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  • Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier -- Vienna/Kleiber Strauss: Der Rosenkavalier -- Vienna/Kleiber | DVD | (03/09/2004) from £15.38  |  Saving you £4.60 (23.00%)  |  RRP £19.99

    The epic grandeur of Der Rosenkavalier stems not just from its immense length (over three hours) but from the all-too-human complexity of its characters--each of whom is smitten with someone else--and the endless stream of graceful melodies the composer conjures. After the tonality-stretching dissonance of Salome and especially Elektra, Strauss moved onto a different musical path here: the music's sheer gorgeousness has given this most heartbreaking of 20th-century operas its pride of place in the repertory. For this 1994 performance at the Vienna Opera House, conductor Carlos Kleiber leads a committed reading of the buoyant score that savours every note. The three leads are superb singer-actresses who get full marks for embodying Strauss's most richly romantic creations: Felicity Lott (the Marschallin), Anne Sophie von Otter (Octavian) and Barbara Bonney (Sophie) also offer a truly entrancing final trio, one of the great scenes in all opera. The stereo sound mix is solid, as is the video transfer. --Kevin Filipski, Amazon.com

  • Mozart: Don Giovanni -- Zurich/Harnoncourt Mozart: Don Giovanni -- Zurich/Harnoncourt | DVD | (12/03/2002) from £N/A  |  Saving you £N/A (N/A%)  |  RRP £29.99

    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

  • La Grande-Duchesse De Gerolstein - Offenbach La Grande-Duchesse De Gerolstein - Offenbach | DVD | (09/01/2006) from £8.85  |  Saving you £7.14 (44.70%)  |  RRP £15.99

    Recorded at the Theatre Du Chatelet in Paris.

  • Busoni - Doktor Faust Busoni - Doktor Faust | DVD | (29/10/2007) from £25.05  |  Saving you £6.63 (18.90%)  |  RRP £34.99

    Ferruccio Busoni - Doktor Faust - Live Recording From The Zurich Opera House 2006.

  • Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg - Wagner Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg - Wagner | DVD | (17/01/2005) from £11.15  |  Saving you £8.84 (44.20%)  |  RRP £19.99

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

  • La Scala Collection La Scala Collection | DVD | (02/05/2006) from £46.59  |  Saving you £13.40 (22.30%)  |  RRP £59.99

    Various Composers: La Scala Collection - 11 Operas

  • Mozart: Cosi fan tutte [2000] Mozart: Cosi fan tutte | DVD | (30/06/2001) from £N/A  |  Saving you £N/A (N/A%)  |  RRP £29.99

    Mozart's third and final opera with librettist Lorenzo da Ponte, the hugely ambitious dramatic comedy Così fan Tutte (roughly translated as: "They're All Like That"), is brought passionately to life in a first-class production conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt and featuring one of the great starring roles for Cecilia Bartoli. Filmed live at the Zurich Opera House in February 2000 on a set which visualises the subtitle "The School for Lovers", the plot revolves around two army officers arguing about the fidelity of their brides, then setting out to test their chastity. Despite the often playful humour, this is not only psychologically telling music-making, but reveals Mozart exploring the structure of opera, discarding convention to mix large ensemble sections with arias for as many different combinations of singers as possible. With Liliana Nikiteanu attractively contrasted with Bartoli, and thoroughly convincing performances by Roberto Sacca (Ferrando) and Oliver Widmer (Guilelmo), this Così has a freshness and flow which, coupled with the timeless romantic themes, feels very contemporary. On the DVD: the presentation, which includes an interesting 22-minute behind-the-scenes documentary, is spread over two DVDs. There is a multi-language booklet minus libretto, though there is the option to watch with English subtitles. Given the difficult live stage lighting conditions the 16:9 anamorphically enhanced picture is as good as can be expected. There are both stereo and Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks, though the latter gives the voices a disconcertingly disembodied character, leaving the former to be preferred. The total running time is approximately 213 minutes, not 275 minutes stated on the packaging. --Gary S Dalkin

  • Mozart - Le Nozze Di Figaro Mozart - Le Nozze Di Figaro | DVD | (03/03/2008) from £20.91  |  Saving you £9.08 (30.30%)  |  RRP £29.99

    Recorded live at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden London on 10th 13th and 17th February 2006.

  • War And Peace - Prokofiev [1991] War And Peace - Prokofiev | DVD | (01/04/2004) from £21.69  |  Saving you £8.30 (27.70%)  |  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.

  • Wagner: Gotterdammerung -- Metropolitan/Levine Wagner: Gotterdammerung -- Metropolitan/Levine | DVD | (14/10/2002) from £18.49  |  Saving you £6.50 (26.00%)  |  RRP £24.99

    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

  • Landi - Sant' Alessio Landi - Sant' Alessio | DVD | (19/05/2008) from £8.85  |  Saving you £5.14 (36.70%)  |  RRP £13.99

    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.

  • England Cricket's Greatest Matches England Cricket's Greatest Matches | DVD | (17/03/2008) from £N/A  |  Saving you £N/A (N/A%)  |  RRP £14.99

    The ultimate collection of England's most memorable test perfomances from over 35 years of cricket

  • Parsifal - Wagner/Stein Parsifal - Wagner/Stein | DVD | (16/07/2007) from £14.34  |  Saving you £5.65 (28.30%)  |  RRP £19.99

    Wolfgang Wagner's arrestingly beautiful production filmed live at Bayreuth in 1981 and directed by Brian Large features a stellar cast led by Eva Randova Bernd Weikl and Siegfried Jerusalem.

  • Wagner: Die Walkure -- Metropolitan/Levine Wagner: Die Walkure -- Metropolitan/Levine | DVD | (14/10/2002) from £22.07  |  Saving you £0.00 (0.00%)  |  RRP £24.99

    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

  • 10 Pack: Art with the Experts [2007] 10 Pack: Art with the Experts | DVD | (17/10/2007) from £11.50  |  Saving you £N/A (N/A%)  |  RRP £9.99

  • The Ultimate Opera Collection The Ultimate Opera Collection | DVD | (14/05/2007) from £7.98  |  Saving you £5.01 (38.60%)  |  RRP £12.99

    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.

  • Natural World Natural World | DVD | (25/06/2007) from £200.10  |  Saving you £-180.11 (-901.00%)  |  RRP £19.99

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

  • Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg [1993] Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg | DVD | (24/11/2000) from £14.48  |  Saving you £N/A (N/A%)  |  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

  • Reves D'Un Marco Polo - Vivier [1980] Reves D'Un Marco Polo - Vivier | DVD | (03/01/2006) from £3.99  |  Saving you £16.43 (54.80%)  |  RRP £29.99

    A performance of the Vivier opera in two acts that tells a mystical story which centres on the character called Agni. Reinbert De Leeuw conducts.

  • 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 £N/A  |  Saving you £N/A (N/A%)  |  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

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