Naxos Audiovisual Division March 2024

This month’s new audiovisual releases include a glorious and rare recording of Nielsen’s opera Maskarade in a production that is genuinely funny (often an elusive quality). There’s also an innovative production of Wagner’s Die Walküre featuring conductor Sir Donald Runnicles at the helm of an internationally acclaimed cast; and a new staging of Busoni’s opera Doktor Faust that marks the centenary of the composer’s death. Finally, we have a number of dance, drama and opera productions from Opus Arte’s Critics’ Choice collection, which features many of the classic, innovative and perhaps less well-known productions that the label has long been renowned for.

2.110762 [DVD]

Carl NIELSEN (1865–1931)
(sung in German)
Comic opera in three acts (1906)
Libretto by Vilhelm Andersen based on a comedy by Ludvig Holberg
New German translation by Martin G. Berger

Monika Buczkowska, Susan Bullock, Sopranos
Michael Porter, Tenor • Liviu Holender, Baritone • Alfred Reiter, Bass
Chor der Oper Frankfurt • Frankfurter Opern- und Museumsorchester
Titus Engel, Conductor
Tobias Kratzer, Stage director

Nielsen’s Maskarade is regarded as Denmark’s national opera. It combines folk-song character, Mozartean elegance and virtuoso surprises to create what conductor Titus Engel describes as ‘musical comedy that’s both witty and of the highest calibre’. Based on an 18th–century play by Ludvig Holberg, the story revolves around Leander and Leonora who meet at a masquerade ball, swear undying love, and then have to deal with the complicated consequences of their situation, all accompanied by Nielsen’s irresistibly sparkling score. This acclaimed contemporary staging from Oper Frankfurt is sung in a new German translation and directed by Tobias Kratzer.

Also available on Blu-ray Video (NBD0174V)

2.110741-42 [DVD]

Richard WAGNER (1813–1883)
Die Walküre

Nina Stemme, Elisabeth Teige, Sopranos
Brandon Jovanovich, Tenor • Iain Paterson, Bass-baritone
Orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin
Sir Donald Runnicles, Conductor
Stefan Herheim, Stage director

Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (‘The Ring of the Nibelung’) comprises four operas of which Die Walküre (‘The Valkyrie’) is the second, famous for its spectacular set-pieces such as the Ride of the Valkyries and Wotan’s Farewell. The plot focuses on the lovers Siegmund and Sieglinde and on the disobedience of the Valkyrie Brünnhilde, who defi es the edict of Fricka, the goddess of marriage, to punish them. With Die Walküre Wagner achieved a perfect synthesis of poetry and music. Sir Donald Runnicles conducts an internationally acclaimed cast in this innovative new production by Norwegian director Stefan Herheim.

Also available on Blu-ray Video (NBD0158V)

DYN-37998 [DVD]

Ferruccio BUSONI (1866–1924)
Doktor Faust
Completed by Philipp Jarnach (1925)
Libretto by Ferruccio Busoni drawn from the homonymous puppet show

Dietrich Henschel • Daniel Brenna
Orchestra e Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Cornelius Meister, Conductor • Davide Livermore, Director

Doktor Faust was left incomplete at the time of Busoni’s death. Intended as his masterpiece, the opera’s genesis was complex and long. Based on Goethe’s tragic play, the story of Faust’s pact with the devil is well known but the opera’s structure represents Busoni’s unique conception, cast in two Prologues, a beautiful orchestral Intermezzo and three scenes. Exploring ideas of rationality and metaphysical doubt as well as the concepts of artifice and pretence inherent in operatic performance, the result is one of the most creative and unsettling of Busoni’s works.

Also available on Blu-ray Video (DYN-57998)

Opus Arte Critics’ Choice

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.

OA1304D [DVD]
[Opus Arte]

Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756–1791)
Die Zauberflöte

David Portillo • Sofia Fomina • Brindley Sherratt
Bjö Bürger • Caroline Wettergreen
The Glyndebourne Chorus • Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment
Ryan Wigglesworth • Barbe & Doucet

One of Mozart’s most enchanting works, Die Zauberflöte is a fairy tale that uses familiar archetypes to ask provocative and difficult questions about religion, the nature of power, the bonds of family, and of course love.

Premiered just months before Mozart’s death, Die Zauberflöte in many ways represents a new departure for the composer. Catching the spirit of revolution in the air, Mozart turned his attention for the first time from court opera to popular opera, writing this singspiel (‘sungplay’) for a new and much broader audience.

Also available on Blu-ray Video (OABD7268D)

OA1328D [DVD]
[Opus Arte]

Written by John Gay in 1728, The Beggar's Opera is widely considered to be the first musical comedy, and one that pre-empted by about 300 years the current vogue for ‘jukebox’ productions, which create a plot to fit around hit songs. Gay took some of the best-known tunes of his day, both classical and popular, and worked them into a savagely satirical tale set amongst London's thieves, pimps and prostitutes.

Wildly popular from its first performance in 1728, it has been the basis for numerous stage, musical and cinematic adaptations ever since. It explores a cynical world where capitalist greed, crime and social inequality are the norm. Robert Carsen’s new take on this classic is indeed ‘A brilliant tour de force between baroque and modernity.’ (Libération)

Also available on Blu-ray Video (OABD7283D)

OA1364D [DVD]
[Opus Arte]


Gene Kelly and Christopher Hampson
Scottish Ballet Orchestra
Jean-Claude Picard, Conductor • Oscar Sansom, Director

Inspired by Gene Kelly’s iconic work in Hollywood, Starstruck, winner of the 2022 Best Dance Film Award at the National Dance Awards, brings an immersive, theatrical experience, in which audiences around the world can escape with us to the glamour and grace of Paris, 1960.

One of the first choreographers to bring the ‘American style’ to Europe, the legendary Gene Kelly was invited to create an original work for the Paris Opera Ballet in 1960. His jazzy, joyful Pas de Dieux was highly acclaimed at the time as ‘a breath of fresh air’ but has been rarely performed since. It has now been given a new set of wings for its life on stage and screen.

Also available on Blu-ray Video (OABD7311D)

OA1353D [DVD]
[Opus Arte]

William SHAKESPEARE (1564–1616)
The Merry Wives of Windsor

Hedydd Dylan • Sarah Finigan • Bryony Hannah • Richard Katz
Joshua Lacey • Forbes Masson • Anne Odeke • Jude Owusu
Pearce Quigley • Anita Reynolds • Boadicea Ricketts • Dickon Tyrrell • Zach Wyatt
Elle While, Director

Double-meanings, disguises and dirty laundry abound as Sir John Falstaff sets about improving his financial situation by wooing Mistress Page and Mistress Ford. But the ‘Merry Wives’ quickly cotton on to his tricks and decide to have a bit of fun of their own at Falstaff’s expense…

The Merry Wives of Windsor is the only comedy that Shakespeare set in his native land. Drawing influences from British 1930s fashion, music and dance, this production celebrates women, the power and beauty of nature, and with its witty mix of verbal and physical humour, rejoices in a tradition that reaches right down to the contemporary English sitcom.

OA1345D [DVD]
[Opus Arte]

Kes reimagined is a new film by award-winning choreographer Jonathan Watkins and International Emmy award-winning director Ross MacGibbon, based on the novel A Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines.

Jonathan Watkins’s acclaimed production was conceived and created for Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre in 2014.

Set in a Yorkshire mining community, this re-imagining of Hines’s tale told through dance and puppetry, takes us on a journey with the young working-class boy, Billy Casper. Billy is troubled at home and at school but his outlook on life is transformed when he finds and trains a kestrel. As the beloved Kes swoops and spins in the expansive freedom of the Yorkshire countryside, Billy’s self-confidence begins to soar, and boy and bird become one.

Also available on Blu-ray Video (OABD7296D)

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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