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Three intense operas, celebratory orchestral music and the final instalment in the Donmar Warehouse's all-female Shakespeare Trilogy comprise our audiovisual line up this month:
  • La donna serpente is Casella's only full-scale opera that sets the sinister, ethereal world of fairies against the vehement emotions of the human realm.
  • The renowned Verbier Festival celebrates its 25th anniversary with a concert boasting an amazing line-up of 36 classical music stars.
  • Mascagni's Cavalleria Rusticana, his first and most successful work, quickly became an opera classic that never fails to hit the mark.
  • Donmar Warehouse's ground-breaking, magical production of Shakespeare's The Tempest is further enhanced with a glowing score by Joan Armatrading.
  • The Glyndebourne Festival's first production of Puccini's ever-popular Madama Butterfly is a triumph of ‘sustained dramatic intensity and vocal brilliance.’ (The Arts Desk)
CASELLA, A.: Donna serpente (La) [Opera] (Teatro Regio Torino, 2016) (NTSC)
2.110631 [DVD]
Alfredo CASELLA (1883–1947)
La donna serpente
(‘The Snake Woman’)
Libretto by Cesare Vico Lodovici after Carlo Gozzi

Carmela Remigio, Erika Grimaldi and Francesca Sassu, Sopranos
Anna Maria Chiuri, Mezzo-soprano
Piero Pretti and Francesco Marsiglia, Tenors
Marco Filippo Romano and Roberto de Candia, Baritones
Orchestra and Chorus Teatro Regio Torino
Gianandrea Noseda, Conductor
Arturo Cirillo, Stage Director

Alfredo Casella was one of the ‘Generation of the eighties’ who sought to shake Italian music from its long-standing operatic heritage and the dominance of Puccini. La donna serpente was Casella’s only full-scale opera, its fantastic plot based on Carlo Gozzi’s renowned fairy tale that perpetually alternates between tragedy and comedy, expressed in neo-Classical music that skillfully portrays the sinister and ethereal world of the fairies as well as the intense emotions of the human realm. This production was acclaimed for Arturo Cirillo’s dreamlike setting and Gianandrea Noseda’s pin-point conducting: ‘What energy, what precision! … he delivers the complexity of this score with a disconcerting ease.’ (

Also available in Blu-ray Video (NBD0096V)

VERBIER FESTIVAL - The 25th Anniversary Concert (RIAS Chamber Chorus, Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra, Gergiev, Takács-Nagy) (NTSC)
2.110636 [DVD]
Verbier Festival
The 25th Anniversary Concert

Various Soloists
RIAS Kammerchor
Verbier Festival Chamber Orchestra
Valery Gergiev and Gábor Takács-Nagy, Conductors

The Verbier Festival is one of classical music’s greatest events. In celebration of the festival’s 25th anniversary, this unique concert brings together 36 classical stars in an unprecedented evening of ingenious programming and captivating performances. The line-up includes the world’s greatest violinists, violists, cellists and pianists as well as other leading performers conducted by Valery Gergiev and Gábor Takács-Nagy.

Also available in Blu-ray Video (NBD0098V)

Visit Apple Music’s exclusive visual albums of extracts from the festival’s programme.
MASCAGNI, P.: Cavalleria Rusticana [Opera] (Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, 2019) (NTSC)
DYN-37843 [DVD]
Pietro MASCAGNI (1863–1945)
Cavalleria Rusticana
Melodramma in one act
Libretto by Giovanni Targioni-Tozzetti and Guido Menasci
Edition by: Casa Musicale Sonzogno di Piero Ostali, Milano

Alexia Voulgaridou • Marina Ogii
Angelo Villari • Devid Cecconi • Elena Zilio
Orchestra e Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Valerio Galli, Conductor
Luigi Di Gangi and Ugo Giacomazzi, Directors

Mascagni’s first and most successful work has become an opera classic, featuring elements of Greek tragedy alongside religious and historical aspects. It’s a story of love, passion, jealousy and restored honour in bloodshed. Directors Di Gangi and Giacomazzi set this traditional Cavalleria Rusticana in a Sicilian village of the 1940s where the buildings are rather bare and the piazza is the stage for private as well as public drama.

Conductor Valerio Galli is at the head of the Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, one of the best in Italy. There were good performance reviews for the whole cast:

‘Elena Zilio is a well-centred and engaging Mamma Lucia, with a magnetic stage presence and an incredible expressive talent… Marina Ogii is a Lola imbued with charm and sensuality, with a warm and skilfully projected voice… Lorenzo Fratini directs the chorus which provides excellent and powerful contributions to the performance.’

‘The star of the show is Angelo Villari, who plays an impeccable Turiddu. Thanks to his warm and fiery voice, the Italian tenor adds credibility to a complex character, torn between passion and sensitivity… Soprano Alexia Voulgaridou portrays a perfect, melancholic Santuzza. She possesses an excellent voice – lyrical, dramatic and emotionally engaging.’

Also available in CD (CDS7843) and Blu-ray Video (DYN-57833)

SHAKESPEARE, W.: Tempest (The) (Donmar Warehouse, 2016) (NTSC)
OA1223D [DVD]
William SHAKESPEARE (1564–1616)
The Tempest

Phyllida Lloyd's All-Female Production
Starring Harriet Walter

The final instalment in the Donmar Warehouse’s all-female Shakespeare Trilogy sees Harriet Walter take on the role of Prospero in this evocation of the eternal struggle for freedom, morality and justice.

Directed for both stage and screen by Phyllida Lloyd. Set on an isle ‘full of noises’, this magical production features a glowing score by Joan Armatrading. Critics celebrated the original staging as ‘A glorious reminder that genuine diversity offers astonishing creative benefits’.

The Donmar Shakespeare Trilogy began in 2012 with an all-female production of Julius Caesar led by Dame Harriet Walter. Set in a women’s prison, the production asked the question, ‘Who owns Shakespeare?’ Two further productions followed: Henry IV in 2014 and The Tempest in 2016, all featuring a diverse company of women. The Trilogy enthralled theatre audiences in London and New York and was shared with women and girls in prisons and schools across the UK. The film versions were shot live in a specially built temporary theatre in King’s Cross in 2016, and now offer screen audiences unique access to these ground-breaking productions.

PUCCINI, G.: Madama Butterfly [Opera] (Glyndebourne, 2018) (NTSC)
OA1167D [DVD]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858–1924)
Madama Butterfly

Olga Busuioc • Joshua Guerrero
Michael Sumuel • Carlo Bosi • Elizabeth DeShong
The Glyndebourne Chorus • London Philharmonic Orchestra
Omer Meir Wellber, Conductor • Annilese Miskimmon, Director

Olga Busuioc’s Cio-Cio-San – a ‘performance of sustained dramatic intensity and vocal brilliance’ (The Arts Desk) – propels this Festival-premiere production of Madama Butterfly. Annilese Miskimmon’s thought-provoking reading, lauded for its ‘perception and clarity’, updates the opera’s setting to the 1950s, confronting the darker political and emotional currents of a work that acknowledges some barriers are too great even for love. Guerrero endows Pinkerton with ‘soaring, wilful, preening grace’ and Puccini’s score is ‘sensuously and expertly player… under the eagerly responsive baton of Omer Meir Wllber’ (The Guardian). DeShong gives Suzuki ‘sanity and compassion, with a voice of superb authority’ and the chorus is ‘luminous in its humming serenade’ (Telegraph ★★★★)

Filmed in High Definition and recorded in true Surround Sound.

Also available in Blu-ray Video (OABD7166D)

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