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I. Zaneres (west midlands)

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Offered by Lambland ltd
Price: £19.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Top Notch, 3 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These were ordered for wifey, she is absolutely delighted, says they are good quality, very comfortable and will order some more shortly. She is a better judge than me!

Verdi - La Forza Del Destino (Giacomini) [DVD] [2005] [Region 1] [NTSC]
Verdi - La Forza Del Destino (Giacomini) [DVD] [2005] [Region 1] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Richard Vernon
Price: £19.76

5.0 out of 5 stars OLDIE BUT GOODIE, 27 May 2014
I agree with the 2 star reviewer that the picture is grainy, but the sound certainly is not. There are so many pluses to this performance that a bit of graining is not the be all and end all, in fact I become so absorbed that after a while I did not notice.
The sets are simple but very effective, one can recognize where they are meant to be.
The costumes again entirely appropriate, gives the characters even more credibility.
The cast,
Leo Nucci is a delightfully malevolent Don Carlos, quite unprepared for rhyme or reason. In the friendly bit however he comes over quite matey.
Giacomini, pleasing voice and does a good job on pleading his case as a goodie. There is a very close similarity to these two mens physical appearance, and in close up I had to look twice as who was which.
Fissore makes the most of his moment of glory in act 3, and is very entertaining as the less than charitable monk.
Giaiotto is a rich baritoned Father Superior, and has a calming influence on me, as well as the opera characters
I have left the best till last, the two leading ladies, Isola Jones is a credible gypsy girl with a beautiful clear voice and a full range, and Leontine Price, a superb range, great clarity and some ringing notes in her upper register. Great actress in the part too.
The balance of orchestra to voices is spot on, and the excellent chorus in the crowd scenes are very good.
There is a comprehensive booklet with arias and timings, background to the work and a detailed synopsis.
This is the only 'Force' that I own, but I doubt it could be bettered, except in picture quality.

Vicente Martin y Soler: L'arbore di Diana [DVD] [NTSC]
Vicente Martin y Soler: L'arbore di Diana [DVD] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Laura Aikin
Price: £19.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Pity about the staging, 17 May 2014
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The cast, Laura Aiken has a beautiful voice and uses it to good effect as Diana, Michael is Amore and has a good counter tenor,very listenable. Of the three other men, Charles Workman is the pick, I usually find this to be the case, but I do really love his voice. Davislim and Vinco are up to the job without being outstanding. The three ladies, as nymphs and other odd roles sound very pleasant individually and in trio. Given the staging and costumes that they have to work with, they do a passable acting job.
The plot, such as it is, is not very apparent, nor does the booklet, which in background is quite interesting, throw a lot of light on it. Try the internet if you want a better synopsis.
The music is Mozartian and pleasing to the ear. Voices and orchestra are well balanced, all in all pleasing to the ear.
The costumes are something else, unfathomable, ridiculous, and other such like terms come to mind, although Laura Aiken has quite a becoming evening dress.
The set is spartan, props are few and references to the garden are reinforced by drop down VDUs. There is a metallic surround with an opening one side and a strange shaped door on the other, and an occasional pop up through the floor. Visually this is a pretty boring experience.
To sum up, I give 4 stars because of the music and the singing, the other star drops off the end for inappropriate sets and costumes. It will remain in my library until perhaps one day a better staging comes along.

Mozart: Le Nozze Di Figaro [DVD] [1973]  [2004]
Mozart: Le Nozze Di Figaro [DVD] [1973] [2004]
Dvd ~ Ileanna Cotrubas

4.0 out of 5 stars Golden Oldie version, 2 May 2014
This production is 1973 re-issue and the picture quality is not as crisp as modern versions, if this is important to you this may not be for you.
The sound quality is excellent, with a very good balance between orchestra and voices.
The sets are top quality, from the well furnished room of act to the countess pink bedroom of act two, to the day and night gardens of acts three and four.
The costumes too are traditional period and quite exotic, a pleasure indeed.
The cast are overall pretty good, and the portrayals generally good, Bartolo, Marcellina and Basilio are played straight, unlike some versions where they are dressed and acted as figures of fun. I prefer this approach.
Ileana Cotrubas has a strong voice throughout her range, she is also a credible actress.
Benjamin Luxon is a great actor and singer and is probably the best count that I have seen.
Kiri Te Kanawa is near perfect as the Countess, I always thrill to her voice.
Cherubino as played by Von Stade is a good mezzo but seems much too feminine for my liking.
Knut Skram has a reasonable voice, but looks a bit self conscious in the role of Figaro.
I would mention Elizabeth Gale singing beautifully whilst looking for the pin seal in act four, and in the same act Nucci Condo doing a very appealing job in her appraisement of men.
Overall then this is a version which is a favourite in my library, but there are one or two reservations.

L'incoronazione Di Poppea: Glyndebourne (Haim) [DVD] [2009]
L'incoronazione Di Poppea: Glyndebourne (Haim) [DVD] [2009]
Dvd ~ Monteverdi
Price: £11.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inept and inapt staging, 23 April 2014
The producers had a good idea, forget sets and all that costly paraphernalia, forget period costumes, just grab something out of the wardrobe, and in the case of De Niese, just her underwear.
The red curtain will do for most scenes, but occasionally pull it back for a blue wall or white nothingness. How about a bed, PK and a bath, a few can use that, all in the best possible taste. Have a chair or two. For scene changes have the chorus, or stagehands dressed as chorus to push a few bits on or off. Great, now for the singers.
There are some, in fact all good singers, but my main problem is with Alice Coote as Nero, far too light a voice, in interchanges with De Niese, difficult to tell where one left off and the other started. Diminutive in stature, gave no stage presence. not Alice fault, just miscast. Would have prefered a tenor. Next Iestine Davies as Ottone, I love his counter tenor, but I have heard this sung by baritone, and by tenor, and it works far better for me. I do not know the composers intentions, but I do know what works for me.
Nero as portrayed is some sort of gang boss, but this does not match the plot, his guards are pistol toting bouncers.
The goddesses appear briefly in the audience at the start, except for Love who is ever annoyingly present, even when not making her plot interferences with the mortals.
Seneca, Paolo Battaglia has a fine voice, but in his big scene odd bods litter the stage with books, only to pick them back up at the end. Symbolic of something I suppose.
In one of the finer moments of bad taste Nero drowns one of his suppporters in a bath for fun. There are a few others, some played for cheap laughs.
I rest my case, I shall consign this to the charity shop, far too painful to watch again.

Monteverdi: L'Incoronazione di Poppea -- Glyndebourne [DVD] [2004] [2001]
Monteverdi: L'Incoronazione di Poppea -- Glyndebourne [DVD] [2004] [2001]
Dvd ~ Glyndebourne Festival Opera
Price: £8.65

5.0 out of 5 stars Superb staging and casting, 23 April 2014
The sound quality is excellent, but if it is picture quality that is important to you, bear in mind it is 1984, and the picture is grainy.
The opening prologue is in the heavens which are in the upper perimeters of the stage. Up here the gods argue their respective merits, and keep an eye on the mortals, and even interfere with earthly events. Very effective.
Down on earth Dale Duesing as Ottone is a warm baritone, with a very pleasant tone. The guards who have a number of small singing roles are also very good.
Maria Ewing is absolutely terrific, she does seem to have the skill to get totally inside her character, and her voice throughout her range is brilliant
Dennis Bailey acts a good part as Nero, his tone and vibrato are not quite to my liking, but this is purely personal taste. I did find that the further into the production I got the less I noticed this.
Even more pleasure aurally is from mezzo Cynthia Clarey. A sad and haunting performance from a beautiful lady.
The front line is completed by Robert Lloyd as Senenca and Elizabeth Gale as Drusilla, perfect casting.
There are a number of set changes, and each is appropriate,so much so that one hardly notices, they look so right.
The chorus are in fine form, and both they, the soloists and orchestra are well balanced throughout.
There are some excellent support singers, and one small gripe is they are not credited on the sleeve. There is no booklet or programme bit synopsis and chapters on the sleeve.
If you want to find out who portrays the goddesses, roman guards and other important but well sung minor roles then wait until the end credits.
To summarize this production is traditional in set and costume, well acted and sung, and is an absolute pleasure.

Puccini: Turandot [Cast, Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Henrik Nanasi, Andrei Serban] [DVD] [2014] [NTSC]
Puccini: Turandot [Cast, Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Henrik Nanasi, Andrei Serban] [DVD] [2014] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Chorus and Orchestra of the Royal Opera House Cast
Price: £24.98

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE ONE I HAVE WAITED FOR, 10 April 2014
Why, because I have always wanted a Turandot who has been portayed without shout singing by the artiste. I have five versions in my library and 2 Martons, guleghina, Casolla and Susan Foster are all guilty of this very forceful approach, pushing their voices very hard. Lise Lindstrom sings the part beautifully and even manages to look the part of the beautiful and icy princess.
What of other cast members, well their are better Califs than Bertoli, but he is pretty good. There are better interpretations of Liu than Nakamura, but she is still pretty good too.Ping, Pang and Pong have excellent contrasting voices which come together most pleasingly, and give energetic and entertaining portrayals.
The minor support roles are all up to the mark, as are the well balanced orchestra and chorus.
The costumes may not be authentic, but they are exotic and make the production even more watchable. The masks worn by dancers and chorus are also very effective.
Sets are very good without going over the top and symbolism abounds. The final set with a dark background with just a hint of Peking lights is quite eyecatching.
Just for the record I have not bought this yet, watched it on sky arts two and added it to my wish list. It will join my library shortly.

Bizet: Carmen [DVD] [2011] [NTSC]
Bizet: Carmen [DVD] [2011] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Béatrice Uria-Monzon
Price: £33.37

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Modernism gone mad, 20 Mar 2014
I watched this on sky arts, glad I never bought it or are likely to. By the way some of the reviews which speak of its excellence seem to be fir other production.
To business
The initial set is a phone box, soldiers march about singing about watching a crowd who are not there, while a chap in a loincloth runs round the stage and collapses from exhaustion. The singing and the voices are fine. The children mocking the soldiers are damp squibs. The chorus of cigarette girls dressed in the same overalls coats sing fine. Highlight is the soldiers vandalizing the telephone box. The soldiers are in modern uniforms, as is Alagna, who of course does sing well. Poplavskaya sings beautifully while dressed as a psychedelic tourist. Our heroine Uria-Monzon is a throaty mezzo, her voice does not gel with with me, but this is a matter of taste, even as a modern Carmen she is scarcely credible, but the lack of atmosphere from the spartan set does not help.
In act 2 Lillas Pastias bar is an open stage, a car arrives and Carmen and her friends get out and sing, a christmas tree and a deckchair are the props. When Carmen sings of the passionate dancing there is not any, but the orchestra are passionate enough. Escamillo arrives without entourage, but the soldiers chorus turns up. Erwen sings fine. Don Jose and Carmen having simulated sex does not exactly enhance the scene. Highlight the soldiers vandalise the car.
In the overture to act three a chap strips naked in front of a cut out of a bull, then runs off. Some cars arrive with luggage racks.Best bit Poplavskia aria. There is some visual improvment in this act but of doubtful relevance.
The prelude to the last act has the exciting spectacle of soldiers doubling as sceneshifters, they dismantle the bull.
Instead of the grand parade a crowd applaud a sunbathing girl in a bikini. they all rush frontstage to sing about matadors and picadors who are presumably in the orchestra pit.
At least shrock is dressed as a matador for the duet. When Don Jose hides in the crowd he is in the audience. It is with some relief that when He cuts Carmens throat plenty of mock blood flows.
To some up, if it had been a concert performance it could have been quite good, but Uria-Monzon has a long way to go dramatically and vocally.

Verdi: I Vespri Siciliani [DVD] [2010]
Verdi: I Vespri Siciliani [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ La Scala Chorus
Price: £9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Oldy but goody, 15 Mar 2014
The stagings are stylized, but very effective. Similarly the costumes which are probably not accurate get by quite well and give an easy identifier of who is on each side.
I love Cheryl Studer, and she is a fine Elena, she has a clear and mellow soprano which sits easily on my ear. Zancanaro is very good in this role, he has rather a hard voice, it is well suited here to his character. Chris Merritt is another of my favourites, his clear tenor is a delight. I am not really familiar with Furlanetto, but his baritone is easily voiced and makes for easy listening.
The minor characters are equally good and well cast. The chorus do a fine job and are crisp and clear.
The act 2 dancers are also a treat, that is until the girls are abducted.
The booklet has a full libretto as well as a comprehensive synopsis. The sections however are not numbered and cannot be related to the act headliners, a minor point really.

The Very Best of Bill Doggett: Honky Tonk
The Very Best of Bill Doggett: Honky Tonk
Price: £22.78

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ORGAN AND GROUP MUSIC AT ITS BEST, 2 Mar 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The balance of organ and the mainly saxophone lead make exceedingly pleasant listening. There are not many well known or memorable tunes, but for the jazz organ enthusiast this compilation of mainly Doggetts own compositions is a worthwhile addition to your libraray.

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