July sees the release of four outstanding audiovisual productions representing three eras of opera and a showcase of the career of one of the Royal Ballet's most illustrious recent stars.
The incomparable John Eliot Gardiner applies his notable skills as musical director to two operatic masterpieces, by Monteverdi and Verdi, while Oper Graz's production of Mieczysław Weinberg’s powerful Holocaust drama Die Passagierin does sterling service to “one of the most important and most brilliantly composed operas of the 20th century.” (Online Merker) Finally, the Royal Ballet presents five outstanding performances by Lauren Cuthbertson, one of the world’s leading ballerinas.
Mieczysław Weinberg’s powerful Holocaust drama Die Passagierin channels his and his family’s ordeals of wartime and Soviet persecution, applying them musically to Zofia Posmysz’s autobiographical novel. The score was praised by Shostakovich for its ‘beauty and greatness’, with a narrative that unfolds on an ocean liner bound for Brazil on which a former Auschwitz guard and one of her Polish prisoners confront impossible moral conflict and harrowing flashbacks in music that is sparse, dark, sardonic and intermittently tender. This acclaimed Oper Graz production draws us movingly into the raw unimaginable madness of this imperishable moment in history.
Also available in Blu-ray Video (NBD0144V)
Falstaff was composed to a libretto fashioned by Arrigo Boito largely from Shakespeare’s play The Merry Wives of Windsor. Superficially the work is an opera buffa in its depiction of the travails of the penniless knight, Sir John Falstaff, but goes beyond the operatic tradition of the time. The vocal line is integrated into the orchestral texture, and with self-quotations and parodic elements, the opera is saturated with as much irony as comedy, forming the fitting culmination of Verdi’s entire operatic life. Sir John Eliot Gardiner conducts this acclaimed staging of Verdi’s final masterpiece.
Claudio Monteverdi developed the principles of opera with L’Orfeo in the first decade of the 17th century. At the very end of his life, he wrote L’incoronazione di Poppea. The opera marked a decisive move from allegorical and mythic elements towards a historical subject – the love affair between the Roman Emperor Nero and his mistress Poppea. Monteverdi’s final masterpiece, where the beauty of the arias vanquished the decadence of the storyline, was first performed in the year of his death. For decades John Eliot Gardiner has been at the forefront of Monteverdi performance and scholarship, and for the 450th anniversary of Monteverdi’s birth in 2017 he conducted all three of the composer’s surviving full-length operas. This semi-staged production, recorded in Venice’s historical Teatro La Fenice is part of that acclaimed cycle.
Also available in Blu-ray Video (OABD7297D)
Since joining The Royal Ballet in 2002, Lauren Cuthbertson has become a much-loved member of the Company and this special boxed set showcases why – combining five outstanding performances by one of the world’s leading ballerinas.
This collection includes two iconic roles she created for The Royal Ballet: the fun-filled, eponymous Alice (“the part she was born to play.” The Daily Telegraph) in Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; and Jacqueline du Pré in the biographical work The Cellist by Cathy Marston. The latter is paired with Frederick Ashton’s delightful The Two Pigeons in a new collection created especially for this box. Finally, two all-time classics feature Cuthbertson as the Sugar-Plum Fairy in Peter Wright’s magical production of The Nutcracker, and then as a heart-breaking Juliet in Kenneth MacMillan’s signature work, Romeo and Juliet.