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Wagner: Rienzi (Rienzi Der Letzte Der Tribunen: Deutsche Oper Berlin 2010) [DVD] [NTSC]
Wagner: Rienzi (Rienzi Der Letzte Der Tribunen: Deutsche Oper Berlin 2010) [DVD] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Torsten Kerl
Price: £28.85

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yet another example of First-Class 'Other Opera', 26 Feb. 2011
There is a school of thought which maintains that people are either transfixed by
Wagner's music or they reject it completely. After experiencing this DVD I have
become convinced that a state of robust enthusiasm can indeed exist in regard to
some of Wagner's works.

Having arrived at this opera from an overriding 18th Century perspective,
I found the long shadow of Mozart's influence at work in Rienzi,
especially 'Idomeneo and 'La Clemenza di Tito'.
There are also echoes of Beethoven, Weber and Schubert from the
early 19th Century. This mixture, coupled with Wagner's own creative
powers result in a work which fits well into the 'Romantic Period',
yet still looks back to Opera's Classical period of the previous century.

By having Rienzi sung in German {with a little Latin} but set in Rome a
feeling of cosmopolitan artisic unity is achieved.
In addition, the updating of the plot to a kind of 20th Century
enviroment with dark totalitarian undertones tends to make the whole
concept of the work more accessible to a modern audience.
The usage of mid 20th Century video footage adds to the perception
that the whole work is ahead of its time, and, as a result,
certain nightmarish visions concerning the future 20th Century akin
to some of Mahler's symphonic music come to mind.

Torsten Kerl in the title role appears to convey his charachter's
personality both in terms of acting and singing.
Kerl is well supported by Camilla Nylund in the role of Rienzi's
sister Irene and by Kate Aldrich in the role of Adriano.
In many ways the opera tends to centre around Adriano's
infatuation with Irene as well as his romantic view of warfare
which is eventually shattered with tragic results.

The extras consist of an In-depth documentary on the makiing of
the production. In addition, there is a good choice of subtitles
and first-class sound.
All in All then another fine example of an underrated operatic
masterpiece which belongs in the 'Other Opera Category' as
opposed to the general bourgeois mainstream.

L'Olimpiade, opera by Baldassare Galuppi (Teatro La Fenice, Venice 2006) [DVD] [NTSC]
L'Olimpiade, opera by Baldassare Galuppi (Teatro La Fenice, Venice 2006) [DVD] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Andrea Marcon
Price: £24.99

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars L'Olimiade: Another neglected 18th Century Masterpiece Full of Sensuous Originality., 26 Jun. 2010
After first viewing this DVD my impression was good but not outstanding.
However, after several viewings I became only too aware that Galuppi was
a first-class opera composer, whose musical gifts, although shaped by the
Late-Baroque period contain a high standard of originality which looks
forward to the early 'Sturm und Drang' operas of Mozart.
The two highly-charged Soprano arias near the end of Act Two tend to
foresse some of Mozart's future vengeful characters such as 'Electra'
or 'Donna Elvira'. The whole opera itself would have been worthy of a
Mozart setting owing to its rather 'Classical Feel'.

Among the many highlights of Act One the duet between the lovers
Megacle and Aristra: 'Nei giomi tuo felici' stands out as a stunning
example of operatic inventiveness worthy of either Mozart or Handel.

Although Act Three lacks the musical if not dramatic intensity of the
first two acts, it still embodies the essential emotional elements
which characterize the overwhelming superiority of 18th Century Opera.
In addition, a fine cast and outstanding support from the 'Venice
Baroque Orchestra' make this production a superb testament to another
much-neglected 18th Century masterpiece.

Handel: Tamerlano [DVD] [2010]
Handel: Tamerlano [DVD] [2010]
Dvd ~ Placido Domingo
Price: £34.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Production with Surreal Atmosphere, 6 Feb. 2010
The Opera Tamerlano appears to stand out among Handel operas because of its somewhat
sombre mood and semi-tragic ending. It dates from 1724, a year in which Handel also
composed two other operatic maserpieces: Rodelinda and Giulio Cesare.
I cannot think of another example of three great operas being composed in the space
of just one year {even the Mozart-Da Ponte trilogy was created over a period of
five years}.

All three of these Handel operas contain music which reflect a kind of sinister
decadence, and this is most aparent in the figure of Tamerlano himself,
sung on this DVD by a splendid Monica Bacelli who captures all of the amorality
which prefigures opera's most alluring amoral character- Don Giovanni.

Placido Domingo in the tenor role of Bajazet gives the whole production a surreal
feel, and his determination to adapt to this kind of repertoire is most evident
during the recitatives. However, his singing is still first-class and his
venture into the realm of Baroque opera is both praiseworthy and reasuring.

Sara Mingardo, with her rather deep mezzo voice makes a very convincing
Andronico. Ingela Bohlin brings genuine pathos to her character of
Asteria. In addition, Jenifer Holloway in the role of Irene comes across
as a kind of slighty comic and hard done by Femme Fatale

The Bonus Interview with the conductor Paul Mccresh on Disc One serves as
first-class insight into this form of opera, an opera form so long neglected
but, thanks to such DVDs as this one people can now realize what really is
operatic core-repertoire. Four Stars.

Mozart: Don Giovanni [DVD] [2008] [2010]
Mozart: Don Giovanni [DVD] [2008] [2010]
Dvd ~ Francesca Zambello
Price: £29.90

35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Royal Oprea doing justice to the 'Opera of all Operas', 4 Oct. 2009
I first saw this production of Don Giovanni at the Royal Opera House in 2002,
and I have yet to experience anything which comes close to expressing the genius
behind what is probably the greatest all-round creation in the history of opera.
That said, I have never seen a second-rate performance of any opera at Covent Garden,
a situation which, I believe reinforces the reputation of the Royal Opera House as
a venue where {on the whole} a certain standard of excellence can be assured.

All in all, the performance on this DVD captures and sustains all of the opera's
musical perfection and power, cumulating in a last secene which seems to transcend
art and music drama in general, thereby giving the impression that a certain musical
ne plus ultra has indeed been reached.

In addition, this production boasts a fine cast headed by a Simon keenlyside in fine
form as the Don. Keenlyside brings about just the right amount of dark intent to the
role without ever negleting the Don's indifference in regard to his actions and his
nihilistic impulses which are essential in any performance of this 'Opera of all Operas'.

After watching the curtain call at the end of this performance, I became convinced that
some members of the cast were aware that they had just taken part in something special,
and the 2005 Glyndebourne production of 'Gilulio Cesare' came to mind, another almost
faultless interpretation which has since become an operatic classic on DVD.
In terms of pure operatic production, this recording of Don Giovanni, along with the above
mentioned Handel masterpiece represent all what is great and eternal about 18th century
opera, where mortal beings appear to be taken over by the influence of immortal genius,
and, as a result, assist in a kind of life-enhancing force which could well be envisaged
as being a reason for life itself. If in doubt please buy this DVD and become a willing
sacrifice to the divine force and power which is 18th century opera.

Kind Hearts And Coronets [DVD]
Kind Hearts And Coronets [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dennis Price
Offered by HalfpriceDVDS_FBA
Price: £14.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sixty Years Old and Still Nothing to Touch It., 19 July 2009
Even if it had only just been made, Kind Hearts and Coronets would,
I believe be viewed as a modern classic, which just shows how far
ahead of its time this timeless masterpiece really was.
The concept of 'Black Comedy' could well have been invented
soley to describe this film. Of all the classic Ealing comidies
made at the time, Kind Hearts is the only one to be set in the past,
a situation which seems to enhance the film's stance, giving it a
sense of greater comic range and freedom.

Apart from Alex Guinness and his highly acclaimed portrayal of
eight different characters, it is Dennis Price in the role of
Louis Mazzini who manages to create an Anti-Hero of the first
order. Price succeeds in bringing out all of his character's
icy indifference and aloof sardonic wit in a performance which
should have been the starting point for a great career for Price,
however, after reaching such heights in this film the rest of his
career proved to be something of an anti-climax.
The casting of Valerie Hobson and Joan Greenwood in the
female roles also proved to be inspirational, each one adding
an extra dimension to the film's amorous side.

One great appeal of this film has always been its depiction of
so many facets of a society in which an anxious aristocracy
seems unsure of itself in regard to prevailing bourgeois values
and attitude. This situation is wonderfully highlighted during
the funeral of one of Mazzini's victims: after the funeral
service the Duke, with little tact or sensitivity, boasts of
the benifits of having a family vault and at the same time pours
scorn on the new system of cremation- 'Great thing having one's
own family vault, keeps the riff raff out. Now you take this
new cremation nonsense, who wants to put their nearest and
dearest into an incinerator?'.

There are many other examples of timeless black comedy at its
best, especially when the film is reaching its conclusion and
Mazzini himself attains new levels of self-assured aloofness
and amoral murderous intent which underpin the film's
subversive outlook. In addiction, there are examples of subtle
provocative humour which are years ahead of their time, and an
aria from the 'Opera of All Operas' which serves as the film's
prevailing theme music result in one of the most inspired
cinematic masterpieces worthy to be regarded as a piece of art.

O Lucky Man!: The Original Soundtrack - Music And Songs By Alan Price
O Lucky Man!: The Original Soundtrack - Music And Songs By Alan Price
Offered by Japan-Select
Price: £42.93

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alan Price- A Rock & Roll John Gay!, 8 Jun. 2009
An exceptional classic of a soundtrack album.
After years of success covering other peoples' works,
Alan Price proved with this album, his ability to
compose entertaining songs which are combined with heartfelt
passion and biting socail comment.
Rarely can lyrics have matched so well the whole feel and
mood of a film in which there is an overriding sense of
social amorality and blindness to the corrosiveness of overt
materialistic values. Price's lyrics succeed in conveying the
whole mood of the film by tingeing his lyrics with bleak
humour reminiscent of a prime John Gay.
The seventh track entitled simply 'Justice' would have done
Gay himself or even Bertolt Brecht proud.

The drawback of this CD is of course the fact that it lasts
only 25 minutes. However, when viewed in the context of the
quality of the music and song writing ability of a somewhat
undervalued talent from Rock's Golden Age, such a drawback
should be overlooked.

Highly recommenable album despite its duration and well
deserving of a four star rating.

Live At The Filmore East
Live At The Filmore East
Offered by samurai_media_JPN4UK
Price: £49.52

4.0 out of 5 stars A Live Album of Classic Renditions and an Unsurpassable Encore, 16 May 2009
Of all the celebrated British Rock/Blues Bands of the Late 60s and
early 70s 'Ten Years After' are surely one of the most undervalued.
Their particular form of Blues inspired Rock was notable for its
Jazz elements, which can be experienced fully on the classic and
groundbreaking 'Undead' album. In-between the 'Undead' album and
'Live at Filmore East' the Band appeared at the 1969 'Woodstock
Festival' and, as a result, the Band's musical approach became
more Rock orientated, although the fast playing guitar
showmanship would remain an eternal feature of the Band's
stage act.

The tracks which deserve special mention are 'Good Morning Little
Schoolgirl,' which has always been a Live favourite, and here,
it is given the usual heads down, none compromising performance.
Another Live favourite, 'I Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes'
is given first-class treatment, highlighting the Band's status
as being first and foremost a Live-Band. However, it is the
second disc which places this album into the top division of
classic Live-Rock recordings- starting with an intensely heavy,
but rewarding 'Help Me,' we then have a routine but pleasing
'I'm Going Home,' followed by great renditions of two Chuck
Berry classics, 'Sweet Little 16' and 'Roll Over Beethoven'
which lead us into an elaborate and mind blowing climax.
The ever popular 'I Woke Up This Morning' is Blues orienated
hard Rock at its best, and in this instance the audience are
treated to an outpouring of heavy Blues which represents
positive, self-indulgent music making at its best.
The best however, waits until last, when, as an encore the
Band reach new heights in Live-musical improvisation with a
rendition of 'Spoonful,' eight minutes of sublime electric
intensity where the term musical improvisation seems to take
on a new dimension, leaving audience and listener in a state
of rapturous fulfilment.

On the whole then, we have a classic Live album from the
golden age of guitar based Live recordings with an unsurpassable
encore and climax which brings new meaning to the concept of
musical entertainment.

Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) -- Zurich/Harnoncourt [DVD] [2006]
Mozart: Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) -- Zurich/Harnoncourt [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Zurich Opera
Offered by SeeDeez
Price: £48.93

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Somewhat Static but Indispensable Figaro, 14 May 2009
This 1996 prodution from the Zurich Opera House has a lot to recomend
it. First of all, Carlos Chausson as Figaro and Isabel Rey as
Susanna make a convincing couple in the most traditional musical sense,
as do Elisabeth Von Magnus as Marcellina and Robert Holl as Bartolo.
Von Magnus does appear to be remarkably youthful, a situation
which somewhat reduces the character's credibility without however,
reducing the First Act's sense of realism.
The feeling of watching a somewhat static performance is enhanced by
the arrival of Cherubino, played by an extremely boyish and erotic
looking Liliana Nikiteanu, whose entrance is more laconic and
self-assured than is the case with the majority of productions of
this opera which I have encountered on DVD.
That said, Nikiteanu continues to give a performance that reflects
her character's state of impassioned infatuation imbued with an
appearance which could well mirror the sensual effect to which
this Cherubino himself is subject to.
Rodney Gilfry as Almaviva acts and sings as if born to the role.
His portrayal of the Count's arrogance and sexual frustration
must rank amongst the best ever recorded.

Although everyone appears to be dressed in period costume,
there is still a sense of delocation with the whole production,
perhaps this is the result of having to look at decorating
equipment during the course of the opera.
This type of stage-scenery has been used in other produtions of
this work, and the conclusion to be drawn from this is that the
redecoration in progress in the opera resembles the impending
social upheaval which would soon engulf the whole structure of
ruling class thought and action.

All things considered, this DVD represents an enjoyable account
of this timeless masterpiece and is well worth the money if only
to experience a definitive Cherubino and an impressive Count.
A Four Star rating well deserved.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 29, 2013 12:08 AM BST

Mozart: La Clemenza Di Tito [DVD] [2006]
Mozart: La Clemenza Di Tito [DVD] [2006]
Dvd ~ Mozart

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A modern Tito setting new standards, 25 April 2009
It is surprising to note that there are at least half a dozen
productons of this opera currently available on DVD, a situation
which, I would suggest refutes the notion that this underrared
masterpiece is just a rushed and second rate piece from Mozart's
operatic repertoire. Although the opera itself may lack dramatic
imagination and truly credible characters, the music contained
in this work is often first-rate Mozart, interfused with moments
of heartflet emotion and subtly beauty.

I believe that this opera's strength stems from its imperfection,
as opposed to the Da Ponte operas where supreme musical perfection
can sometimes overshadow the essential human element.
This is highlighted during the duets between Sesto and Vitellia,
and Annio and Servilia when the great music of this work succeeds
in portraying the impassioned fragility of the two sets of lovers.
And at the centre of the whole piece we have Tito himself,
an isolated ruler who is only just too aware of the repressive
burdens of state and duty which just add to his emotional
distancing from the outside world. Michael Schade in the title
role, succceeds in highlighting Tito's personality in regard to
his subjects, it is a personality that reflects the reality of any
situation in which a ruler has to balance a sense of personal
loyalty towards close friends on the one hand, and the overriding
sense of duty towards matters concerning the well being of the state
on the other.

The casting of the other parts appeared on the whole to have been
inspirational. Dorothea Roschmann makes a very credible if
somewhat over-eager Vitellia. Vitellia's parnter in crime, Sesto,
is played by the ever-reliable Vesselina Kasarova, a renowned
master of the 'Trouser Role' whose shear androgynous presence
usually lends great weight to any operatic production in which
this form of character is required. As far as I am concerned
however, it is Elina Garanca in the role of Annio who makes
the greatest impression both visually and in terms of interaction
with the other characters. This is most evident during the Act One
duet between Annio and Servilia {played by a convincing Barbara
Bonney} when both singers tenderly reflect the delicate emotionality
of both characters through great singing and simply but subtle
acting, which gives the whole duet a sense of spiritual as well as
physical eroticism.

The concept of turning the stage into a kind of giant Doll's House
tends on the whole to portray the mood of isolation running through
this production, however, such a concept was counterproductive
during the Act One finale when, in most productions all the
protaginists are brought together to unite in their sense of
despair, thereby adding to the emotional impact of the music.
By having the main characters in different boxes this impact
was somewhat negated. Such a situation is just a minor drawback
in an otherwise first-class production, enhanced by great sound
and a good choice of subtitles. All in all, highly recommendable
enterainment and another fine example of the power of 18th century
opera to stimulate, arouse and enlighten mankind in such a
way that makes it hard to refute the theory that 'The best things
in Life really are Desire and the Music of the 18th Century'.

Handel: Handel: Orlando [DVD] [2008] [NTSC]
Handel: Handel: Orlando [DVD] [2008] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Handel
Price: £29.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Golden Triumph for Zurich Opera, 24 Jan. 2009
Once again Zurich Opera has proved itself to be truly inspiring and
imaginative with this first-class production of one of the world's
greatest and most underrated operatic masterpieces.
It is hard to believe that there is another large Opera House in
the world which regularly serves every operatic taste in such a
breathtakingly superb manner in which an audience is given such
an irrestible feeling of belonging.

Orlando itself is a work which Handel composed in the 1730's
along with 'Ariodante' and 'Alcina' and, musically speaking,
it must rank amongst his finest crations.
The dominant theme of madness caused by love is well served
by the concept of updating the opera to a kind of 20th Century
psychiatric hospital, where all four love-sick protagonists
undergo various emotional trials and tests of character in
regard to their long-felt or delusional desires.

Marijuana Mijanovic in the title role brings just amount the
right amount of unhinged pathos and childlike confusion to
her part, this is most evident during Orlando's famous Act
One aria: 'Fammi combattere.' Of the other singers mention
has to be made of the opera's other trouser role part,
that of Medoro, played by Katharina Peetz, whose masculine
seductiveness is superbly combined with an erotic androgynous
presence. This is most evident during the great trio for
three sopranos: 'Consolati, o bella.' It is during this trio
that the characters at the centre of a love triangle are
gloriously exposed in all thier human frailty through music of
such tender subtlety, as to suggest why are such operatic
masterpieces such as Orlando so often neglected by so-called
renowned opera companies, which prefer to pander to bourgeois
musical taste in order to sell tickets fast?

On the whole then, this prodution of Orlando is another fine
example of Zurich Opera's diverse and imaginative use of the
operatic repertoire, combined with excellent sound and a varied
choice of subtitles. As is usual with any production of an
18th Century opera performed by Zurich Opera a five star rating
is well-deserved. May the good work continue.

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