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Filling this month's schedule of new audiovisual releases we have eight stage works of the highest calibre, both in their creation and execution.

Gounod's 5-act opera La Nonne sanglante (1854) gets a grand airing in a ground-breaking production; Le Villi (1884) is the two-act opera-ballet that marked Giacomo Puccini’s debut in the world of opera; Kenneth MacMillan's ballet Mayerling (1978) is ‘ ... a stunning depiction of a repressed, repressive court, of lust and need and madness.’ (The Independent); Shakespeare's Twelfth Night gets a disco makeover in a production from Shakespeare's Globe Theatre; and the Royal Shakespeare Company's The Roman Plays brings together four critically lauded productions in one box set.

GOUNOD, C.-F.: Nonne sanglante (La) [Opera] (Opéra Comique, 2018) (NTSC)
2.110632 [DVD]
Charles GOUNOD (1818–1893)
La Nonne sanglante
(‘The Bleeding Nun’)
Libretto by Eugène Scribe and Germain Delavigne

Vannina Santoni, Soprano • Marion Lebègue, Mezzo-soprano
Michael Spyres, Tenor • accentus • Insula orchestra
Laurence Equilbey, Conductor • David Bobée, Stage Director

The plot of Gounod’s opera La Nonne sanglante (‘The Bleeding Nun’) is drawn from Matthew Lewis’s once famous 1796 novel The Monk. The subject is a Gothic melodrama featuring warring families, two lovers, and the vengeful spectre of the Nun, to which Gounod responds with music that fuses Romanticism with the supernatural on the grandest scale. This ground-breaking production features memorable set pieces enhanced by the stark drama of the stage setting and brilliant cinematic lighting effects.

Also available in Blu-ray Video (NBD0097V)

PUCCINI, G.: Villi (Le) [Opera] (Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, 2018) (NTSC)
DYN-37840 [DVD]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858–1924)
Le Villi
Opera-ballet in two acts
Libretto by Ferdinando Fontana

Elia Fabbian • Maria Teresa Leva • Leonardo Caimi • Tony Laudadio
Orchestra e Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Marco Angius, Conductor • Francesco Saponaro, Director

Le Villi is an opera-ballet in two acts that marked Giacomo Puccini’s debut in the world of opera. Librettist Ferdinando Fontana based the story on the ancient legend of the Willis, fantastic creatures representing the souls of young women who were the victims of love. Anna and Roberto are engaged, but he becomes seduced by another woman and his fiancée dies of heartbreak. Roberto, who is subsequently abandoned and left penniless, is haunted by remorse and attacked by the revengeful fairies and Anna’s ghost. Elements of the more mature Puccini are already recognisable: the characters of Anna and Roberto anticipate the archetypal ‘love victim’ and ‘man without qualities’ of his later operas; while some of the composer’s touches of harmony and aria structure also portend his future success.

Also available in Blu-ray Video (DYN-57840)

Audio format available on streaming and download platforms (CDS7840)

MACMILLAN, K.: Mayerling [Ballet] (Royal Ballet, 2018) (NTSC)
OA1287D [DVD]
Kenneth MACMILLAN (1829–1992)
Music by Franz Liszt (arr. John Lanchberry)

Steven McRae • Sarah Lamb
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Koen Kessels, Conductor

Kenneth MacMillan based his dark, intense ballet Mayerling on the tragic true story of Crown Prince Rudolf and his mistress Mary Vetsera, and it is celebrated as one of The Royal Ballet’s narrative masterpieces. The oppressive world of the Austro-Hungarian empire is brought to life by the whole Company, with a score drawn from the sweeping music of Franz Liszt, and with sumptuous designs by Nicholas Geordiadis. Steven McRae dances Rudolf, one of the most technically and emotionally demanding roles in the repertory for male dancers, with Sarah Lamb as Mary Vetsera, in choreography that pushes classical ballet to its limits. Recorded in true Surround Sound.

Also available in Blu-ray Video (OABD7257D)

SHAKESPEARE, W.: Twelfth Night (Shakespeare's Globe, 2017) (NTSC)
OA1279D [DVD]
William SHAKESPEARE (1564–1616)
Twelfth Night

Marc Antolin • Carl Bawden • Nandi Bhebhe • Le Gateau Chocolat
Tony Jayawardena • Joshua Lacey • Pieter Lawman
Annette McLaughlin • Kandaka Moore • Katy Owen
John Pfumojena • Theo St. Claire • Anita-Joy Uwajeh
Emma Rice, Director • Ian Russell

Twins Sebastian and Viola are shipwrecked on the coast of Illyria, separated and believing each other to be dead. Beside herself with grief, Viola disguises herself as a boy and goes into the service of the Duke Orsino. The Duke, madly in love with the Countess Olivia, sends Viola to woo on his behalf. What could possibly go wrong? Olivia falls in love with the cross-dressed page while Viola falls deep and fast for Orsino. Meanwhile, mischievous servants play painful pranks at each other’s expense. Heady chaos ensures as griefs, loves and deep human confusions collide, but fear not! Sweet resolution wins the day as friends, twins and lovers are reunited.

Cross-dressing, hijinks and bittersweet hilarity as Emma Rice directs William Shakespeare’s timeless, soulful and irrepressible comedy. Starring Le Gateau Chocolat as Feste, this vibrant production was described by the Daily Mail as ‘pure magic […] the most entertaining, exciting Twelfth Night for years.’

Spoken in Shakespeare’s English.

SHAKESPEARE, W.: Roman Plays (The) - Coriolanus / Julius Caesar / Antony and Cleopatra / Titus Andronicus (4-DVD Box Set) (NTSC)
OA1295BD [4 DVDs]
William SHAKESPEARE (1564–1616)
The Roman Plays
Coriolanus • Julius Caesar
Antony & Cleopatra • Titus Andronicus

Royal Shakespeare Company

The Royal Shakespeare Company transports you to Shakespeare’s Rome with a thrilling collection of four of the playwright’s most gripping plays: Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra, Titus Andronicus and Coriolanus. Filmed live in Stratford-upon-Avon and played out on an epic shared stage, this extraordinary collection exposes the decadence, politics, power play and corruption of Ancient Rome, charting the decline of an empire from birth to eventual implosion.

Also available in Blu-ray Video (OABD7262BD )

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