This month’s audiovisual releases feature two opera-based albums: the first, a spectacular new staging of Verdi’s La Traviata under conductor Zubin Mehta; the second a behind-the-scenes exploration of the preparations undertaken by three world-class opera stars to capture the ‘Sacred Fire’ (Fuoco Sacro) behind the music in their roles. From the world of dance there’s a double bill from the Royal Ballet of both classic and contemporary creations, plus Scottish Ballet’s award-winning dance-film Starstruck, inspired by Gene Kelly’s iconic work in Hollywood. And for German speakers there’s a bumper, 10-DVD collection of drama classics, with cast lists that read like a Who’s Who of the German-language world of theatre.
Opera confronts us with extremes of emotion, sometimes delivering unforgettable, life-changing experiences. Fuoco Sacro (‘Sacred Fire’) seeks out singers who have the power to pierce our hearts, presenting three of them at work in the most intimate details of their rehearsals and preparations. Ermonela Jaho, Barbara Hannigan and Asmik Grigorian are watched closely as some of their secrets are revealed: how they inhabit their roles and transform words and notation on a page into that intangible but powerful magic being communicated to audiences from the opera stage. Over 90 minutes of extras are included featuring vocal warm-ups and live performances accompanied by pianists Evgenia Rubinova, Reinbert de Leeuw and Francesco Piemontesi.
Also available in Blu-ray Video (NBD0141V)
Giuseppe Verdi was well on the way towards renown and prosperity when he took up the story of Violetta, a famed courtesan whose intensely romantic and colourful but tragically brief life marked the emergence of realism into Italian opera. Verdi and Alexandre Dumas fils intended this melodrama to have a contemporary setting, and David Livermore’s stunning production maintains this wish by placing his elegant and powerful cast firmly into the 20th century. This alchemy of masterful acting, vivid bel canto voices and the vitality of Zubin Mehta’s conducting results in a triumphant and unforgettably poignant operatic experience.
This special DVD brings together two compelling works showing the dramatic range of Lauren Cuthbertson, and The Royal Ballet.
Internationally acclaimed choreographer Cathy Marston, previously Associate Artist of The Royal Opera House and Director of Bern Ballett, created The Cellist for The Royal Ballet in 2020. The inspiration for her first work for the Royal Opera House Main Stage is the momentous life and career of cellist Jacqueline du Pré – from her discovery of the cello and her celebrity as one of its most extraordinary players, to her pain, frustration and struggle with multiple sclerosis. Composer Philip Feeney incorporates some of the most moving and powerful music for cello by Elgar, Beethoven, Fauré, Mendelssohn, Piatti, Rachmaninoff and Schubert into an exquisite score that is itself an homage to the cello.
In The Two Pigeons, Lauren Cuthbertson and Vadim Muntagirov lead a charismatic cast in Frederick Ashton’s poignant and heart-warming reflection on love, based on an old French folk tale and first performed on Valentine’s Day 1961. Created by the Company’s Founder Choreographer, this recording captures The Royal Ballet’s famous skill and distinctive style as Barry Wordsworth conducts the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House in Messager’s rapturous score.
Also available in Blu-ray Video (OABD7310D)
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.
In collaboration with Kelly’s widow, Patricia Ward Kelly, Scottish Ballet’s CEO/Artistic Director Christopher Hampson and designer Lez Brotherston (The Snow Queen, The Secret Theatre) have lovingly revived the original ballet and added a delightful new twist. You’ll be transported into the world where jazz meets ballet, and the stars align.
Combining live performance capture with cinematic filming techniques and additional elements not seen in the stage production, Starstruck is directed for screen by Oscar Sansom (Dive), and produced in partnership with Forest of Black (The Secret Theatre).
Gene Kelly’s pioneering choreography and much-loved style influenced a generation of directors and dance-makers in Hollywood, Broadway and beyond, and we honour his creative legacy with this playful new film.
Set to Gershwin’s effortlessly cool Concerto in F, with extracts from Chopin, Starstruck is exactly the evening of entertainment you’ve been longing for.
Also available in Blu-ray Video (OABD7311D)
See classics by Shakespeare, Schiller, Euripides, Büchner, Chekhov, Gorky, Ibsen, Molière and Heiner Müller. More highlights of the world’s uniquely diverse German theatre landscape, united in a 10-DVD boxed set.