys the meanness and pettiness without buying wholly into the viciousness with which Wagner humiliates his comic villain and through him all of his own enemies. Conductor de Burgos manages to keep the massive scale of this longest of comic operas human and humane--this never becomes a sinisterly intense or vast performance. --Roz KaveneyOn the DVD: This two-disc set comes equipped with scene selection and subtitles in German, French and English, as well as menus in those languages and Spanish. --Roz Kaveney

  • Die Zauberflote - Mozart Die Zauberflote - Mozart | DVD | (29/08/2005) from £26.21  |  Saving you £3.78 (12.60%)  |  RRP £29.99

    Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's expert direction of this Mozart masterpiece from the 1982 Salzburg Festival provides a feast of colour drama and wit featuring the supreme talents of Edita Gruberova Ileana Cotrubas and Peter Schreier with James Levine at the podium.This production of Mozart's Magic Flute from the Salzburg Festival received enormous and unanimous approval when it was premiered in Salzburg on July 29 1978. Endless applause on the night and an unusual state of accord from the international press quickly gave this staging legendary status with each soloist receiving individual acclaim.Recorded live at the Felsenreitschule Salzberg 21 August 1982.

  • Les Contes D'Hoffmann [2002] Les Contes D'Hoffmann | DVD | (31/05/2004) from £14.99  |  Saving you £5.84 (19.50%)  |  RRP £29.99

    Hoffmann a poet and composer is in love with the prima donna Stella. As the opera begins she is appearing in her most famous role: Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni. Hoffmann's Muse declares that she will win back the artist and protect him from any further amorous obsessions. In order to do so she will assume the identity of Hoffmann's friend Nicklausse.Councillor Lindorf also desires the diva Stella and he bribes her servant Andres into giving him a letter addressed to Hoffmann which contains the key to her dressing room. As the curtain falls on Act I of Don Giovanni Luther and his waiters hurriedly prepare for the arrival of Hoffmann and his friends.Hoffmann is in an agitated state of mind but is soon persuaded to sing the ballad of Kleinzack. While doing so he is distracted and recalls his first love. His friends bring him back to reality and he finishes the song. Suddenly Hoffmann sees Lindorf and a heated argument develops between them. Hoffmann reveals that Lindorf has always brought him bad luck. When three of the poet's friends boast about their mistresses Hoffmann declares that Stella embodies three types of woman: the young girl the artist and the courtesan. Hoffman asks his friends if they would like to hear about three of his past loves. Despite Luther's warning that the curtain is about to rise on Act II of Don Giovanni the crowd fill their glasses and prepare to listen to Hoffmann's tales.

  • Moise Et Pharaon - Rossini [2003] Moise Et Pharaon - Rossini | DVD | (31/10/2005) from £26.21  |  Saving you £3.78 (12.60%)  |  RRP £29.99

    The Rossini opera performed at the La Scala in Milan which tells the story of Moses and Egypt. Riccardi Muti conducts.

  • Stravinsky - The Rake's Progress [2007] Stravinsky - The Rake's Progress | DVD | (31/12/2007) from £5.49  |  Saving you £24.50 (81.70%)  |  RRP £29.99

    Stravinsky's masterwork The Rake's Progress, created for La Fenice in Venice in 1951, is based on a libretto by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman, inspired by a series of 18th-century prints by William Hogarth. This amazing production from La Monnaie - De Munt 'jazzifies' the setting by replacing Hogarth's sin city, London, with 1950s Las Vegas, turning it into a glittering, cinematic gallery of tableaux vivants inspired by the early days of television. Staged by one of the most visionary theatre directors of our age, the Quebecois Robert Lepage, the neo-classical morality tale truly becomes a grand spectacle. Lepage's visual imagination works its magic superbly, while Kazushi Ono's energetic musical direction drives the sparkling ensemble to exhilarating heights. Recorded in High Definition and true surround sound.

  • King Arthur - Purcell King Arthur - Purcell | DVD | (29/08/2005) from £29.79  |  Saving you £5.20 (14.90%)  |  RRP £34.99

    A dramatic opera in five acts.A performance from the Salzburger Festspiele recorded live at the Felsenreitschule 24-28 July 2004.

  • Natural World Natural World | DVD | (25/06/2007) from £26.50  |  Saving you £-6.51 (-32.60%)  |  RRP £19.99

    Fromthe ice age and woolly mammoth to the oceans and rainforests Discovery looks at all that is incredible about our world

  • Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) -- Zurich/Harnoncourt Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) -- Zurich/Harnoncourt | DVD | (29/04/2002) from £20.91  |  Saving you £9.08 (30.30%)  |  RRP £29.99

    Conductor Nikolaus Harnoncourt's approach to Le Nozze di Figaro is certainly historically informed, but both his musical direction and this Zurich Opera production as a whole lack a certain lightness of touch. In such a deliciously comic work it should be permissible to have fun. Harnoncourt's tempos seem rather too conservative; while the low stage lighting keeps the revolving sets shaded in half-shadow for much of the time. The result is a tad claustrophobic, both musically and visually. There are many compensations, however. Though Harnoncourt may be a little over-cautious, what's lost in joie de vivre is gained in clarity and nuance. Similarly, the singers have plenty of space to enunciate and cherish every rolling phrase. Although Carlos Chausson makes an appealing everyman character as Figaro, he and everyone else must perform (sometimes literally) in Rodney Gilfry's domineering shadow. Gilfry's Alamaviva is a swaggering counterpart to his Don Giovanni, with the same almost overwhelming sexual presence and charisma; no wonder, then, that Eva Mei's Countess is so jealous, or that Isabel Rey's Susanna seems genuinely attracted despite her better judgment. The ensemble cast are uniformly delightful and, unusually, are all good actors: when the Count and Countess squabble, Gilfry and Mei really work themselves into a fine passion. The set and costuming are both of indeterminate period: the Count carries a shotgun to shoot Liliana Nikiteanu's errant Cherubino, and there are deckchairs in the garden, but the ladies' costumes are cut to reveal authentically 18th-century heaving bosoms. In all, this is a Figaro distinguished by a strong cast and fine singing, but hampered a little by the staging. An airier alternative is the more traditional Glyndebourne production. On the DVD: Le Nozze di Figaro from Zurich is presented in three vivid sound options: LPCM Stereo, Dolby 5.1 or DTS 5.1. Picture is 16:9. The subtitling is occasionally unnecessarily repetitive (Figaro's "Piano, piano, piano" takes up a big chunk of the screen as: "Not so fast, not so fast, not so fast" and so on) and inadequately proofread ("Forgeive me...Falsce one" [sic&#93 ;). --Mark Walker

  • Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg - Wagner Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg - Wagner | DVD | (17/01/2005) from £14.99  |  Saving you £7.00 (31.80%)  |  RRP £21.99

    A performance of Wagner's opera 'Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg'.

  • Prince Igor [1998] Prince Igor | DVD | (06/10/2003) from £18.65  |  Saving you £-3.66 (-24.40%)  |  RRP £14.99

    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

  • Wagner: Die Walkure -- Metropolitan/Levine Wagner: Die Walkure -- Metropolitan/Levine | DVD | (14/10/2002) from £18.73  |  Saving you £3.26 (14.80%)  |  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

  • Monteverdi - Pierre Audi's Monteverdi Cycle Box Set Monteverdi - Pierre Audi's Monteverdi Cycle Box Set | DVD | (29/01/2007) from £22.95  |  Saving you £47.04 (67.20%)  |  RRP £69.99

    Opus Arte is proud to present Pierre Audi's profound and refined productions of Monteverdi's opera masterpieces from the Amsterdam Muziektheater as a complete 9.5 hours box set, which explores the depths of human emotions in compelling music drama. The brilliant cast of the beautifully styled, evocative L'Orfeo, under the sophisticated musical direction of Stephen Stubbs, includes John Mark Ainsley, Michael Chance and David Cordier. II ritorno d' Ulisse in patria features Anthony Rolfe Johnson and Graciela in patria features Anthony Rolfe Johnson and Graciela Araya, both commanding and very moving under Glen Wilson's transparent and inspired musical direction. In L'incoroazione di Poppea Christophe Roussel and the musicians of his Les Talens Lyriques lead an all-star cast, including Brigitte Balleys, Cynthia Haymon, Claron McFadden and Dominique Visse, together reaching great heights in a highly evocative production. As a bonus disc, this box set includes the previously unreleased II combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, starring Lorna Anderson and Maarten Koningsberger, with the ASKO Ensemble boldly led by David Porcelijn.Never before have these timeless Monteverdi masterworks been presented with such consistent and inspired vision, and the results is an astonishing theatrical experience. An essential for any serious opera collector's library!

  • La Cenerentola [2005] La Cenerentola | DVD | (30/01/2006) from £22.59  |  Saving you £7.40 (24.70%)  |  RRP £29.99

    Vladimir Jurowski and Sir Peter Hall are re-united for a fresh and vibrant but timelessly elegant production of Rossinin's much-loved setting of the Cinderella story with a fine cast led by Ruxandra Donose in the title role. Filmed in June 2005 with high definition cameras and recorded in multi-track 5.1 surround sound

  • Giulio Cesare - Handel [2004] Giulio Cesare - Handel | DVD | (03/01/2006) from £24.39  |  Saving you £5.60 (18.70%)  |  RRP £29.99

    Recorded live at the Gran Teatre del Liceu Barcelona July 2004.Giulio Cesare is regarded by many as Handel's greatest and most exquisite work.This new adaptation comes from director Herbert Wernicke who includes in his version fragments of Rinaldo Orlando and Tolomeo. Wernicke concentrates on the psychology and politics of the story rather than seeking to set the opera in a contemporary context.In Handel's Giulio Cesare a far cry from the dark story of p

  • Wagner - Tannhauser Wagner - Tannhauser | DVD | (29/09/2006) from £18.89  |  Saving you £16.10 (46.00%)  |  RRP £34.99

    Wagner:Tannhauser (2 Discs)

  • Verdi - Macbeth Verdi - Macbeth | DVD | (22/10/2007) from £14.99  |  Saving you £7.00 (31.80%)  |  RRP £21.99

    Verdi Macbeth

  • La Grande-Duchesse De Gerolstein - Offenbach La Grande-Duchesse De Gerolstein - Offenbach | DVD | (09/01/2006) from £10.98  |  Saving you £5.01 (31.30%)  |  RRP £15.99

    Recorded at the Theatre Du Chatelet in Paris.

  • Mozart - Le Nozze Di Figaro Mozart - Le Nozze Di Figaro | DVD | (14/03/2008) from £22.59  |  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.

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