Milestones in stage drama hallmark our audiovisual releases this month. A thrilling production of Wagner's four-opera Ring cycle by the Sofia Opera and Ballet fuses daring visual language with overwhelming musical intensity, while Cavalieri's 1600 Rappresentatione di Anima et di Corpo, representing the roots of the genre as the first surviving opera, stuns in Robert Carson's acclaimed production. Also dating from the early 17th century, Monteverdi's three surviving operas are presented as a trilogy by a world-class team of casts and creatives, headed by John Eliot Gardiner. Finally, an axe-wielding murderer is the centrality of Max Frisch's 1951 drama Graf Öderland, presented in Stefan Bachmann's production as a musical, nightmarish trip with powerful theatrical imagery.
Emilio de’ Cavalieri’s Rappresentatione di Anima et di Corpo was premiered in 1600 in Rome. It was conceived to be performed in costume, bringing text and music together in a dramatic form, and is accepted as the first surviving opera, pre-dating works by Peri and Monteverdi. Its theme is the dialogue of Soul and Body, a pivotal concept of the Italian Counter-Reformation, presented in allegorical form. This production by the acclaimed director Robert Carsen was hailed as ‘an unmitigated, tremendous success’ and its ‘musical production was extraordinary’ (bachtrack.com).
Also available in Blu-ray Video (NBD0161V)
A collector’s box set at a special price.
Richard Wagner’s extraordinary cycle of four operas, Der Ring des Nibelungen, is epic in every sense of the word. Its story revolves around the legendary quest for a magical ring that can grant power to rule the world, with gods, heroes, heroines and mythical characters becoming embroiled in a world of passionate emotions, hard-won triumphs, and the deepest of tragedies. Sofia Opera’s acclaimed productions bring Wagner’s shimmering and opulent vision to life in a spectacle that is thrilling from beginning to end in both its daring visual language and its overwhelming musical intensity.
Also available in Blu-ray Video (DYN-57964)
2017 marked the 450th anniversary of the birth of Claudio Monteverdi – one of the founders of opera and hailed in his day as ‘the creator of modern music’. Monteverdi transformed vocal music beyond Renaissance polyphony into an entirely new genre that expressed powerful feelings and emotions within a gripping narrative. This set brings together Monteverdi’s three surviving operas: the splendorous L’Orfeo and, from later in his life, Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria and L’incoronazione di Poppea with their visceral passions and dramatic dilemmas, all elements that have animated the history of opera for centuries. John Eliot Gardiner’s acclaimed Monteverdi 450 series of semi-staged performances produced in Venice’s historical Teatro La Fenice is a living confirmation that Monteverdi ‘will be sighed for in later ages, for his compositions will surely outlive the ravages of time.’
Also available in Blu-ray Video (OABD7300BD)
A bank clerk bludgeons a janitor to death: with no reason, no motive, just like that. This murderer and his ‘senseless’ deed totally derail the general prosecutor whose job it is to bring the charge. In a mad rush, he leaves his well-ordered existence and becomes an axe-wielding murderer, initiating a bloody movement against the socio-political status quo.
Stefan Bachmann stages Frisch’s drama as a highly musical nightmarish trip with powerful imagery, giving full scope to the suggestive power of the theatre.