A performance of the Mozart opera Don Giovanni.
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
Comedy for music in three acts.
The point of a good production of Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia is to have a Rosina and a Figaro who will knock your socks off in their respective arias, while holding back enough in all those crescendo ensembles in which the farce plot reaches its several culminations that the other stars get a chance to shine too. Cecilia Bartoli and Gino Quilico give full-blooded enough performances when on stage by themselves that self-effacement seems far from imminent, yet both are capable of less, and give it when it is needed. Of the others, David Kuebler is an attractively raffish Almaviva, while Robert Lloyd turns Basilio into a memorable cameo. Gabriele Ferro is one of the most intelligent of Rossini conductors--he understands the relationship between the pulse of the music and its dramatic function, and he is also outstanding in the delicacy of phrasing, even in climaxes, that ensures that every voice, every instrument, gets the moment of glory Rossini intended. Michael Hampe's solid reliable unfussy production keeps everything moving without drawing attention to itself. The DVD has subtitles in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish, as well as trailers for other Arthaus Musik discs. --Roz Kaveney
La Boheme - Recorded live at the Teatro degli Arcimboldi Milan February 2003 - Staged by the Teatro all Scala.
Recorded at the Theatre Du Chatelet in Paris.
Janacek's masterpiece Jenufa, captured in this 1989 Glyndebourne Festival Opera production, is among the most revived modernist works. Compared with much grand opera, the story of one woman's struggle to rise free from social constraints at a terrible cost is remarkably poignant, credible and accessible. Scenes are short and intense. The music shimmers with Janacek's characteristic blend of sweetness and sharp dissonance. His men are damaged and angry; his women kick against the expectations of convention. Tragedy is inevitable, but here, unusually, hope triumphs. In the title role, Roberta Alexander is utterly convincing as the stepdaughter of the Kostelnicka Buryja, placing her love and trust in the wrong man with dire consequences. As the Kostelnicka, Anja Silja turns in an equally towering performance, unravelling with the awful consequences of her pragmatism. Alexander's fluid soprano reveals the extraordinary beauty of some of Janacek's finest arias: the moment when she becomes supernaturally aware of her baby's fate--it's "as if death was peering into the house!"--and is actually singing prayers for its soul is quite overwhelming. This Jenufa is sung splendidly; a revelation of the essential humanity which lurks at the heart of the greatest operas. On the DVD: This production was filmed for Channel 4 and has all the hallmarks of a 1980s television broadcast: standard 4:3 picture format which limits the impact of Tobias Hoheisel's magnificent expressionistic set; PCM stereo which somewhat dulls Andrew Davis' sterling, powerful work at the helm of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (although the principal singers shine through); poor subtitles; and static freeze-frame links between scenes. As a record of an important production, though, it suffices. --Piers Ford
Peter Hall's lavishly staged L'Incoronazione di Poppea celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Glyndebourne in 1984 with a performance of Monteverdi's most celebrated and also most controversial opera. The score is conductor Raymond Leppard's "enhanced" edition, which he had premiered at Glyndebourne back in 1962, fully scored for a large orchestra. Much debate circles around the forces appropriate for performing Monteverdi's decidedly minimalist work, but one thing at least is certain: it didn't sound anything like this in the 17th century! Never mind, however inauthentic it may be, Leppard's big and beefy orchestral updating--including a fulsome continuo group with pairs of harpsichords, organs and cellos, as well as lute, guitar and harp--supports the weighty melodrama nicely. The singers, too, are full-bodied, led by a fruity Maria Ewing as Poppea (in various revealing outfits) sounding suitably seductive, and Dennis Bailey, oddly lovely of voice as Nero (one of the opera's controversial aspects is the heroic central role accorded to these two thoroughly wicked characters). Perhaps best of all is Robert Lloyd as Seneca, who not only boasts a profound, reverberant bass, but also looks the part under beard and toga. With an onstage chorus to lament him, Seneca's death scene is the most moving in the opera. Peter Hall's clever staging keeps the Olympians--Love, Fortune and Virtue--permanently watching from above as the venal humans below act out this tragedy of poisoned love. The no-frills DVD has subtitles in English, French, German and Spanish. --Mark Walker
This 2001 production of Aida was mounted in Busseto, near to Verdis birthplace to mark the opening of his centenary year (1813-1901). The cast of young singers, all at the start of their careers, were directed by veteran Franco Zeffirelli and coached by the great Italian tenor Carlo Bergonzi. Its a handsome production, in period, with striking sets and costumes, beautifully caught on camera, mounted in the relative intimacy of the theatre which bears the composers name. Aida is a difficult opera to stage. No other mainstream work combines the features of grand opera, parades and large crowd scenes with intimate exchanges between the main characters--the slave Aida, her father Amonasro, King of Ethiopia, Amneris, daughter of the King of Egypt and Radames, Captain of the Egyptian guards who loves Amneris and Aida. Here the home viewer can follow the machinations of the plot close up as well as witnessing the spectacle, though like most modern stagings there are no animals on parade (in fact this production makes a sizeable musical cut in this biggest of ensembles and elsewhere a short dance is omitted). The young cast show some inexperience in their acting, some gestures are overdone, others look a trifle wooden, but the singing is of a remarkably high standard led by the Aida of Adina Aaron who grows into her role, vocally speaking, and in moments of contemplation produces some very beautiful singing. Her Radames (Paolo Pecchioli) has the looks and physique for the part with lungs to match. Amneris (Kate Aldrich) also possesses winning looks, so its something of a shame that her costume hides these attributes. On the DVD: The "making of" feature focuses on Zeffirelli, speaking in Italian and English, exhorting his singers to explore their characters and motives to the extent that we hear not a word from other members of the production team, which in the case of Bergonzi is a great shame. The secure playing of the orchestra of the Arturo Toscanini foundation under the firm baton of Massimiliano Stefanelli comes up well in the Dolby Digital or DTS sound options, while the video direction makes the most of the setting. No one looking for a traditional staging of Aida will be disappointed with this two-disc set.--Adrian Edwards
This 1986 production of Madama Butterfly strives, with its Japanese director and designer, for authenticity in the Japanese setting, yet is somehow entirely Italian at the same time. Yasuko Hayashi's Cio-Cio-San is surprisingly tough, rejecting the arguments of her uncle and the marriage broker with more anger than usual, and her suicide is as much a moral statement of integrity as a sentimental gesture. Accordingly, Dvorsky's sexually magnetic Pinkerton is even less sympathetic--you can see what she sees in him, but he is arrogant and a user, except when he is being lyrical--and Zancanaro's Sharpless, the consul who expedites Pinkerton's betrayal of his wife but develops his own compassion for her, is all the more complex and interesting. The production has real charm as well as authenticity on its side; the staging of the love duet is impressive in its use of shadow and delicate light. Maazel's interpretation has a forceful energy that the recording impressively conveys. --Roz KaveneyOn the DVD: The DVD has scene selection, and subtitles in German, French and English; the menu adds Spanish.
It's hard to think of a couple better suited to play the romantic leads in Donizetti's comedy L'Elisir d'amore than husband-and-wife team Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu. Both are charming on stage, and both have voices to die for: Gheorghiu's dark liquid tones are particularly spine-tingling, and her coloratura abilities awe-inspiring, and though Alagna has mainly concentrated on the more spinto (powerful) roles of the tenor repertoire, in 1996 when this live production was recorded his voice was just a little fresher and lighter and thus perfect for the bel canto gracefulness of Donizetti's writing. His performance of "Una furtiva lagrima", for example, is meltingly sung and free from all temptation to overplay the high notes. Frank Dunlop's 1920s-set production doesn't quite produce the belly laughs some stagings manage (in Dulcamara's patter song, for example), but has a certain small-town wistful charm nonetheless. The orchestral accompaniment under Donizetti expert Evelino Pidò is spot on, and never falls into the banal "oom-pah" trap that such simple writing can often lead to. Overall, it's a production of great charm. On the DVD: L'Elisir d'amore comes to disc with a 52-minute film on the history of the opera and its recording, with contributions from Alagna and Gheorghiu, and subtitles in English, French, German, Spanish and Chinese. The Lyon opera house is particularly well set up for video recording, and Brian Large does a sophisticated job of capturing a live performance: it's hard to believe at some points that the cameras aren't actually on stage in the middle of the action. Just occasionally this leads to the singers not knowing where to look and seeming a trifle lost, but generally the performances work superbly well on the small screen. --Warwick Thomson
Wagner:Tannhauser (2 Discs)
An adaptation of John Adam's opera 'The Death Of Klinghoffer' which tells the story of the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship the Achile Lauro.
Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen is a real charmer of an opera, a tale that shows the natural world the composer had loved from childhood in its true colours: miraculous, beautiful, mysterious but also cruel. The inspiration came from a series of illustrated stories published in a Czech newspaper. The Vixen of the title is captured by a forester and taken home as a plaything for his children. She is soon thrown out of the house and has to make her own way in the world, encountering lust, stupidity, pride, love and ultimately death. This 1995 performance was taken from the Chatelet Theatre in Paris. Visually, Nicholas Hytner's production is a triumph, the animals wonderfully wittily wrought (the mosquito with its syringe for a nose, the mangey old dog, distasteful in baggy Y-fronts, the hideous, goggle-eyed frog). And it's also brilliantly cast: Eva Jenis's Vixen is funny, sexy, endearing and youthful enough in voice and figure to convince. Thomas Allen is a veteran of the role of the Forester, a huge presence and singing in impeccable Czech. In fact, there's not a weak performance here, and that goes for the dancers and instrumentalists as well as the singers. And at the helm, who better than Sir Charles Mackerras, arguably the greatest living interpreter of Janacek's music? This is in essence a grown-up fairy tale, ravishingly done and extremely highly recommended. On the DVD: The Cunning Little Vixen is presented on disc in vividly remastered PCM stereo, with 16:9 picture format that does full justice to the alluringly colourful designs. The disc is encoded for regions 2 and 5, and the menu and subtitle languages are English, German, French and Spanish. The useful booklet gives coherent background information and synopsis as well as full casting details. There's also a substantial (23-minute) trailer of other offerings from Arthaus Musik. --Harriet Smith
Verdi - Nabucco
This traditional production of Puccini's enduringly popular opera Madama Butterfly should give much pleasure. It was recorded at the open-air theatre in Verona in 1983 with the local orchestra and chorus under the aptly named Maurizio Arena. The video direction is by an expert in the field, Brian Large, who brings home all the intimate moments of Puccini's drama from an open set that ascends and sprawls across rows of seating. His camera draws the viewer into scenes that the audience cannot witness at their distance--most movingly when Sharpless, the American consul in Nagasaki, gives up his attempt to read Pinkerton's letter to Butterfly saying he has no intention of seeing her again (set to that magical melody which will recur as the humming chorus). It's of little matter that there are no operatic stars in the cast for this ensemble consists of experienced singers who fill the night air with lungs to match Puccini's heaviest demands. The audience, many of them evidently on holiday, greet the show-stopping moments with waves of applause. Their enthusiasm may drown a few bars of orchestral continuity but the orchestra itself is always at the service of the singers on a soundtrack that captures the atmosphere of an open-air performance with astonishing verisimilitude. Butterfly, sung by the statuesque Raina Kabaivanska, may not see Cio-Cio San (to give "butterfly" her real name) 16 years again and some of her arm movements are overdone but her big number "Un bel di" and its reprise when she's holding her child by Pinkerton are touchingly conveyed. Neither does she overplay the final scene where she prepares to follow her father's example using the Mikado's dagger to commit suicide--a moment that sends a shiver down the spine in its economy. Nazzareno Antinori as her Pinkerton, with his matinée idol looks and resonant voice, complements her well; their singing of Puccini's spacious love duet at the close of Act One goes down a treat with the crowd. --Adrian Edwards
This production is directed by Trevor Nunn and is based on his highly successful Glyndebourne staging in 1986/87 which was revived at Covent Garden in the autumn of 1992 with most of the original cast including Willard White and Cynthia Haymon. Immediately after that performance the production was moved to the giant stage at Shepperton Studios with much expanded sets and lighting. It was then recorded using the original award-winning EMI soundtrack. The romance and beauty of this tender story its dramatic development and the sheer vitality of the characters come alive in this exciting visual production.
Set in an English market town at the turn of 20th century a gangling greengrocer's lad is crowded May King. The break with the tradition of choosing a girl is virtuous enough to May Queen... The comic opera at Glyndebourne was conducted by Bernard Haitink. 'A Vintage production with a vintage cast.' - Sunday Times.
Please wait. Loading...