Four fine productions from celebrated European opera houses comprise this month’s set of new audiovisual releases. Dutch National Opera presents Humperdinck’s Königskinder in a latter-day revival of the work featuring the hallmark creativity of Christof Loy, one of the most sought-after opera and theatre directors of his generation. From London’s Royal Opera we have Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, arguably the greatest comic opera ever written, while Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream can be enjoyed in Peter Hall’s 1981 Glyndebourne production, ‘regarded by many as the definitive staging of the work.’ (The Guardian) Finally, from Italy’s renowned opera festival the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, we have a wonderful production of Verdi’s Ernani, that immediately captivated audiences and critics alike following its premiere in 1844, and continues to do so!
Hänsel und Gretel brought Humperdinck worldwide fame but his tragic fairy story Königskinder (‘The King’s Children’) offers a stark contrast to it and has only begun to be revived in recent years. The doomed love of a goose girl and a prince – as they battle prejudice and are obstructed by magic – ends in their loving deaths, and with it a rebuke to the villagers who rejected them. This acclaimed production by the renowned German director Christof Loy features the award-winning singers – tenor Daniel Behle and Ukrainian soprano Olga Kulchynska.
Also available in Blu-ray Video (NBD0171V)
Based on a play by Victor Hugo, Verdi’s Ernani was an immediate success, and as his most popular and frequently performed opera it became a cornerstone of his burgeoning reputation in the mid-1800s. Contemporary critics remarked that ‘coming out of the theatre, people were already singing [those] catchy tunes … Few scores have made a stronger, more powerful impression.’ Ernani is a dramatic and intensely memorable tale of rebellion and romance – the chilling presence of the man in black and the drama of a joyful wedding turned to intense tragedy remains one of Verdi’s most compelling operatic creations. This acclaimed production was the first to be staged at the Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino since 1965.
Also available in Blu-ray Video (DYN-57972)
Glyndebourne’s production of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream is pure magic. Brilliantly adapted from Shakespeare’s play, the opera follows the adventures of four lovers and a group of naïve rustics who, in a wood on a moonstruck midsummer night, fall foul of Oberon and Tytania, the quarrelling king and queen of the fairies. In Peter Hall’s remarkable staging, the very wood comes alive as logs and trees move and rustle, creating ambiguous silhouettes in the dark mysterious woodland, lit only by designer John Bury’s wonderful rising sun and moon.
‘The perfect Britten opera for this Sussex countryside setting.’ – The Times
From the headlong rush of the overture, Mozart’s timeless comedy is a breathless journey through one very eventful day in the life of an 1830s château. Figaro and his bride Susanna conspire to foil the unwanted advances of Count Almaviva, while the Countess has her heart stolen by a cross-dressing pageboy. Mozart’s music unfolds with beautiful solos and ensembles to amplify the deep emotions behind the seemingly farcical surface.
Music Director of The Royal Opera Antonio Pappano brings his specialist perspective to Mozart’s effervescent score. A young and predominantly Italian cast, including Riccardo Fassi, Giulia Semenzato and Germán E. Alcántara, perform this revival of David McVicar’s sumptuous and hugely popular period staging.
Also available in Blu-ray Video (OABD7304D)