Giselle is the quintessential Romantic ballet. Its title role, one of the most technically demanding and emotionally challenging in the classical repertory, is here danced by Alina Cojocaru, partnered by Johan Kobborg as Count Albrecht. This tale of the transcendental power of love over death is evocatively portrayed through Peter Wright's sensitive staging and John Macfarlane's designs, which beautifully contrast the human and supernatural worlds.
The longing to overcome human boundaries lead the physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer to begin an experiment that formed a threat to the whole of humanity, and whose scientific results still do today. The question of the moral implications of the atomic bomb is raised in John Adams' opera, just as much as that of the influence on the private lives of the main characters. Dr. Atomic is the fifth work to result from almost twenty years of collaboration between the American composer and his fellow American director and Erasmus Prize-winner Peter Sellars.
Enjoy the world premiere of the full and original version of Merlin by Isaac Albeniz, over a century after he completed the work. Albeniz composed this 'Wagnerian' opera to an English libretto by his patron Francis Burdett Money-Coutts between 1898 and 1902. Many believed the score was lost, until the conductor Jose De Eusebio reconstructed it from various manuscript sources and publishers' proofs. For this stunning production director John Drew created a world of magic and fantasy, using evocative sets, and splendid lighting.
- Interviews with David Wilson-Johnson, Eva Marton and conductor Jose de Eusebio
Founder choreographer of The Royal Ballet, Frederick Ashton created more than 100 ballets over a 60 year career. Showcasing three of his shorter works, this video reflects the breadth of his sophisticated, elegant and widely popular style.
Les Patineurs evokes the Edwardian skating rink, with all its youthful charm and humour, in contrast to Scènes de Ballet where sharp geometric shapes and the music of Igor Stravinsky are combined to create perhaps Ashton's most modernist work. Divertissements , a collection of eight short dances, features some of Ashton's most lyrical choreography, including pas de deux set to Romantic masterpieces by Tchaikovsky and Massenet.
George Balanchine and the Paris Opera always enjoyed a special relationship after Jacques Rouche, the then administrator, offered the young choreographer the post of ballet master in 1929. Balanchine declined the job, but he created several ballets for the company and came to the Palais Garnier regularly to oversee his works. In 2000, seventeen years after his death, a rare and precious ballet arrived at the Paris Opera: Jewels, a work first performed by the New York City Ballet in 1967. This alluring, abstract ballet, a triptych in which each piece sparkles with the brilliance of a precious stone, is a lyric tribute to women and to the capital cities of the great dance schools. Couturier, painter and craftsman Christian Lacroix created the glorious costumes and sets which, together with the outstanding performances of the dancers and the sensitive musical direction of Paul Connelly, result in a celebration of sumptuous splendour.
- George Balanchine Forever - A film by Reiner E. Moritz, including interviews with Barbara Horgan, chairman of the Balanchine Foundation, Brigitte Lefevre, director of Ballet de L'Opera, designer Christian Lacroix and star dancers Laetitia Pujol, Clairemarie Osta, Aurelie Dupont, Agnes Letestu and Marie-Agnes Gillot
Translucence, transparency – warmth are the qualities identified by Bernard Haitink as necessary for an ideal sound performance of Beethoven's only opera, and all are present in this fantastic recording of Katharina Thalbach's new production for Opernhaus Zurich. Haitink conducts the Zurich Opera Orchestra in a magnificent performance in which Leonore Overture No. 3 provides an interlude between the two scenes of the second act, following a tradition started by Gustav Mahler. German soprano Melanie Diener, in the role of Leonore, leads a brilliant cast including Alfred Muff as Rocco, Roberto Sacca as Florestan, Sandra Trattnigg as Marzelline and Christoph Strehl as Jaquino.
In Guy Joosten's ingenious production of Bellini's masterpiece, Norma is about more than just beautiful singing. It becomes a layered, timeless drama in which Norma is the archetypal successful woman struggling to retain her dominant but vulnerable position. Hasmik Papian's lyrical and intense interpretation of the title role accentuates the striking similarity between a Druid high priestess and a modern opera diva. Conductor Julian Reynolds guides the brilliant cast, choir and Netherlands Chamber Orchestra to great heights, providing a refreshing new take on the chef d'oeuvre of bel canto.
Bonus features :
- Introduction to Norma , including interviews with principal members of the cast and artistic team.
- Illustrated Synopsis
Tom Cairns' cinematic film of Bernstein's chamber opera features a young and vibrant cast, set in the Fifties. This biting satire on American suburban married life stars Stephanie Novacek as Dinah and Karl Daymond as Sam, facing a serious communication breakdown - he is obsessed with his achievements in work and sport: she seeks escapism via therapy and the magical world of the latest movie release, Trouble in Tahiti . Inspired by jazz and American musical comedy, the score is a path-breaking fusion of lyric art with popular entertainment.
- Introduction to Trouble in Tahiti
- Not Particularly Romantic - Humphrey Burton, Bernstein's biographer, comments on the composer's life and the significance of Trouble in Tahiti.
- A Very Testing Piece - Conductor Paul Daniel on the performance and background of the opera
This world premiere of a gripping new work by composer Harrison Birtwistle and librettist David Harsent, commissioned by The Royal Opera, brings the monstrous, Greek mythological character to the stage. The Minotaur, part man, part beast, trapped in his labyrinth and constrained by his bloodthirsty role there, longs to discover his true identity and his own voice. Athens must pay a blood sacrifice to Crete and among the innocents is Theseus, who has come to challenge the violent Minotaur, but who also attracts the attention of Ariadne, half-sister and keeper of the monster; it is with her help he succeeds.
Director David McVicar describes Carmen as "the first ever musical," and his new production, with Anne Sofie von Otter in the title role, restores the original opéra comique as Bizet wrote it, stripping away subsequent re-workings which turned it into a grand opera. Philippe Jordan makes his Glyndebourne debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Glyndebourne Chorus and a cast that includes Marcus Haddock, Laurent Naouri and Lisa Milne.
- Costume design
- How to fight on stage
- Illustrated synopsis
- The cast and their characters
- Choreographing Carmen
- The Gardens of Glyndebourne
This recording commemorates the 50th anniversary of Joaquin Achucarro's debut with the London Symphony Orchestra after winning the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic International Competition in 1959. Recorded at Jerwood Hall, St Luke's, London, with Britain's eminent conductor Colin Davis at the helm, Achucarro delivers a consummate performance that brilliantly expresses his delicate and passionate style.
Bonus features :
- Joaquin Achucarro: 50 Years On - A documentary including interviews with Placido Domingo, Simon Rattle and Zubin Mehta.
- Achucarro at the Prado - performances of solo pieces by Brahms, Chopin, Scriabin and Albeniz filmed in the beautiful setting of the Prado museum.
Glyndebourne has a proud association with the operas of Benjamin Britten, however until 2010 had never staged Billy Budd . The all-male opera with a libretto co-written by EM Forster, is based on the battle between pure good and blind evil, and is set on a British man-'o-war ship.
Michael Grandage, Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse, chose this work to make his long-awaited operatic debut. Sir Mark Elder returned to conduct the production, marking the 100th opera production in his illustrious career.
Commissioned to celebrate the marriage of the Sun King, Louis XIV, and Marie Therese of Spain, the original production of Cavalli's Ercole Amante took two years to complete and, at the time, was the grandest show ever performed in Europe. DNO's contemporary, hilarious and surreal production, directed by David Alden, is a triumph of opera buffa, a riot of decoration and symbolism complemented by Constance Hoffman's exceptional costumes. Luca Pisaroni's Ercole is heroic and melodious in turn, Veronica Cangemi is a splendid Iole, and the Chorus of De Nederlandse Opera and Concerto Koln give a sublime performance under Ivor Bolton, a master of baroque music.
- Illustrated synopsis.
- Cast gallery.
- Behind the scenes with Johanette Zomer.
- Behind the scenes with Luca Pisaroni.
- The making of Ercole Amante.
Based on the Alexandre Dumas novel that also inspired the stories of Verdi's La Traviata and Hollywood's Moulin Rouge , John Neumeier creates a riveting dance drama around the famous woman of lore, La Dame aux camelias . The passionate tale of Marguerite Gautier and Armand Duval unfolds ingeniously through a drama-within-a-drama as they meet at the theatre during a performance of Manon Lescaut . So begin their romantic adventures in Paris, brought to life by Neumeier's intense and refined choreographic language. Chopin's ravishing music highlights this exceptional neo-classical ballet, featuring the star dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet. This lavish production, filmed live at the Palais Garnier, is all about love, passion, danger and glorious dancing from one of the best ballet companies in the world.
- Illustrated synopsis
- Flashback on the Lady of the Camellias - a documentary by Reiner E. Moritz and Stephane Loison
Cursive II is a masterpiece by Lin Hwai-min, choreographer of the highly acclaimed Moon Water and Bamboo Dream. Inspired by the aesthetics of Chinese calligraphy, this work is both commanding and seductive. The superb Cloud Gate dancers, trained in meditation, Chi-Kung and martial arts, touch you with original movements, fierce as striking thunder or soft as flowing ink on rice paper. The complexity of energy is further enhanced by the music of John Cage, while the blown-up images of 'ice crackles' from Sung porcelain shimmer with delicate beauty. This production exquisitely filmed by dance expert Ross MacGibbon captures the meditative aura of the dance. It excites. It mesmerizes. You can never turn away an eye for one second.
- Dragon Flying and Phoenix Dancing - an introduction to Cursive II with Lin Hwai-min
- Floating on the Ground - a documentary by Reiner E. Moritz, portraying Lin Hwai-min, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan and Cursive II in the context of the company’s history, including interviews with the choreographer, dancers and creative crew.
Premiered by the Opera De Paris in 1870, and inspired by the fantastical writings of E.T.A. Hoffmann, Coppélia tells the story of a young man who becomes besotted with an exquisite automaton and is finally brought to his senses by his fiancée. In their production from the magnificent Palais Garnier, choreographer Patrice Bart in his final production and designer Ezio Toffolutti explore the story's darker side while doing full justice to the exuberance and elegance of Delibes' glorious score.
Darcey Bussell and Roberto Bolle star in Frederick Ashton's Sylvia , restored to the splendour of its elegant and opulent three-act form for the 75th anniversary celebrations of The Royal Ballet. Taken from Greek mythology, it tells the story of Sylvia, loved by Aminta, abducted by Orion and eventually rescued by Eros.
Ashton was inspired by the music of Leo Delibes to create such great choreographic sequences as the famous Act 3 pas de deux and the mischievous role of Eros, one of the delightful, darkly comic characterisations for which Ashton became known and loved. Sylvia is a wonderful showcase for virtuosity, invention and classical beauty, the epitome of Ashton style in stage settings of great detail and painterly perfection.
One of the reasons why Donizetti's Don Pasquale is regarded as a cornerstone of the Italian comic opera tradition is because its characters are no mere commedia dell'arte stereotypes, but complex, vulnerable human beings. This is brought to the fore in Mariame Clement's sensitive and perceptive production, which was hailed by the Financial Times as a Glyndebourne classic'. Acclaimed buffo baritone Alessandro Corbelli sings the title role 'with just the right degree of lugubriousness', while Danielle de Niese, one of today's most sought-after sopranos, is an 'engaging' and irresistible' Norina (The Telegraph). Bel canto specialist Enrique Mazzola conducts with flair and panache.
Acclaimed Italian conductor Maurizio Benini makes his Glyndebourne debut in Donizetti's intoxicating and deeply touching opera, whose fast-moving comic story unfolds the romantic rivalry between penniless farmhand and bumptious soldier, both vying for the love of Adina. Will the bogus Dr. Dulcamara's potion, the elixir of love, help farmhand Nemorino win her heart? Peter Auty takes the role of Nemorino with Ekaterina Siurina as Adina.
Opera North's enchanting staging of The Adventures of Pinocchio , Jonathan Dove's 21st opera, is a wittily inventive feast for the eyes and ears. A full-length, through-composed grand opera with 29 characters, a sizeable chorus and a profound symphonic score, it is overflowing with visual delights, and children will love it! A sublime achievement by Martin Duncan and team, this production shines a bright new light on Collodi's dream-like original story, full of charm, darkness and magic. The superb ensemble stars Victoria Simmonds in the title role, and the orchestra and chorus respond splendidly under David Parry's vibrant baton.
- Illustrated Synopsis
- Thoughts on The Adventures of Pinocchio - Interviews with the composer, the librettist, the stage director, and the musical director
With the magnificent sets of the Quartier Latin in Giancarlo del Monaco's La Boheme as a backdrop, the Teatro Real presents an invigorating Latin jazz cross-pollination, featuring some of the world's greatest jazz fusionists: the veteran Cuban saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera and the creator of the "New Flamenco Sound," Spanish pianist Chano Dominguez. This vibrant tête-à-tête of two of Latin jazz's most talented musicians offers some of the best Latin jazz of our times. This concert fires up the screen with virtuosic and electrifying performances of some truly multi-dimensional jazz, coloured with salsa, flamenco, tango, bolero, African and other Latin music elements.
Sir Charles Mackerras teases the romantic beauty from Gounod's score, which has been much admired and performed since its debut, at the Theatre Lyrique, Paris, in 1867. In this 1994 recording, the youthful Roberto Alagna as Romeo and Leontina Vaduva as the unattainable Juliette, lead an excellent cast in a touching portrayal of this story of impossible love, based on the play by William Shakespeare.
World-renowned tenor Plácido Domingo is joined by Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna and a host of other international stars including Susan Graham, in the famously glittering 1996 Gala Concert on the stage of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Asher Fisch conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House in a programme of many of the world's best-loved operatic arias with music by composers including Bizet, Massenet, Gounod, Mozart and Donizetti.
Christopher Hogwood conducts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and a distinguished cast including Danielle de Niese and Charles Workman in Wayne McGregor's new production of Handel's opera in which The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet appear in a rare and beautifully crafted collaboration.
David McVicar's production of Giulio Cesare manages to combine serious insight with entertainment, bringing Handel's masterpiece to life in a powerful, convincing and highly intelligent way. In every line of the complex narrative the subtle nuances are apparent, reflecting perfectly the transparent and exquisite nature of Handel's musical expression. The outstanding singing of the all-star cast, led by a superb Sarah Connolly, and the vivid playing of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under the energising baton of William Christie reveal the colour and dramatic character of Handel's music in a most delightful manner.
Bonus features :
- Illustrated Synopsis
- Danielle de Niese and the Glyndebourne experience - An informal portrait of Danielle de Niese in her first Glyndebourne season.
- Entertainment is not a dirty word - A documentary by Ferenc van Damme, including interviews with the creative team and cast.
Teatro Real's majestic production of Handel's vivid tragedy, Tamerlano , stars a Lear-like Placido Domingo as the Turkish Sultan Bajazet, caught between pride, love and loyalty. Displaying the uniquely heroic quality of his voice, Domingo heads a superb cast, including Sara Mingardo, Monica Bacelli and Ingela Bohlin, all magnificently responsive to Paul McCreesh's authentic and luminous interpretation of the score. The stunning theatrical staging by Graham Vick provides a splendid setting for the characters and for designer Richard Hudson's extravagant Baroque-Islamic costumes, emphasising the brilliance of one of Handel's finest dramatic achievements.
Miyako Yoshida dances the title role originally created for Margot Fonteyn in the hauntingly beautiful underwater world of Ondine , vividly brought to life by The Royal Ballet. Frederick Ashton's shimmering choreography, Lila de Nobili's impressionistic designs and Hans Werner Henze's specially commissioned, vibrant and inventive score, memorably combine to evoke the many moods and colours of the sea.
Bonus features :
- The making of Ondine - an interview with Hans Werner Henze
Ever since its triumphant premiere in 1960, Frederick Ashton's La Fille mal gardee has been treasured as one of his happiest creations – his artistic tribute to nature, and an expression of his feelings for his beloved Suffolk countryside.
Marianela Nunez and Carlos Acosta perfectly portray the young lovers Lise and Colas, determined to thwart the plans of Widow Simone to marry off her wayward daughter to Alain, the simple son of wealthy Farmer Thomas.
Osbert Lancaster's colourful, picture-book designs, along with Ferdinand Herold's tuneful score, arranged by John Lanchbery, provide the perfect setting for Ashton's blissfully bucolic ballet, complete with haywain, pony, maypole and ribbons, a cockrel and his chickens and, of course, the famous clog dance, here wonderfully led by William Tuckett as the irascible but lovable Widow Simone.
Diana Damrau and Angelika Kirchschlager star in the acclaimed 2008 production of Humperdinck's famous fairytale opera, in the company of two of Britain's most revered musical figures: Thomas Allen, playing the role of the Father, and the legendary conductor Colin Davis. Directors Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser combine their characteristic wit and a dash of deliciously dark comedy with the opera's fairytale charm. Humperdinck's music mixes catchy folk-like songs with sumptuous instrumental colour, making the result as tunefully approachable, musically memorable and visually delightful as opera gets.
Bonus features :
- Illustrated Synopsis
- Animated cast gallery
- Interview with Colin Davis
- Fairytales feature
MacMillan's vision has been vital in shaping The Royal Ballet's style and repertory, and what better way to appreciate his art than with this rare chance to experience three contrasting works in a single performance. Abstract, dramatic, humorous – this programme gives a wonderfully varied introduction not just to MacMillan's work but to the beauty and dramatic power of ballet itself. Concerto, to Shostakovich's Second Piano Concerto, contrasts moments of exuberance and elegiac reflection. The Judas Tree places a single woman among 13 men to enact a harrowing event that is recognizably contemporary but with biblical overtones. Elite Syncopations completes the programme with a sparkling evocation of a dance hall that brings ragtime rhythms to the dance, and a ragtime band to the stage.
The Royal Ballet presents a stellar cast in Kenneth MacMillan's ballet, filmed in 1994 for the BBC, with John Lanchbery's sumptuous scoring of music by Franz Liszt. The dramatic soundscape is matched by MacMillan's penetrating interpretation of the events.
Edward Watson dances the role of Crown Prince Rudolf in Kenneth MacMillan's compelling ballet depicting the final years of Rudolf's life. A relentless downward spiral of political intrigue, drugs and murder culminates in a suicide pact between Rudolf and his 17-year-old mistress, Mary Vetsera (Mara Galeazzi), at the royal hunting lodge known as Mayerling.
- Principals in rehearsal
Giancarlo del Monaco's acclaimed new production elegantly intertwines Mascagni's and Leoncavallo's well-loved operas, masterpieces which brought new levels of realism into opera through their so-called verismo style. Jesus Lopez Cobos directs a double cast of outstanding talent in this recording.
- Interviews with Giancarlo del Monaco, Jesus Lopez Cobos, Violeta Urmana, Vincenzo La Scola, Vladimir Galouzine and Maria Bayo
The diversity of Wayne McGregor's astonishing talent is demonstrated through Chroma , Infra and Limen , each created for The Royal Ballet, for whom he is resident choreographer. Intimate yet universal, light yet dark, frenetic yet lyrical, McGregor pursues his passion for exploring the inner workings of the human body and mind, his many-layered and beautiful dances providing visual, sensual and kinaesthetic stimulus for the viewer.
Messiaen's breathtakingly intense opera on the life of St. Francis of Assisi stars Rod Gilfry as the charismatic visionary, beguiled by the glory of creation, yet fearful of both its imperfections and its transience. Pierre Audi's thoroughly engaging production for The Netherlands Opera brings out the naive imagery, the grandeur, and above all the vast tenderness of the resplendent score, revealed as a grandiose ritual with the meaning and purpose of life as its central theme. But the real drama of the work takes place in the orchestra. Elevated to stupendous heights by the sublimely inspired Ingo Metzmacher, The Hague Philharmonic and the Chorus of De Nederlandse Opera combine forces with a brilliant cast to produce the finest possible musical pilgrimage.
Marius Petipa's exotic ballet, set in legendary India, is a story of love, death and vengeful judgment. Natalia Makarova's sumptuous recreation of Petipa's choreography, with atmospheric sets by Pier Luigi Samaritani and beautiful costumes by Yolanda Sonnabend, stars Tamara Rojo as the Bayadère (temple dancer) Nikiya, Carlos Acosta as Solor, and Marianela Nuñez as Gamzatti, whose alluring presence challenges Solor's love for Nikiya.
Monteverdi's operatic scene for three voices Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda , with a libretto drawns from Torquato Tasso's Gerusalemme liberata , is a vivid romance set against the backdrop of the First Crusade, in which the noble knight Tancredi fights a duel with a supposed Saracen warrior only to discover, too late, that the vanquished opponent dying in his arms is non other than his beloved Clorinda in disguise. In this dramatic and intimate performance, staged with precision by Pierre Audi, musical director David Porcelijn gives great attention to the phrasing and dynamic demands of the score, leading the ASKO Ensemble and the singers to transparent brilliance.
- Introduction to Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clarinda by Roeland Hazendonk
Almost four decades before creating his Poppea , Monteverdi wrote in the preface to his fifth book of madrigals, "The modern composer must create his works solely on the basis of the truth" – a credo to which the music of his final opera is utterly faithful.
Poppea is a potent work from opera's first true creator and pioneering genius. The fact that, at the close of this highly charged dramma in musica , he allows evil to triumph over good (albeit temporarily), has frequently led to his being decried as amoral.
Monteverdi's timeless masterpiece, which creates a modern, deep involvement in performers and audiences alike, is brilliantly captured in this live recording of Pierre Audi's moving and beautifully styled production from Het Muziektheater Amsterdam.
- Illustrated synopsis
- Introduction to L'incoronazione di Poppea - featuring interviews with Pierre Audi, Christophe Rousset and members of the cast.
Intense and refined performances by an inspired cast, led by a profound and commanding John Mark Ainsley as the legendary tragic musician, are sustained with fluent ease and obvious affection by the ensemble under Stephen Stubbs. The beautifully styled, evocative stage production, rich with Pierre Audi's trademark symbolism, accentuates the solemn serenity of Monteverdi's most famous work to create a moving and timeless experience.
- Illustrated synopsis
- Introduction to the opera featuring interviews with Pierre Audi, Stephen Stubbs and members of the cast
Monteverdi's seminal first opera tells the dramatic story from Ovid's Metamorphoses of the descent of Orfeo (Georg Nigl) into the underworld to recover his beloved wife Euridice (Roberta Invernizzi), who has died from a snake bite. In a new production for La Scala, based on a painting by Titian and directed by Robert Wilson, the opera receives a powerful and inspiring performance from a fine cast, the Orchestra of Teatro alla Scala and Concerto Italiano under the much-admired Italian early music specialist, Rinaldo Alessandrini.
Jordi Savall directs Le Concert des Nations, La Capella Reial de Catalunya and the leading soloists of early opera in a beautiful period production of Monteverdi's favola in musica staged at Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu in 2002. Gilbert Deflo's stage direction reflects the sublime art and imagery found in Mantua's Palazzo Ducale, with its famous Hall of Mirrors, where the opera was first performed in 1607. Soloists include Furio Zanasi, Montserrat Figueras, Sara Mingardo, Antonio Abete, Daniele Carnovich, Fulvio Bettini, Gerd Turk, Francesc Garrigosa and Carlos Mena.
In his penultimate opera, based on text adapted from Homer's Odyssey , Monteverdi ventures further than ever before into the depths of human emotion. In this dramma in musica human frailty falls victim to time, fortune and love. Gods and humans, comic and intensely serious characters plus spectacular scenic effects are brought together in a wonderfully rich and effective texture. Pierre Audi's highly stylised and timeless production is captured here in a live recording from Het Muziektheater Amsterdam.
- Illustrated synopsis
- Introduction to Il Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria - including interviews with Glen Wilson and Pierre Audi.
Commissioned for the coronation of Leopold II in Prague, Mozart's last opera is a deep, humane reflection on relationships, power and forgiveness. With the composition of some of the most beautiful passages in his oeuvre, Mozart has succeeded in giving this opera seria both a noble sobriety and transparent instrumentation, to which this commanding production by the Hermann partnership does full justice on all levels. Susan Graham's most extraordinary Sesto and Christoph Pregardien's superb Tito set the standard for this riveting Opera National de Paris performance, conducted by the outstanding Sylvain Cambreling.
- A masterpiece revisited - a documentary film by Reiner E. Moritz, including interviews with Ursel and Karl-Ernst Herrmann, Sylvain Cambreling, Susan Graham, Christoph Pregardien, Hannah Ester Minutillo, Ekaterina Siurina, Catherine Naglestad and Gerard Mortier
Mozart's genius in setting to music Da Ponte's comic play of love, infidelity and forgiveness marks Cosi fan tutte as one of the great works of art from the Age of Enlightenment. Nicholas Hytner's beautiful new production, with its sure touch and theatrical know-how, lives up to its promise to be "shockingly traditional", while Ivan Fischer teases artful performances from an outstanding international cast of convincing young lovers.
Bonus features :
- Illustrated Synopsis
- Interview with Ivan Fischer
- Interview with Nicholas Hytner
- Cast Feature
- Animated Gallery
Wit and astute theatrical awareness are the hallmarks of this exceptional vision of Mozart's and Da Ponte's famous masterpieces, directed by the duo Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito. Set in a 1960s youth hostel, Cosi fan tutte is a charmingly original tableau of adolescent inexperience, while Le nozze di Figaro , set in a car showroom, exemplifies the delicate balance between love's shadowy manipulation and its cheerful innocence. Don Giovanni , by contrast, is a breathtaking, sinister game of voyeuristic intimacy and brutal violence. Ingo Metzmacher and a sparkling ensemble and cast underscore this unique vision of a kaleidoscope of human emotions with commitment and vitality.
Bonus features :
- Illustrated synopses - Cosi fan tutte , Le nozze di Figaro , Don Giovanni
- Introductions: The Trilogy , Cosi fan tutte , Le nozze di Figaro , Don Giovanni
Don Giovanni is one of the timeless classics of all opera. Mozart's music, and the words of his great collaborator Da Ponte, are brought to life in Francesca Zambello's engrossing production from 2002 with its rich and colourful designs by Maria Bjornson. The music is memorable, dramatic and enjoyable: from the seductive solo voices of the famous 'La ci darem la mano' to the fabulous ensemble as Don Giovanni's infatuated conquests, vengeful victims and their outraged relatives join forces for justice. And retribution does finally come to Don Giovanni, a serial womanizer and a murderer, with the searing flames of Hell ready to engulf him. Simon Keenlyside heads the outstanding cast, conducted by renowned Mozart expert Charles Mackerras.
- Cast gallery
- Into the Royal Opera House
- A Backstage Tour
- Antonio Pappano in conversation with Charles Mackerras and Francesca Zambello
Lluis Pasqual's powerful new production for the Spanish capital sets da Ponte's timeless story of sleaze and seduction into the dark world of 1940s Spain. Carlos Alvarez, in the title role, toys with the affections of Donna Anna, Zerlina and the Spanish lady Donna Elvira, before his overpowering methods finally bring his own destruction.
Johan Simons' feisty production of Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail is an intelligently innovative account of Mozart's 1782 comic tale of abduction, love, loyalty and forgiveness. Kurt Rydl's Osmin is hilarious, with just the right edge of latent thuggery; Mojca Erdmann's smart and cheeky Blonde sports a red riding coat, high latex boots and a belt that she is not afraid to use on the men! Laura Aikin's Konstanze, torn between true love and obligation, reveals a vast range of human emotions and Edgaras Montvidas' Belmonte portrays his coming-of-age with clarity and genuine charisma. The performance is whipped up to a feverish pitch in the pit by Constantinos Carydis, the orchestra and chorus responding with fleet virtuosity. This ground-breaking performance delivers everything one could wish for from a Mozart opera, combining thrilling energy with a profound sense of lyrical beauty and truth.
Mozart's fourth opera – written when he was only 14 – displays all the hallmarks of the fresh, inventive writing that was to flourish into extraordinary genius in his later works and, with a cast as good as this, The Royal Opera's production takes Mitridate, re di Ponto to the highest levels of operatic achievement. Based on a play by Jean Racine, it is a story of jealous love and political intrigue.
Lorenzo da Ponte's libretto and Mozart's music were to transform the stock characters of the opera buffa tradition into real human beings, making Le Nozze di Figaro one of the most sophisticated operas of all time. A charming, expressive and witty Figaro, Lorenzo Regazzo leads a sparkling cast to illustrate superbly the timeless humanity of this masterpiece. Christoph Marthaler's take on Mozart's classic is both daringly original and highly contemporary, the setting transposed to a wedding-dress shop lit with neon lights and a shabby register office.
- Illustrated Synopsis
- A Day of Real Madness – A documentary film by Reiner E. Moritz, including interviews with the cast and creative crew
In David McVicar's spellbinding production of Le nozze di Figaro the break-down of the relationship between Finley's suave, dashingly self-absorbed Count and Roschmann's passionately dignified Countess lies at the heart of the opera. The struggle to rekindle their love contrasts tragic-comically with the sexy ease between a feisty Figaro (Erwin Schrott) and a sassy Susanna (Miah Persson) and the tenacious spark that remains between Marcellina (Graciela Araya) and Bartolo (Jonathan Veira). Antonio Pappano conducts (and accompanies the recitatives) with invigorating wit and emotional depth, allowing the ensemble to capture the moments of dramatic tension to perfection and engaging fully with the rhythm of an already classic production, captured in High Definition video and surround sound.
- The Magic of Mozart - Interviews with Antonio Pappano, David McVicar and principal cast.
Boris Godunov is the story not only of a troubled leader but of an entire nation, and its history is as eventful as that of Mother Russia herself. In this new production, the legendary director Andrei Konchalovsky presents a personal vision of the opera that takes Mussorgsky's bare and monumental first version as its basis, while adding the final scene from the composer's revision, in which not only the Tsar but the people themselves reveal their fatal flaws.
Orlin Anastassov stars in the title role, conducted by Gianandrea Noseda.
Mussorgsky's loveless and brutal drama of the transformation of Russian society, which led to the rule of Peter the Great within the epic history of Russia, is powerfully modernised through Stein Winge's dramatic and uncompromising production. Performing the version completed by Shostakovich, the outstanding Russian-dominated cast and the orchestra and chorus of the Liceu are led by Michael Boder.
Giancarlo Del Monaco's passionate and intelligent production of Jacques Offenbach's magnum opus creates a climactic kaleidoscope of deep and convincing emotions. A highly credible incarnation of the pitiable Kleinzach he sings about, Aquiles Machado is the poet who loses his romantic idealism, his reflection and finally his soul to a 'trio of charming enchantresses'. Conductor Alain Guingal inspires the superbly dramatic cast, including Maria Bayo, Milagros Poblador, Valentina Kutzarova and Katharine Goeldner, in an outstanding recording.
- Interviews with Maria Bayo, Aquiles Machado and Juan Carlos Matellanes
The 1993 Winter Gala Concert from the stage of the Royal Opera House sees a stellar array of the world’s greatest artists celebrate the music of Tchaikovsky – composer of many of the all-time opera, concert and ballet favourites, including The Queen of Spades , the 1812 Overture and The Nutcracker .
For the festivities marking the Pergolesi's tercentenary in his native Jesi, Ignacio García created a new staging of the imperial drama Adriano in Siria . His staging in Jesi's exquisite 18th-century Teatro Comunale Pergolesi includes the delightful comic intermezzo Livietta e Tracollo , thus following the precedent set at the premiere in 1734. A fine Italian cast and the distinguished Accademia Bizantina are led by the Accademia's director, Ottavio Dantone.
This double bill from one of the world's leading choreographers offers two of his major works, danced by the Ballet de l'opera de Paris. The dreamlike Songe de Medee , with music by Mauro Lanza and freely based on the Greek myth of Medea, explores a woman's soul, portraying her, paradoxically, as a tender loving mother and a tormented victim who sacrifices everything, including her children, for love. MC14/22 (Ceci est mon corps) is a meeting of the spiritual and the carnal, drawing on St. Mark's version of The Last Supper in the Bible: 'Take, eat: this is my body'. Created for twelve male dancers, Preljocaj's 'Apostles of Movement', and with soundscapes by Tedd Zahmal, this powerfully sensual and passionate work is a hymn to the male body, stripped down to its deepest reality, juxtaposing the glorification of strength and the condemnation of force.
- Interviews with Angelin Preljocaj, Mauro Lanza and Brigitte Lefevre, director of Ballet de L'Opera
Prokofiev's enchantingly surreal commedia dell'arte masterwork is turned into a spectacular triumph of total theatre in this vital production from the Amsterdam Muziektheater. De Nederlandse Opera has chosen to use the more flexible French libretto of the 1921 premiere, a pertinent choice which has the advantage of accentuating the aesthetic common ground shared by Prokofiev and Les Six .
Stephane Deneve's brilliant musical direction inspires outstanding performances from the soloists and the superb Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, enhanced by the smart, blockbusting staging of Laurent Pelly and the exquisite sets of Chantal Thomas, which propel this feverish fable to great heights.
- Illustrated Synopsis
- Introduction to L'amour des 3 Oranges - including interviews with main members of the cast and the artistic team
Rudolf Nureyev's colourful, "movie-star" version of Prokofiev's Cinderella retains the classic Perrault story but sets it in America during the difficult years of the Great Depression in the 1930s and 1940s. Agnes Letestu stars as Cinderella who, living with her alcoholic father, tyrannical stepmother and two spiteful stepsisters, dreams of escape and stardom in Hollywood. After a promising screen-test during which The Film Star, suavely portrayed by Jose Martinez, falls head over heels in love with her, she is fearful that her new-found happiness is too good to be true and will vanish with her youth. Fortunately, her magical protector (in the form of The Producer) and her lover move heaven and earth for a 'happily ever after' ending. This is Paris Opera Ballet at its very best.
Peter and the Wolf , Prokofiev's musical fairy tale, has been delighting children since 1936. Nearly 60 years later, in 1995, the young choreographer Matthew Hart created a witty choreographed version for the Royal Ballet School with designs by Ian Spurling. Described as 'an utterly delightful ballet and a perfect showcase for the younger students,' by the Royal Ballet's Director, Monica Mason, it was staged again in 2010.
John Copley's enduring production of one of the most famously melodious and popular of all operas is a classic of the Royal Opera repertory. With historically accurate designs by Julia Trevelyan Oman and an excellent cast headed by Hibla Gerzmava and Teodor Ilincai, this 2009 revival, in which conductor Andris Nelsons makes a distinguished Royal Opera House debut, does full justice to Puccini's masterpiece.
Bonus Features :
- Cast Gallery
- Interview with John Copley
- Interview with Andris Nelsons
Giancarlo del Monaco's one million euro cinematic production of Puccini's popular masterpiece takes its place among the great interpretations of modern times. Jesus Lopez Cobos directs an outstanding cast, led by Inva Mula and Aquiles Machado as Mimi and Rodolfo, in a landmark recording.
Nikolaus Lehnhoff's Hollywood-style production updates this Wild West story to the capitalist culture of Wall Street, perfectly reflecting Puccini's innovatory spirit. In a new angle on the age-old love triangle theme, corrupt Sheriff Jack Rance (Lucio Gallo) and charismatic criminal Dick Johnson (Zoran Todorovich) vie for the love of glamorous blonde and devout Christian Minnie (Eva-Maria Westbroek), finding her way in a man's world. Carlo Rizzi's idiomatic conducting draws excellent singing from the large cast and fine playing from the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra.
Bonus features :
- Backstage insights - principal members of the cast and Basia Jaworski.
Robert Wilson's pure and highly stylised 2003 production enhances the timeless beauty of Puccini's moving Japanese tragedy. Cheryl Barker and Martin Thompson lead an inspired cast in a highly charged recording from the Amsterdam Muziektheater with the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by a masterful and passionate Edo de Waart.
- Illustrated Synopsis
- Introduction to the Madama Butterfly - interviews with Robert Wilson, Edo De Waart and the cast
Daniela Dessi takes the title role in Nuria Espert's new production of Puccini's fiery Roman melodrama of lust, betrayal and revenge.
A new production by the internationally acclaimed director Nuria Espert for the Teatro Real, Madrid, in a beautifully intense and dramatic classical style. The lighting by Vinicio Cheli increases the atmosphere of a performance which is destined as a benchmark for twenty-first century productions. Based on the theatre play La Tosca , by Victorien Sardou and first performed at the Teatro Costanzi de Roma on 14th January 1900. Libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa.
- Interviews with Daniela Dessi and Fabio Armiliato, Ruggero Raimondi, Maurizio Benini, and Nuria Espert
The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera join forces for Wayne McGregor's acclaimed fusion of music and movement, whose richly layered designs perfectly complement Purcell's telling of a classical tale of love thwarted by evil powers. With Sarah Connolly and Lucas Meachem in the title roles, Christopher Hogwood conducts the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
Jonathan Kent's spectacular production of Purcell's huge semi-opera is joyous, imaginative and witty. Glyndebourne, with its intimate auditorium, provides the perfect setting for a drama which is partly spoken and partly sung. Based on an adaptation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream , the story is lavished with a brilliance that justifies this production's acclaim. Paul Brown's inventive designs, Kim Brandstrup's exquisite choreography, an excellent cast of actors and singers and outstanding playing by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment under William Christie combine to make a seamless theatrical experience.
Bonus features :
- Staging The Fairy Queen - an interview with Jonathan Kent
- Music of The Fairy Queen - an interview with William Christie
Director Robert Carsen and his creative team flood the stage with summer blossoms, drifts of autumn leaves, winter snows and thunderous spring storms. The cast of 140 are attired in elegant costumes inspired by late 1940s Dior. This mythical tale of a young queen, Alphise, determined to abdicate rather than contemplate an enforced marriage to a descendant of Boreas, is nothing less than highly-charged.
Ground-breaking modern dance ensemble La La La Human Steps, choreographed by ??douard Lock, perform dance divertissements in this strikingly beautiful staging.
The Triumph of Love – 60 minute documentary on the background of the production, including interviews with Robert Carsen, William Christie, Barbara Bonney, Paul Agnew and Laurent Naouri and other members of the cast.
Castor et Pollux is arguably Rameau's finest creation in the tragédie lyrique style. Its libretto, based in mythology, focuses on an unusual theme: the self-sacrificing love between Castor, who is mortal, and his immortal brother, Pollux. When Castor is killed while defending his beloved Telaire from an attempted abduction, Pollux resolves to give up his immortality and take Castor's place in the Underworld. After passionate debate over who will live and who will die, the brothers are eternally united, transformed into the constellation Gemini. The strikingly luminous sets, depicting a stylized version of the constellation, give this fabulous production, staged by Pierre Audi and conducted by Christophe Rousset, a glorious 21st-century baroque look.
Bonus features :
- Illustrated Synopsis
- To serve this big spectacle - a look behind the scenes of Castor et Pollux with comments by Pierre Audi and members of the cast and crew.
Jean-Philippe Rameau was still a young musician when he moved to Lyon, where he probably composed his few surviving motets, including the grand motet In Convertendo , here performed by Les Arts Florissants under William Christie, which anticipates Rameau's orchestration in his later operatic works. The wonderful fugue on Psalm 126:6 "Euntes ibant et flebant" (They went forth and wept) bears comparison with similar works by his contemporary, J.S. Bach.
In addition to a full performance of In Convertendo , this video presents some of Rameau's key chamber music pieces and an insightful music documentary, The Real Rameau , which sheds light on the life of a composer who thought only of music, dreaming of a universal harmony and regarding music as an example to all the arts and, indeed, to all the sciences as well. Pictured by his contemporaries as a gaunt and taciturn man, ill-suited to courtly surroundings, his work was described by Berlioz as "one of the most sublime conceptions of dramatic music."
William Christie and Les Arts Florissants propel this exuberant production of Jean-Philippe Rameau's second opera to great heights. Andrei Serban's extravagant, highly baroque staging presents the four exotic love stories in a fantastic operatic spectacle. In Le Turc genereux Osman sets free his captive, Emilie, whom he loves, so that she may be reunited with her former lover, Valere; Les Incas de Perou is all about the rivalry of the Inca Huascar and the Spaniard Don Carlos, both in pursuit of Princess Phani; Les Fleurs offers a Persian love intrigue, as the Sultana Fatima tries to detect whether her husband Tacmas has his eye on the lovely Atalide; and Les Sauvages takes us to North America, where a Spaniard and a Frenchman compete for the love of Zima, daughter of a native chief, who prefers one of her own people.
- Swinging Rameau – A 50-minute documentary analysis featuring interviews with William Christie, Nicolas Rivenq, Blanca Li, Andrei Serban, Paul Agnew, Patricia Petibon
Inspired by a fable by La Fontaine, Rameau produced perhaps his most brilliant music for his penultimate great work, blending reality and the surreal on several levels. This passionate new production by Jose Montalvo, stunningly choreographed by Montalvo and Dominique Hervieu, sets new standards in entertainment, charm and ingenuity. The sharp and spectacular multimedia staging does full justice to Rameau's dazzling burlesque, confirming Olivier Rouviere's statement that ' Les Paladins is the last laugh of a witty 77-year old composer'. Recorded live in 2004 at the Paris Theatre du Chatelet, both the virtuoso cast and Les Arts Florissants are in top form, clearly enjoying themselves in the masterful hands of William Christie.
- Baroque that rocks! – A documentary film by Reiner E. Moritz featuring interviews with William Christie, Dominique Hervieu, Topi Lehtipuu, Stephanie d'Oustrac and other members of the cast
Making full use of Drottningholm Theatre's unique 17th century Baroque theatre machinery, as well as his deep creative understanding of the profound drama of the work, stage director Pierre Audi creates a production of Zoroastre that completely accords with the spirit of Rameau. True to the form of the tragedie lyrique, choreographer Amir Hosseinpour's dances perfectly match the weight and meaning of both plot and music. The ensemble, Les Talens Lyriques, reinforced with musicians from the Drottningholm Court Theatre Orchestra and Chorus, is expertly and passionately led into the musical stratosphere by musical director Christophe Rousset. This intensely dramatic production is captured live in vibrant High Definition video and true surround sound.
- Zoroastre: Discovering an opera - a documentary by Olivier Simonnet
Vladimir Jurowski and Sir Peter Hall are reunited for a fresh and vibrant but timelessly elegant production of Rossini's much-loved setting of the Cinderella story, with a fine cast led by Ruxandra Donose in the title role.
Bonus features :
- Illustrated Synopsis
- Insights - Vladimir Jurowski and Sir Peter Hall
The Nobel Prize-winning writer Dario Fo applies his inventive genius to Rossini's comic opera in its premiere video release. Recorded in 2005 under the musical direction of Maurizio Barbacini, Fo's production brings fresh vitality and colour to the story of Lisetta, and of her father's attempts to find a husband for her through an advertisement in the newspaper La Gazzetta .
The renowned Rossini expert Alberto Zedda, inspired by the creative brilliance of Pier Luigi Pizzi's production, leads a fizzing account of Rossini's 1812 comic opera – the composer's first La Scala commission.
- Interviews with Alberto Zedda and Pier Luigi Pizzi
Alain Maratrat's highly original and clever production of Il Viaggio a Reims , developed over several seasons by the Theatre du Chatelet and the Mariinsky Theatre, took both theatres by storm. A radiant Valery Gergiev whips up a cast of brilliant young singers from the Academy of the Mariinsky Theatre to unbelievable heights in a colourful, witty rendering that reinvigorates Rossini's last Italian opera.
Shostakovich's musically brilliant and ingeniously panoramic opera about love, lust, power and oppression is fabulously well played by the Concertgebouw Orchestra under Mariss Jansons in this authoritative production. Stage director Martin Kusej builds on formidable musical strengths to forge a relentless drama that explores with emotional conviction the shadowy, layered boundaries between victims and perpetrators. First-rate protagonist Eva-Maria Westbroek is phenomenal in her gripping interpretation of Katarina, compelling the entire cast, including the choir, to almost unbearable realism in their portrayal of timeless human weaknesses.
WARNING : The strengths of this highly acclaimed production are largely due to its brutal and graphic portrayal of human emotions. Please be aware that the production contains stroboscopic light effects, nudity and scenes of a sexual nature.
- Illustrated Synopsis
- The Tragedy of Katerina Ismailova - A documentary film by Reiner E. Moritz, including interviews with Martin Kusej, Mariss Jansons and leading members of the cast
Peter Hall's magnificent 1992 production of Strauss's opera Salome features sensational acting from Maria Ewing who, as the sinister, monstrous heroine of the title, ultimately leaves nothing to the imagination in her Dance of the Seven Veils . She leads a fine cast including Michael Devlin as a strong-voiced Jokanaan, Kenneth Riegel as a devilish Herod, Gillian Knight as the depraved Herodias and Robin Leggate as the infatuated Narraboth. The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, in excellent form, is conducted by Edward Downes.
David McVicar's powerful 2008 production of Oscar Wilde's bible-based drama takes the controversially disturbing film Salo as its visual reference, setting it in a debauched palace in Nazi Germany. Strauss's ravishing and voluptuous score adds to the sexual alchemy conjured by an international cast led by Nadja Michael in the title role.
WARNING: Contains nudity and scenes of violence.
- Documentary – David McVicar: A work in process .
In this celebrated Glyndebourne Festival production, David Hockney's designs for director John Cox reinterpret the Hogarth etchings that inspired the opera's libretto, written for Stravinsky by W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman.
In 2010, this revival under Glyndebourne's Music Director, Vladimir Jurowski, captured the opera's neo-classical spirit and its juxtaposition of whimsy, cynicism and compassion, prompting the Financial Times to call it, "as enjoyable a performance of Stravinsky's opera as any that has come along".
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.
Lewis Carroll's ever-popular story provides the basis for Christopher Wheeldon's spectacular new work, starring Royal Ballet Principal Lauren Cuthbertson. Captivating designs by Bob Crowley, an engaging and passionate score by Joby Talbot, and Wheeldon's breathtaking choreography combine to produce, in the words of The Times, "spectacular family entertainment brought to life with enormous theatrical verve."
In Marco Polo , an opera within an opera, composer Tan Dun portrays the Venetian explorer's travels to the Far East as a journey of both inner and physical discovery, a voyage depicting spiritual experiences as well as a geographical expedition. At the same time the work, on a libretto by Paul Griffiths, can be seen as a compositional adventure of the composer himself, unifying the various cultural worlds he occupies: a blend of Western avant garde and Oriental traditions. Pierre Audi's mythical staging and Jean Kalman's fabulous set design complement the composer's own musical direction, forging the dazzlingly versatile soloists, the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra and Capella Amsterdam to a stunning symbiosis of elements across time and space, a true testimony to cultures intertwined in globalisation.
Bonus features :
- Synopsis - Cast gallery
- The Music of Tomorrow - A documentary by Reiner E. Moritz, including interviews with the creative team and principal members of the cast.
Paper, normally a utilitarian material, becomes a solo instrument in Tan Dun's ingenious and inventive Paper Concerto , fusing orchestral music and organic sounds to create accessible, even melodious, music that is almost beyond imagination. Intriguing sounds are created by all manner of different papers, so that they appear elemental rather than simplistic, tapping into something basic in the fabric of our lives. In a remarkable and unforgettable concert experience, Tan Dun directs the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra and soloist Haruka Fujii in a vivid demonstration of his belief that orchestral music, far from being static and traditional, still has the capacity for experimentation and the power to stimulate in extraordinary ways.
Bonus features :
- Paper: The Song of Nature
- Tan Dun demonstrates Paper Music
- Tan Dun teaches Paper Instruments
Tan Dun's hypnotic three-movement Water Concerto is intoxicating, both visually and aurally. Using water as a musical instrument, this extraordinary piece uses innovative techniques to explore the musicality of the sounds of water. Virtuoso percussionist and soloist David Cossin displays remarkable genius as he deftly creates unique, sensuous, organic and sometimes celestial sounds using a range of water-based instruments. Conducted by the composer, the distinctive accompaniment of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, reflecting Dun's personal combination of Chinese and Western musical traditions, is carefully interwoven and combined with the water percussion to produce a uniquely enchanting performance.
Tan Dun has made an indelible mark on the world's music scene with a creative repertoire that spans the boundaries of classical, multimedia, Eastern and Western musical systems. His score for Ang Lee's film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon received Academy and Grammy Awards in 2000 and an Oscar Award for best original score in 2001. In 2008 he was selected by the International Olympic Committee to write the logo and award ceremony music for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and composed Internet Symphony No. 1, "Eroica," commissioned by Google/YouTube as the focal point...
The Choir sings John Tavener's hauntingly beautiful unaccompanied choral music in a stunning virtual reality restoration of the ancient St. Sophia church in Constantinople. Orthodox ikons enrich the visual tapestry, enhancing the full richness of Tavener's mystic inspiration.
- Manifestations of God - Sir John Tavener on his choral music and the parents of Athene talk about the inspiration behind Song for Athene
- The ikon chooses you - Robert J. Roozemond on a ikonographic art
World premiere performance of Sir John Tavener's epic work written for the new millennium, recorded in St Paul's Cathedral, London, in January 2000. Richard Hickox conducts the City of London Sinfonia with Patricia Rozario, Michael Chance and Stephen Richardson, in a work which came to Tavener in a vision. The composer makes full use of the remarkable acoustics of St Paul's.
- Introduction and interview with Sir John Tavener by Stephanie Hughes.
- The Eye of the Heart - Sir John Tavener talks about his beliefs and music.
Based on Gogol's fantastical and comic story of the Devil's antics on Christmas Eve, this magical blend of opera and ballet is brought to vivid life in Francesca Zambello's colourful production. Magnificent set designs (Mikhail Mokrov) and costumes (Tatiana Noginova), and an excellent, largely Russian cast provide authenticity. Splendid dancing by The Royal Ballet and Cossack dancers completes the spectacle.
Described by Tchaikovsky as "lyric scenes", Eugene Onegin receives a spectacular reinterpretation from the Norwegian director Stefan Herheim. His productions create controversy and excitement around Europe, and here he takes Pushkin's story of illusion, disaffection and frustrated love, and places the protagonists – world-weary Onegin and naïve, passionate Tatyana – in a triple temporal perspective, referencing the theatrical present, the period of the work's composition, and the pageant of Russia's history. Mariss Jansons, renowned for his mastery of Tchaikovsky's symphonies, conducts this performance from Amsterdam's Muziektheater.
This all-time ballet favourite, in which young Clara is swept into a fantasy adventure when one of her Christmas presents comes to life, is at its most enchanting in Peter Wright's glorious production – as fresh as ever in its 25th year. Tchaikovsky's ravishing score, period designs by Julia Trevelyan Oman (including an ingenious magical Christmas tree), an exquisite Sugar Plum Fairy (Miyako Yoshida) and chivalrous Prince (Steven McRae), the mysterious Drosselmeyer (Gary Avis) and vibrant dancing by The Royal Ballet make for a captivating performance.
This visually stunning, all-new production of Nutcracker , choreographed by Helgi Tomasson (artistic director of the San Francisco Ballet) is a graceful and timeless adventure on a grand scale. The scenic design by Michael Yeargan, setting the tale at the time of the 1915 San Francisco World Fair, is sensational. From the lovely Waltz of the Flowers to the crystalline beauty of the stunning Snowflake Waltz, each scene is more breathtaking than the last, bringing to life all the well-known and beloved characters with fresh sparkle and compelling originality. This age-transcending production offers a dazzling magical journey which has received critical acclaim throughout the world.
- Illustrated Synopsis.
- Interviews with Helgi Tomasson, Michael Yeargan and Martin Pakledinaz.
Obsessive in gambling and in love, the soldier Hermann is the protagonist of Tchaikovsky's Pique Dame , based on a story by Pushkin. He is smitten with the aristocratic Lisa and fixated on learning the winning secret of "the three cards" from her grandmother, the Countess, played by iconic contralto Ewa Podles. This opulent production from Barcelona's Liceu captures St Petersburg in the era of Catherine the Great, while the house's Music Director Michael Border conducts a large and impressive cast.
A performance of Sleeping Beauty by the Dutch National Ballet, recorded at Het Muziektheater in Amsterdam in 2004 and choreographed by Sir Peter Wright.
Bonus features :
- We All Love Magic - featurette about fairy tales.
- The Story Is In Their Hands - Sir Peter Wright describes the use of mime.
- A Crystal-Cut Diamond - Sir Peter Wright on rehearsing The Sleeping Beauty
- I Got Stuck - A portrait of Sofiane Sylve.
Tchaikovsky's The Sleeping Beauty is one of the best loved of classical ballets, combining in a single work all the enchantment and virtuosity that ballet has to offer. The royal court, the panoramic journey of the Prince to the overgrown castle, and the great celebratory dances of the happy ending (in which other famous fairytale figures appear) are all brought to life by the luscious designs of this celebrated production, created in 1946 for the The Royal Ballet. The inspired performances of its revival for the 75th anniversary of the Company in 2006 make this a superb tribute to The Royal Ballet's unique style and visual splendour.
Marius Petipa's demanding but enchanting choreography of Tchaikovsky's romantic fairytale The Sleeping Beauty is one of the best-loved of all classical ballets. This recording of Anthony Dowell's gloriously romantic 1994 production, with charming, dreamlike designs by Maria Bjornson, features an all-star cast led by Viviana Durante as a charismatic Princess Aurora, Zoltan Solymosi as a delightful Prince Florimund and Anthony Dowell as a wonderfully dishevelled Carabosse. The Royal Ballet, in exceptionally fine form, is beautifully accompanied by the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, conducted by Barry Wordsworth.
Agnes Letestu, a feminine and warm Odette, and Jose Martinez, a convincing, pale, vulnerable prince Siegfried, are the stars of this deeply passionate, 'dream' version of Swan Lake . Rudolf Nureyev's interpretation of Tchaikovsky's lyrical ballet, far from being a cliched stereotype of this celebrated masterpiece, is an expose of astonishingly powerful and recognisable human emotions. Under the inspired and clear-cut musical direction of Vello Pahn, this production of one of the jewels of the Paris Opera Ballet's repertoire brilliantly displays the meticulous precision, technical prowess and pure, unmannered style of the company's unrivalled female corps de ballet, eliciting an ethereal, intense beauty.
Yolanda Sonnabend's Faberge-inspired designs evoke a world of Imperial Russia in Anthony Dowell's acclaimed production for The Royal Ballet of one of the world's best-loved ballets. Marianela Nuñez as Odette/Odile and Thiago Soares as Prince Siegfried bring new vitality to a compelling story of tragic romance. The Russian conductor Valeriy Ovsyanikov directs the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House in Tchaikovsky's lush romantic score.
Placido Domingo heads an internationally renowned cast in Emilio Sagi's stylish new production for Madrid's Teatro Real of Moreno Torroba's enduring Zarzuela, whose story itself is set in the Spanish capital. Jesus Lopez Cobos conducts the Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro Real.
- Interviews with Placido Domingo, Emilio Sagi and Jesus Lopez Cobos
In a tragic-comic take on the extremes of celebrity culture, composer Mark Anthony Turnage, librettist Richard Thomas and director Richard Jones add Anna Nicole Smith to opera's gallery of bad, sad girls. A pneumatic Playboy model who married an octogenarian billionaire, she achieved grotesque fame before her destitute, drug-riddled death. With its jazz-coloured score and Eva-Maria Westbroek's starry performance, this is, as the New York Times said: "an engrossing outrageous, entertaining and, ultimately deeply moving opera".
Cult director Robert Wilson's highly stylised and intensely dramatic staging brings a Zen-like tranquility to Verdi's great opera concerning the conflict between individual aspiration, tradition and duty. His visually calm, yet emotionally taut, direction is emphasised by outstanding performances from the cast and the Symphony Orchestra and Choir of La Monnaie-De Munt under the commanding and inspired musical direction of Kazushi Ono. Recorded live at the Royal Opera House, La Monnaie-De Munt in Brussels, this riveting and painstakingly beautiful production, reminiscent at times of Japanese Noh theatre, offers a new and thought-provoking experience of a masterpiece.
Filmed at the Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona, Daniela Dessi, Elisabetta Fiorillo, Fabio Armiliato, Juan Pons and Roberto Scandiuzzi lead the cast in the renowned period production filmed in 2003 against the historic paper trompe-l'oeil sets painted between 1936-45 by Josep Mestres Cabanes, the last representative of the old Catalan school of scenography. Mestres Cabanes worked on his Aida vision for eight years. The opulent staging he created in 1945 is here in every detail. The seven magnificent sets he painted for Aida in 1945 have been subtly and painstakingly restored by Jordi Castells and his team - revealing the palaces, temples and surroundings of Memphis and Thebes which the set designer had wanted to evoke in his historical yet also fantasy-like vision.
These fascinating sets are not just realistic - but also magical in the theatrical sense. Mestres Cabanes loved the theatre which he had been exploring for over a quarter of a century. His sets are dramatic and visceral, conceived for stage action, conveying the dynamic tensions proper to each part of the work – intimate, epic, severe, sensual, troubled and tragic.
- Scenographer Josep Mestres Cabanes at the Liceu
- Illustrated synopsis
Cheryl Studer, in the title role, leads an excellent cast in Elijah Moshinsky's 1994 production of Verdi's extravagant and magnificent Egyptian opera. Aida was acclaimed at its first performance in 1871 and has grown in stature ever since to become one of the best-loved and most-performed grand operas of all time.
The inspirational Vladimir Jurowski conducts Verdi's last opera, his only true comic opera. An international cast is led by Christopher Purves in the larger-than-life role of the corpulent Falstaff , whose profligacy both outrages and inspires the citizens of Windsor. Richard Jones's production brings out the humour, bitterness and anger – mixed with tenderness and wisdom – embodied in the Shakespeare plays on which the libretto is based.
The spectacular opening production of London's newly restored Royal Opera House, first broadcast live on BBC television in December 1999, brings a riot of colour to Verdi's great Shakespearean masterpiece. Bryn Terfel as Sir John Falstaff and Barbara Frittoli as Alice Ford lead a star cast with the Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House under the direction of Bernard Haitink, in a spectacular new production by Graham Vick.
Black, red, cream and gold are the colours that define Phyllida Lloyd's Royal Opera House staging of Verdi's robust, yet penetrating setting of Shakespeare's Scottish play. Manipulated by a whole coven of cunning, scarlet-turbanned witches, the characters often evoke figures in a splendid Gothic fresco. With Simon Keenlyside making his British debut, as an athletic, brooding Macbeth and Liudmyla Monastyrska as his Lady, both imperious and subtle, this performance, masterfully conducted by Antonio Pappano, goes far beyond mere sound and fury.
- Interview with Liudmyla Monastryrska, Simon Keenlyside, Raymond Aceto
- Rehearsing Macbeth with Antonio Pappano
Verdi's first published opera, written in his 20s, already shows the instinctive melodic gift and heightened sense of drama which was to make him a giant among composers of grand opera. Set in 13th century Italy, Oberto was first performed at La Scala, Milan in 1839 - 54 years before his last opera was premiered there - and prepared the way for a lifetime's work which would culminate in some of the finest music ever written.
The first of Verdi's two late Shakespearian operas stands as one of the great masterpieces of grand opera. Jose Cura, ranked among the world's leading interpreters of Verdi's music, takes the title role in Willy Decker's profound and intense production, recorded live at the Liceu, Barcelona in 2006.
Verdi's drama of revenge, in its stunning new production by David McVicar, is filled with some of the composer's most celebrated music. Edward Downes conducts the Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House with a cast which includes Marcelo Alvarez, Christine Schäfer and Paolo Gavanelli. Contains nudity.
Bonus features :
- Illustrated synopsis
- Verdi through the looking glass - a BBC documentary
- Director David McVicar talks about his production of Rigoletto
Once regarded as Verdi's lost opera because of early censorship and controversy, Stiffelio has now established its rightful place in Verdi's canon. In this 1993 recording from the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Jose Carreras, as the Protestant minister whose faith is shattered when he discovers his wife's adulterous liaison with a family friend, leads a fine cast that includes Catherine Malfitano, Gregory Yurisich, Gwynne Howell and Robin Leggate under the baton of Edward Downes.
Verdi's best-loved work is performed here by a star cast in a revival of Richard Eyre's highly acclaimed 1994 production. Music Director Antonio Pappano conducts La traviata for the first time at Covent Garden. American soprano Renée Fleming returns to Covent Garden to sing Violetta for the first time with The Royal Opera. La traviata was first performed at the Teatro La Fenice, Venice in March 1853.
Norah Amsellem as Violetta leads a cast of outstanding talent in Pier Luigi Pizzi's beautiful production. Jesus Lopez Cobos conducts the Chorus and Orchestra of the Teatro Real (Madrid Symphony Orchestra and Chorus) in an acclaimed reading of one of Verdi's greatest works.
- Illustrated synopsis
- Insights from Jesus Lopez Cobos, Norah Amsellem, Jose Bros and Renato Bruson
A gigantic blood-red monster, made of steel and flames, floating on the still waters of Lake Constance - this is Robert Carsen's unconventional vision of the setting of Verdi's masterpiece Il Trovatore for the 60th anniversary of the Bregenz Festival. In this threatening set of fire and metal, designed by Paul Steinberg, the characters burn with the passions they experience ?EUR" love, hatred, sexual desire and revenge ?EUR" and which eventually destroy them. The live recording of this most spectacular outdoor production combines astonishing images, relevant reflections on today's world and superb musical expression from the soloists and the world-renowned Wiener Symphoniker Orchestra, inspired by musical director Thomas Rosner.
- A Stage on a Lake - a documentary including interviews with the stage director and set designer
Jose Cura leads the star cast of Verdi's blazingly passionate opera in Elijah Moshinsky's new Royal Opera House production co-produced with Teatro Real Madrid, with sets by the noted Italian film designer Dante Ferretti. With Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Count di Luna, Veronica Villarroel as Leonora, and Yvonne Naef as Azucena, the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, is conducted by Carlo Rizzi.
- Illustrated Synopsis
- The cast and their characters
- Designing Il Trovatore
- All about Schläger duelling
Les vêpres siciliennes , like the similarly epic Don Carlos , was conceived as a grand opéra for Paris and is driven by the tensions between private passions and public politics. Originally set during Sicily’s 13th-century uprising against French rule, in Christof Loy’s staging for the Netherlands Opera the action is transposed to a 1940s world of sudden violence and shadowy double-dealing. Imaginatively cast and idiomatically conducted, the performance presents this magnificent score in its entirety, including the allegorical ballet The Four Seasons .
Many consider Claude Vivier the greatest composer Canada has yet produced. Gyorgy Ligeti once called him 'the finest French composer of his generation'. A pupil under Gilles Tremblay and Karlheinz Stockhausen, he soon created his own dazzling vocal and orchestral language, profoundly marked by his travels to the Far East. The interweaving of his personal and professional life, of the real and the imaginary, reveals a compelling global awareness, deep human compassion and a universal quest for ultimate enlightenment. Vivier himself pursued this journey of discovery, until his tragic murder in Paris at the age of thirty-four.
The two parts of Reves d'un Marco Polo are like shadow and light, forming a dreamlike ritualistic experience and encompassing stage productions of his finest compositions. Pierre Audi's superb and moving staging is complemented by refined, passionate musical direction from Reinbert de Leeuw, leading the soloists, the Asko Ensemble and the Schonberg Ensemble to great heights.
- Claude Vivier - a spellbinding and insightful 60-minute documentary by Cherry Duyns, from his acclaimed contemporary composer portrait series, on the life and work of Claude Vivier, including rare footage, interviews with conductor Reinbert de Leeuw and...
Austrian director Martin Kušej's pioneering vision brings a challenging and provoking insight to Wagner's opera of love and redemption, with his singular ability to connect characters and their actions to the score. Martin Zehetsgruber's spacious, multi-layered sets define the settings through which Daland (Robert Lloyd), Senta (Catherine Naglestad), The Dutchman (Juha Uusitalo) and the chorus move to great effect fulfilling the fine conducting of Hartmut Haenchen, who elicits from the orchestra an unmatchable performance of detail and clarity.
In the fourth and final part of the epic cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen , the treachery and betrayal which leads to Siegfried's death also heralds the downfall of the gods and the return of the gold to the Rhine. This stunning production of The Ring from Het Muziektheater Amsterdam blends the lyrical, mythical and philosophical qualities of Wagner's work into a profound unity. Pierre Audi's stage direction is inspired and amazing sets by George Tsypin and wonderful costumes by Oscar-winning Eiko Ishioka complement singing and playing of great intensity from the cast and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra under Hartmut Haenchen's visionary musical direction. This is a Ring to remember. This production of The Ring of the Nibelung is based on the new Complete Edition of the works of Richard Wagner.
- Illustrated synopsis
- Introduction to Gotterdammerung
With powerful conviction, Nikolaus Lehnhoff interprets Wagner's Lohengrin as the dramatic struggle of masculine and feminine, revenge and compassion. Powerfully acted, almost like a Strindberg play, and musically of the highest order, this Lohengrin from the Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden will be a benchmark production for decades. With his extraordinarily transparent interpretation of the title role, Klaus Florian Vogt leads an inspired cast to visionary realms that are rarely touched. The monumental sets by Stephan Braunfels and Kent Nagano’s sublimely well-balanced musical interpretation complete a deeply moving total-theatre experience.
- Illustrated Synopsis
- Never Shalt Thou Ask of Me - A documentary film by Reiner E. Moritz, including interviews with Nikolaus Lehnhoff, Stephan Braunfels, Bettina Walter, Kent Nagano and leading members of the cast
Ostensibly Richard Wagner's opera Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg tells a humorous tale about artistically inclined craftsmen. Goldsmith Veit Pogner promises his daughter Eva's hand in marriage to the winner of a song contest, to which three men are potentially eligible. But upon closer inspection, what is at first glance a harmless farce in a middle-class setting emerges as a profound social analysis. Wagner uses his protagonists to show how a community deals with tradition and those who break with it and just how much innovation and deviation from the norm it can tolerate – as well as to examine what value society places, and should place, on art.
Bonus features :
- The Making of Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg
Richard Wagner's tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen , in which Power and Love are presented as mutually exclusive ideas, is always a huge challenge for any opera house. Das Rheingold is the opening of this extraordinary production of The Ring from Het Muziektheater Amsterdam, with the orchestra taking its place both in the pit and on the astonishing stage.
The fantastic stage direction by Pierre Audi succeeds in forging a profound unity combining the lyrical, mythical and philosophical qualities of Wagner's work. Breathtaking sets by George Tsypin, superb costumes by Oscar-winner Eiko Ishioka and the passionate performances of the soloists and Residentie Orchestra under the inspired guest conductor Hartmut Haenchen all contribute to an intense total experience that will leave a permanent impression. This production of The Ring of the Nibelungen is based on the new collected works of Richard Wagner.
- The forging of the Ring - a documentary introduction to Wagner's Ring from Het Muziektheater Amsterdam, including interviews with Hartmut Haenchen, Pierre Audi and the principal cast
In the third part of the epic cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen , Siegfried pursues his path to manhood. As parental love dissipates and is replaced by romantic love and desire, Wagner reflects on the experience of human life and the fact of mortality. This remarkable production of The Ring , from Het Muziektheater Amsterdam, in which Pierre Audi places the orchestra on the symbolically ring-shaped stage, blends the lyrical, mythical and philosophical qualities of Wagner's work into a profound unity. Astonishing sets by George Tsypin and fabulous costumes by Oscar-winning Eiko Ishioka, combined with passionate singing from the soloists and dramatic playing from the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra under the rigorous control of Hartmut Haenchen, create an intense and highly memorable experience. This production of The Ring of the Nibelung is based on the new Complete Edition of the works of Richard Wagner.
- Illustrated Synopsis
- Introduction to Siegfried - with presenter Michael Zeeman, composer Peter-Jan Wagemans and pianist Stefan Mickisch
Recorded live at the Bayreuth Festival in Summer 2009, this production marks the beginning of an exciting new long-term partnership between the Bayreuth Festival and Opus Arte. The prestigious music festival takes place each year in Northern Bavaria, Germany in a theatre for which Wagner personally supervised the design and construction. The festival has become a pilgrimage destination for Wagner enthusiasts, who often have to wait up to ten years to obtain a ticket! Katarina Wagner, the great-granddaughter of Richard Wagner, is currently co-director of the festival together with her sister Eva Wagner-Pasquier.
Tristan und Isolde was first performed in 1865 and provided inspiration to many composers, including Mahler, Strauss, Szymanowski and Berg. It is widely acknowledged as one of the peaks of the operatic repertoire and has been performed regularly since is premiere. This production by renowned director Christoph Marthaler stars leading Wagner exponents Robert Dean Smith and Iréne Theorin in the title roles, and they are supported by the Bayreuth Festival Chorus and Orchestra conducted by Peter Schneider.
- Illustrated synopsis
- Cast gallery
- Kinder, macht was Neues! - The making of Tristan und Isolde
Glyndebourne's celebrated production of Nikolaus Lehnhoff's Tristan und Isolde is a supremely intelligent achievement; gravely beautiful, haunting and meditative, it is deeply reflective rather than visceral, fortified by Roland Aeschlimann's stunningly effective set, a womb-like space through which the protagonists move like gods. Conductor Jiri Belohlavek mirrors Lehnhoff's approach in his sophisticated plumbing of the score's depths, with every shift in texture carefully laid bare by an inspired London Philharmonic Orchestra. Nina Stemme's Isolde and Robert Gambill's Tristan, both gloriously lyrical, are matched by superb performances from Rene Pape as the betrayed and vulnerable King Marke and Bo Skovhus as Kurwenal, deeply touching in his helpless devotion to Tristan.
- Trimborn on Tristan – a talk about the musicological and philosophical backgrounds of Tristan und Isolde.
- Do I Hear the Light? - A film by Reiner E. Moritz.
Christian Thielemann, "by common consent the leading Wagner conductor of our time" (Die Presse), returns to Bayreuth for this radiant account of Die Walküre filmed at the 2010 Festival. Appearing on video for the first time, it provides the only audio-visual document of Tankred Dorst's Ring production, and follows the hugely successful release of the whole cycle on CD. Two new singers join the cast: Johan Botha as Siegmund, who was showered with praise by the press ("ideal vocal casting" in the words of the critic on the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) and Edith Haller, with her "beautiful, strong soprano voice" (Süddeutsche Zeitung) as his sister and lover Sieglinde.
Die Walkure is the second part of Richard Wagner's gargantuan tetralogy, Der Ring des Nibelungen, concerning the irreconcilable struggle between Power and Love. The originality of this production from Het Musiktheater Amsterdam more than meets the perennial challenge of staging The Ring. Pierre Audi's stage direction, in which the orchestra is placed on the ring-shaped stage, succeeds in forging a profound unity between the lyrical, mythical and philosophical qualities of Wagner's work, complemented by George Tsypin's astonishing sets and wonderful costumes by Oscar-winning Eiko Ishioka. Impassioned singing and intensely dramatic playing by the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra under the energetic baton of Hartmut Haenchen create a vigorous, almost intimate performance that will leave an indelible impression. This production of The Ring is based on the new collected works of Richard Wagner.
- Illustrated Synopsis
- Introduction to Die Walkure - with presenter Michael Zeeman, composer Peter-Jan Wageman and pianist Stephan Mickisch