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Naxos Audiovisual Division April 2024

Three opera productions of stellar quality head our new audiovisual releases this month. Wagner aficionados can relish a performance of Siegfried in ‘a stunning production, a visual knockout with an international cast of the best singers available today.’ (The WholeNote); Tchaikovsky’s The Enchantress dazzles with outstanding performances by soprano Asmik Grigorian and baritone Iain Mac Neil, described respectively as ‘a miracle’ and ‘world class’ by Neue Musikzeitung; and one of Donizetti’s first successes, L’aio nell’imbarazzo (A tutor in a jam!), can be enjoyed in ‘a brilliant, flawless, winning performance.’ (L’eco di Bergamo) Finally, we have an incredible new Donmar Warehouse production of Shakespeare’s Henry V, featuring Kit Harington in the title role, that was hailed as ‘violent, devastating, and astonishing in its power.’ (The I) Additionally, there are four titles from Opus Arte’s Critics’ Choice Collector’s Edition to peruse.

2.110743-44 [DVD]

Richard WAGNER (1813–1883)

Nina Stemme, Soprano
Clay Hilley, Ya-Chung Huang, Tenors
Iain Paterson, Bass-baritone
Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin
Sir Donald Runnicles, Conductor
Stefan Herheim, Stage director

Siegfried is the third of the four operas that comprise Wagner’s epic tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen (‘The Ring of the Nibelung’). Siegfried, raised by the evil dwarf Mime, discovers that he is the son of Siegmund and Sieglinde. He must negotiate betrayals and dangers in a landscape of dragons and magic in order to kill Fafner, who has the Ring, as well as Mime, who has designs on it. Finally, in music of resplendent drama, Siegfried, the hero who knows no fear, can penetrate the ring of fire to awaken the sleeping Valkyrie, Brünnhilde. Sir Donald Runnicles conducts an internationally acclaimed cast in this innovative new production by Norwegian director Stefan Herheim.

Also available on Blu-ray Video (NBD0159V)

2.110768-69 [DVD]

Pyotr Il’yich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840–1893)
The Enchantress
Opera in four acts (1887)
Libretto by Ippolit Shpazhinsky (1844–1917)

Asmik Grigorian, Soprano
Claudia Mahnke, Zanda Švēde, Mezzo-sopranos
Alexander Mikhailov, Tenor • Iain MacNeil, Baritone
Frederic Jost, Bass
Chor der Oper Frankfurt
Frankfurter Opern- und Museumsorchester
Valentin Uryupin, Conductor
Vasily Barkhatov, Stage director

Originally set in the 15th century, Tchaikovsky’s The Enchantress is updated to the present day in this innovative production. The charismatic, emancipated Nastasya, who rejects the advances of the devious Mamïrov, duly faces the implacable forces of traditional values in a society riven by divisions between liberal freedoms and religious orthodoxies. The tragic outcome engulfs everyone. This production was a triumphant success – ‘At the end, storms of enthusiasm, the likes of which are rare even at Oper Frankfurt’ (Neue Musikzeitung) – both for the staging and performers, with soprano Asmik Grigorian hailed as a ‘miracle’ and baritone Iain MacNeil as ‘world class’.

Also available on Blu-ray Video (NBD0180V)

DYN-37993 [DVD]

Gaetano DONIZETTI (1797–1848)
L’aio nell’imbarazzo

Alessandro Corbelli • Alex Esposito
Orchestra e Coro Donizetti Opera
Vincenzo Milletarì, Conductor • Francesco Micheli, Director

Gaetano Donizetti’s comic opera L’aio nell’imbarazzo or A tutor in a jam! was greeted with wild enthusiasm at its Rome premiere in 1824 and became one of the composer’s first great successes both in Italy and abroad. Modelled on operas by Rossini but already displaying the psychological depths of Donizetti’s mature work, this is a narrative in which, shielded from female company, the overprotected sons of a strict Marquis are entrusted to their tutor Don Gregorio. Of course, everything unravels into emotional chaos in the best opera buffa tradition, with its universal themes of romance and social politics colourfully set in 2042.

Also available on Blu-ray Video (DYN-57993)

OA1377D [DVD]
[Opus Arte]

William SHAKESPEARE (1564–1616)
Henry V

Kit Harington
Jude Akuwudike • Seumas Begg • Claire-Louise Cordwell • Kate Duchêne
Olivier Huband • Melissa Johns • David Judge • Danny Kirrane
Diany Samba-Bandza • Adam Maxey • Steven Meo
Marienella Phillips • Joanna Songi • Millicent Wong
Max Webster, Director

Kit Harington (Game of Thrones) plays the title role in Shakespeare’s thrilling study of nationalism, war and the psychology of power.

Fresh to the throne, King Henry V launches England into a bloody war with France. When his campaign encounters resistance, this inexperienced new ruler must prove he is fit to guide a country to war.

Captured live from the Donmar Warehouse in London, this exciting modern production directed by Max Webster (Life of Pi) explores what it means to be English and our relationship to Europe, asking: do we ever get the leaders we deserve?

The Opus Arte Critics’ Choice series is a diverse range of titles featuring some of the most acclaimed recordings in the label’s catalogue at a very special price. In this series we celebrate many famous classics while also revisiting some of the more innovative, original and perhaps less well-known productions that the label has long been renowned for showcasing. All the new Critics’ Choice releases contain the beautifully designed, original artwork and colour booklets which, along with a new unique cover design uniting all the titles, makes them ideal for collectors.

OA0992D [DVD]
[Opus Arte]

Ferdinand HÉROLD (1791–1833)
La fille mal gardée
Arranged by John Lanchbery

Marianela Nuñez • Carlos Acosta • William Tuckett
The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Anthony Twiner, Conductor

This is a charming piece, elegantly performed, a village love affair set in the idyllic Constable landscape of Ashton’s imagination. Marianela Nuñez and Carlos Acosta would be show-stoppers in almost any suitable role, but as Lise and Colas they are superb. William Tuckett and Jonathan Howells, in the comic roles of Simone and Alain respectively, are every bit as arresting, both displaying a certain genius for knockabout. The luminously colourful Osbert Lancaster designs, together with the vitality of The Royal Ballet’s dancing and vibrant playing from the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House under the baton of Anthony Twiner, serve to augment the harmless good fun at which Ashton excels.

La fille mal gardée, first presented in 1789, is the oldest and one of the most important works in the modern ballet repertory. There have been many revivals throughout the centuries, but Sir Frederick Ashton’s version for The Royal Ballet, which premiered in 1960, is widely regarded as the “traditional” version and has become a much celebrated classic of the ballet repertory.

Also available on Blu-ray Video (OABD7021D)

OA1262D [DVD]
[Opus Arte]

Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901)
Il trovatore

Gregory Kunde • Lianna Haroutounian • Vitaly Bilyy • Anita Rachvelishvili
Royal Opera Chorus • Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Richard Farnes, Conductor • David Bösch, Director

Verdi’s opera of passion, blood, fire and vengeance comes to the stage in an atmospheric production by David Bösch. A quartet of world-class singers bring the principal characters of this searing opera to life. Gregory Kunde stars as the troubadour Manrico, with Lianna Haroutounian as his courageous lover Leonora. Vitaliy Bilyy is the tyrannical Count di Luna, the man who wants Leonora for himself, and Anita Rachvelishvili is Azucena, the mysterious gypsy woman unable to reveal the secret that torments her. Richard Farnes conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and Royal Opera Chorus in this exploration of love, cruelty, intense passion and revenge.

Also available on Blu-ray Video (OABD7238D)

OA1100D [DVD]
[Opus Arte]

Sergey PROKOFIEV (1891–1953)
Romeo and Juliet

Lauren Cuthbertson • Federico Bonelli
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Barry Wordsworth, Conductor • Kenneth MacMillan, Choreographer

Given its premiere by The Royal Ballet in 1965 with Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn dancing the title roles, Kenneth MacMillan’s first full-evening ballet has become a signature work for the Company, enjoying great popularity around the world. From the outset, the production teems with life and colour as the townspeople, market traders and servants of the rival Montagues and Capulets go about their daily business in vibrant crowd scenes. But Romeo and Juliet take centre stage for those great pas de deux: the meeting in the ballroom, the balcony scene, the morning after the wedding and the final devastating tomb scene. Although The Royal Ballet has performed Romeo and Juliet over 400 times, each performance and pairing is subtly different, and Lauren Cuthbertson and Federico Bonelli are utterly captivating in the title roles. This performance was broadcast live from Covent Garden to cinemas worldwide.

Also available on Blu-ray Video (OABD7116D)

OA1223D [DVD]
[Opus Arte]

William SHAKESPEARE (1564–1616)
The Tempest

Harriet Walter
Jade Anouka • Sheila Atim • Jackie Clune
Leah Harvey • Sophie Stanton • Carolina Valdés
Phyllida Lloyd, Director

The final instalment in the Donmar Warehouse’s all-female Shakespeare Trilogy sees Harriet Walter take on the role of Prospero in this evocation of the eternal struggle for freedom, morality and justice.

Directed for both stage and screen by Phyllida Lloyd. Set on an isle ‘full of noises’, this magical production features a glowing score by Joan Armatrading. Critics celebrated the original staging as ‘A glorious reminder that genuine diversity offers astonishing creative benefits’.

The Donmar Shakespeare Trilogy began in 2012 with an all-female production of Julius Caesar led by Dame Harriet Walter. Set in a women’s prison, the production asked the question, ‘Who owns Shakespeare?’ Two further productions followed: Henry IV in 2014 and The Tempest in 2016, all featuring a diverse company of women. The Trilogy enthralled theatre audiences in London and New York and was shared with women and girls in prisons and schools across the UK. The film versions were shot live in a specially built temporary theatre in King’s Cross in 2016, and now offer screen audiences unique access to these ground-breaking productions.

To stream a collection of selected audiovisual releases on Amazon Prime Video, follow this link or click on the Amazon Prime video logo.

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