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.
Of all Puccini's major operas, the intimate tragedy of Madama Butterfly is least in need of elaborate staging and might therefore benefit most from the close scrutiny of film. The story is domestic, the setting Spartan, the incidental characters kept to a minimum. This 1974 version, however, demonstrates that Butterfly still needs a healthy injection of proscenium arch melodrama. Director Jean-Pierre Ponelle's production strives for realism but remains unfortunately studio-bound, having neither the benefit of location filming nor the heightened reality of an opera stage. The exterior is a perpetually fog-shrouded heath of indeterminate locale; the interior is cramped and unadorned. The setting is just too prosaic to contain the epic emotions of grand opera. Thankfully, the cast is superb, headed by Placido Domingo's rakish Pinkerton and Mirella Freni's rubicund Butterfly. Their singing is incomparable, as is Herbert von Karajan's musical direction of the Vienna Phil. The singers mime to pre-recorded music, which is occasionally disconcerting since when film demands close-ups opera provides broad gestures. Musically, this Butterfly is impeccable. Visually it adds nothing that could not be seen to better effect in a stage version. On the DVD: Madama Butterfly is presented disappointingly on disc in a poor NTSC transfer full of distracting graininess that makes every scene, both inside and out, look like it takes place in an omnipresent drizzle. Sound is reasonable stereo and adequate 5.0 surround. There are subtitles in the major European languages as well as Chinese, and the booklet contains a background essay plus synopsis. --Mark Walker
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.
In the annuals of music history Joan Sutherland's name will always be inextricably linked with the tragic heroine of Donizetti's dark romantic opera. It was the role which catapulted her to international stardom in 1959 and remained the perfect showcase for her remarkable vocal agility and acting ability throughout her career.
The great Italian stage and screen director Franco Zeffirelli made these widely acclaimed films both starring Placido Domingo with Georges Pretre conducting the Orchestra and Chorus of La Scala. Pagliacci which co-stars the great singing actress Teresa Stratas brought Zeffirelli the coveted Emmy as Best Director in the category of Classical Music Programming. Cavalleria was filmed on location in Sicily which adds immeasurably to the power and atmosphere of this timeless story of love honour justice and violence.
Acclaimed film and stage director Franco Zeffirelli spared no costs to reproduce the opulent setting of Violetta Val''ry''s happiness and downfall. The unparalleled musical quality of the production is guaranteed by some of the world''s most famous musicians: The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra of New York conductor James Levine and singers Teresa Stratas and Placido Domingo. As Violetta soprano Teresa Stratas strikes the right balance between emotional grandeur and physical weakness. And with his meltingly lyrical voice and magnetic stage presence Placido Domingo embodies Alfredo Germont with a rarely seen passion.
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.
Mozart's immortal adaptation of Beaumarchais' satirical tale has always been a Glyndebourne staple, so it was appropriate that this delightfully traditional production of Le Nozze di Figaro was chosen to reopen a refurbished Gyndebourne in May, 1994. Here, John Gunter's set design is airy and uncluttered, leaving the actors plenty of breathing space, while director Stephen Medcalf likewise allows the characters to speak (and sing) for themselves. Gerald Finley's Figaro and Alison Hagley's Susanna make a charming central pairing; Renee Fleming and Andreas Schmidt are a formidable aristocratic duo, while Marie-Ange Todorovitch fills Cherubino's trousers with pleasing playfulness. Haitink and the London Philharmonic sparkle, as of course they should. Unfussily filmed, this is as close to the real thing as you are likely to get without a Glyndebourne season ticket.On the DVD: This is a double-sided disc requiring a changeover between Acts 2 and 3. With a running-time of 189 minutes, the disc is no longer than some epic Hollywood movies, so such flipping is hard to justify. But at least opera lends itself to natural breaks like this. The sound options are Dolby stereo or 5.1 and the picture is in 4:3 ratio. Subtitles are provided in English, French or German and the booklet contains a plot synopsis. --Mark Walker
Angela Gheorghiu's stunning debut as Violetta from the Royal Opera House Covent Garden it was this performance that turned the Romanian soprano into an international sensation. The occasion also marked Sir George Solti's first performances of Verdi's ever-popular tragedy. World-class performances by opera's finest - Frank Lopardo (Alfredo) Leo Nucci (Germont) Leah-Marian Jones (Flora) and Gillian Knight (Annina). With Richard Eyre's dramatic staging Bob Crowley's elegant strik
Verdi - Nabucco (Junge PO)
The Opera Don Giovanni drama in two acts.
This magnificent production of Verdi's biblical epic Nabucco marked the return of Riccardo Muti as Musical Director of La Scala Milan Italy's greatest opera house. Nabucco was Verdi's first real success. This vast opera has great scenes for the chorus most famously in 'Va pensiero' the hymn of longing sung by the Hebrew slaves on the banks of the Euphrates. This DVD is a marvellous opportunity to hear La Scala's famous Chrous on top form.
Ingmar Bergman puts his indelible stamp on Mozart's exquisite opera in this sublime rendering of one of the composer's best-loved works: a celebration of love, forgiveness, and the brotherhood of man. The Magic Flute (TrollflÃ¶jten) stars Josef KÃ¶stlinger as Tamino, the young man determined to rescue a beautiful princess from the clutches of parental evil. Available for the first time on Blu-ray the BFI are proud to present this film from one of the world's most acclaimed directors. Features: Presented in High Definition and Standard Definition Fully illustrated booklet with new writing on the film and full film credits
1. It's Fred Dibnah 2. Fred Dibnah Getting Steamed Up 3. 30th Anniversary of the Dorset Steam Fair 4. A Festival of Tractors 5. Appleby 2000 6. Beautiful World of Mechanical Music 7. Continental Organs Volume 1 8. Dorset 95 (Steam Fair) 9. Dutch Steam Fair 10. Great Yorkshire Show 11. Steam in the Midlands 12. Modern Farming 13. Musical Boxes Aroma & Interesting Things 14. National Museum of Organs 15. Steam Heavy Haulage 16. Steam in the North 17. Tractors Down Under 18. Vintage Cars Bikes Commercial Rollers 19. Working with Tractors 20. World of Mechanical Music & Organs
Daniela Dessi and Delores Ziegler lead the cast in Mozart's brilliant and witty opera as the two women whose faithfulness in the face of romantic love is ruthlessly tested in Da Ponte's comic tale. Mozart lavishes some of the finest music ever written on the unfolding story of the two sisters' chaotic and fickle love affairs with their two Italian army officers. Unlocked from the archives of RAI television this 1989 recording is a classic from one of the world's great opera houses.
This luxuriously cast film of Mozart's beloved opera buffa features a host of legendary interpretations including Kiri Te Kanawa's exquisite Countess Almaviva Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as her philandering husband Hermann Prey as the wily title character Mirella Freni a delight as his no less savvy bride Susanna and Maria Ewing hilarious as the lovesick page Cherubino. Director Jean-Pierre Ponnelle's imaginative camera-work tellingly emphasizes character and mood of this immortal story of love intrigue and class struggle set against the historical background of ancien regime Europe sliding inexorably towards revolution.
A performance of Glinka's opera 'Ruslan And Lyudmila'.
Recorded live at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden London on 10th 13th and 17th February 2006.
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
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