A star-studded production from New York's Metropolitan Opera with Aprile Millo and Placido Domingo in the lead roles supported by the Metropolitan Opera Chorus and the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; conducted by James Levine. Please note: This is a NTSC disc please ensure the compatibility of your TV.
A performance of Verdi's opera 'Il Trovatore' by the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus; conducted by James Levine. Singers include: Eva Marton Luciano Pavarotti Sherril Milnes and Dolora Zajick; directed by Brian Large.
This full-blooded 1982 performance of Puccini's most-loved opera demonstrates just how much drive and powerful emotion can make up for a certain lack of subtlety. Cotrubas' Mimi is entirely moving in both joy and death, while never quite feeling as thoroughly frail as some of her quieter rivals; stronger tenor voices than Neil Shicoff's have recorded the role, and yet he has a Romantic passion and a dignity that many of his rivals fail to bring to the role. That under-rated singer Gwynne Howell is especially moving in Colline's farewell to his cloak--one of those perfect little showcase sections Puccini sometimes gives to minor parts. Marilyn Zschau's Musetta is broad and comic and yet somehow includes the audience in the glorious joke that her sexuality is for her; when Thomas Allen sings, to her waltz theme, of youth that is not yet dead, his ardour transcends realism. Gardelli knew this score in his bones--the production bounces along from comedy to tears to eroticism to tragedy and neither cast nor orchestra miss a single one of Puccini's wonderful touches of emotional exploitation. --Roz Kaveney
A performance of Mozart's 'The Magic Flute' by puppet theatre.
Verdi La TraviataHere is the opera event of 2005, the Salzburg Festival's La Traviata featring Anna Netrebko, Rolando Villazon, and Thomas Hampson In a dramatic staging by Willy Decker - this is the trilling production that prompted riotous ovations not seen since Karajan's heyday.This standard-version DVD is also available as a premium-edition 2 DVDset with additional behind-the-scenes material.
Recorded live in Rome in July 1990 at a special gala performance. The tracklist includes works from Tosca Turandot and L'Africaine before all three tenors sing a specially arranged music medley.
This spectacular 1981 San Francisco production of Aida, directed by Sam Wanamaker, boasts production values more commonly associated with Hollywood to portray scenes from the time of the Pharaohs, notably a striking interior for the temple of Vulcan from where Radames is sent forth on his mission to conquer the invading Ethiopian army. With Margaret Price in the title role and Luciano Pavarotti as Radames, there is much going for this version, both musically and visually. Price and Pavarotti are in superb voice throughout. Pavarotti sings his initial aria, "Celeste Aida", very much as a showpiece, ignoring Verdi's quadruple pianissimo ending for the very opposite, milking (dare one say it) the audience for a thunderous round of applause which he duly receives! Initial doubts about his commitment to the drama, however, are dispelled in Act 3 when he denies Amneris his hand and bids farewell to life entombed in the same temple from where he'd once been sent forth as conqueror. Margaret Price may not be a natural actress but her singing throughout, particularly in the concluding farewell with Pavarotti ("O terra, addio"), is very touching. Stefania Toczyska is a compelling Amneris and no more so than when she's offering Radames a lifeline at the start of the last act. With assured conducting from Garcia Navarro, this Aida is a very desirable acquisition. On the DVD Aida on disc has both subtitles and surtitles, depending on the picture image, in the main European languages. Brian Large's direction for video homes in on the salient points of the drama and also picks up on an uncomfortable looking extra or two in the "Grand March" where space on stage seems at a premium. The picture quality and sound are satisfactory.--Adrian Edwards
George Bizet's opera 'Carmen' performed by the Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orchestra. Conducted by James Levine.
Taped during the first-ever performances of Idomeneo at the Metropolitan Opera in 1982 this production by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle features Frederica von Stade Hildegard Behrens Ileana Cotrubas and Luciano Pavarotti making a rare appearance in a Mozart role.
L'Elisir D'AmoreMelodramma In Two Acts.
Opera in Three ActsThe Second part of Patrice Chereau's epoch-making Bayreuth Ring is a radical re-imagining of Die Walkure unprecedented in its psychological penetration.
With her sensational role debut at the Vienna State Opera superstar diva Anna Netrebko displays a performance of rare vocal and dramatic power. The Russian soprano sings the role of the unjustly accused second wife of British King Henry VIII 'veering between indignant fury and tender righteousness' and demonstrating a new level of confidence in her technique with excellent 'passagework particularly in trills and seamless runs even to the lowest notes' (Opera News).
Wagner's passionate opera about a medieval minstrel torn between the temptations of sacred and profane love is seen here. A distinguished cast is headed by Richard Cassilly who was perhaps the leading exponent of Tannhauser at this time; Eva Marton is the radiant Elisabeth; Tatiana Troyanos a musically and dramatically stunning Venus.
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
Opera arias and duets from Mozart Rossini Haydn Donizetti and Handel.
This famous and highly-praised Royal Opera production by film director John Schlesinger filmed in 1981 is as good as we are ever likely to see. The spectacular designs by Maria Bjornson and William Dudley vividly bring Hoffman's nightmare world to life. The brilliant cast is led by Placido Domingo as Hoffmann in one of his towering portrayals. He has become wholly identified with this part in a way that no other artist has.
Strauss: Elektra (Levine Metropolitan Opera Orchestra)
Stage and directed by Richard Wagner's grandson Wolfgang at the Bayreuther Festspiele in 1984 this production of Wagner's only comedy dispenses with the common cliches to reveal the humanity of each character. Here Beckmesser is no longer a foolish caricature but a cultivated intellectual; Stolzing emerges as a thoughtful individual rather than aggressive aristocrat; and Hans Sachs sheds his solemn patriarchal veneer to become a likeable middle-aged man.
In Patrice Chereau's illuminating violent Bayreuth production of Das Rheingold Wotan wears the brocade coat of feudal times while the Rhine seems to be a reservoir with modern-day power station. Yet as Chereau says it could also be many other things ... perhaps a mythological presence the mythology of our time ... The gods' ascent to Valhalla (is) a defiant flight into the future.
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