There’s a wonderful mix of new releases from our audiovisual catalogues this month, led by two splendid new opera productions: Lully’s Acis et Galatée, a pastorale héroïque and one of his final masterpieces, comes alive in a new production directed by Benjamin Lazar; and Offenbach’s light-hearted Périchole spotlights the real-life figure of Micaela Villegas, Lima’s leading theatrical lady in the 1770s when Peru was a Spanish colony. Handel’s greatest oratorio Theodora, a tour de force for soloists and chorus alike, is presented through the prism of Katie Mitchell’s probing, modern-day staging of the work.
In a completely different vein, Springtime in Amsterdam is a unique, joyful musical feature film created by stage director Christof Loy, world renowned for his work in international opera houses. Finally, there’s the Royal Shakespeare Company’s box set release of Shakespeare’s epic Henry VI trilogy, a dramatisation of one of the most turbulent periods in English history.
La Perricholi – in reality, Micaela Villegas – was Lima’s leading theatrical lady in the 1770s when Peru was a Spanish colony. Her life was fictionalised in a one-act play by Prosper Mérimée and a libretto was fashioned on which Offenbach created his opéra bouffe La Périchole, reflecting the creative mania in Paris at the time for Spanish life and art. La Périchole and Piquillo, her lover and companion in misfortune, are impoverished street singers. Meanwhile the Viceroy Don Andrès de Ribeira wishes to make her his lover. In music of vivacious rhythms including boleros, seguidillas and rich arias, Offenbach plays out their love against a broader social canvas.
Also available in Blu-ray Video (NBD0168V)
Springtime in Amsterdam is a joyful feature film created by director Christof Loy, world renowned for his work in international opera houses. Meeting accidentally in Amsterdam, a group of four people experience a series of confusions that must be resolved in 48 hours. A richly varied musical score that includes Viennese operetta, Dutch and French chansons, and songs from the American song book, is performed by a renowned cast of singers and conducted by Marko Letonja, well versed in popular music. In a magical dream world, dilemmas are resolved in this enchanting fable.
Also available in Blu-ray Video (NBD0169V)
Having been granted unprecedented authority by Louis XIV, the Sun King, no one could stage operas in France without Jean-Baptiste Lully’s permission. By 1686, however, Lully’s authority was waning and his long-standing librettist deserted him to write sacred works. Despite these setbacks, Lully wrote Acis et Galatée, a pastorale héroïque, and one of his final masterpieces. Its plot – the cyclops Poliphème’s love for the nymph Galatée – drew from Lully an astonishing alternation of effects, a profound monologue for the nymph in Act III and a magnificent concluding Passacaille, all framed by a succession of dances and vividly conceived choruses.
Also available in Blu-ray Video (DYN-57971)
Experience the thrill of rebellion, the brutality of battle, and ambition without boundaries in Shakespeare’s epic trilogy about one of the most turbulent periods in English history. This box set trilogy, available together for the first time on screen, includes:
Henry VI: Part One Filmed as a rehearsal run-through performance during the COVID-19 pandemic, Henry VI: Part One introduces us to a young and reclusive Henry, who is proclaimed King of England after the death of his father, Henry V. Directed by Gregory Doran and Owen Horsley.
Henry VI: Rebellion As fighting and division in the corridors of power continues, and Henry’s hold on the English throne wavers, ordinary men and women start to speak out. But as the people rise in protest, who is behind their rebellion? Directed by Owen Horsley.
Henry VI: Wars of the Roses In this thrilling climax, the tussle for the English crown escalates to the battlefield as the families of Lancaster and York drench their brutal conflict in sweat and blood. Directed by Owen Horsley.
Henry VI is a series of dramatic plays which contain fight scenes, scenes of murder, infanticide and death, brief male nudity, and beheading. There are themes of sadness with actors crying onstage, as well as betrayal and characters purposefully misleading one another.
Julia Bullock, Joyce DiDonato and Jakub Józef Orliński star in Katie Mitchell’s thrilling new production of Handel’s Theodora in an alternative modern-day reality. Theodora, a religious fundamentalist, plots for the resistance against the Roman occupation. But when her secret plan to destroy the Roman embassy is discovered, she learns the true brutality of her oppressors.
Not heard in Covent Garden since the 18th century and sung in the original English libretto by Thomas Morell, Theodora is a tour de force for soloists and chorus alike, with ensembles, duets and arias of profound depth and beauty. This new interpretation, conducted by Baroque specialist Harry Bicket, shines a new, feminist light on the story.
Also available in Blu-ray Video (OABD7313D)