Our latest selection of audiovisual releases certainly doesn't lack in variety. Nineteenth-century opera is represented by a dazzling modern production of Thomas' Hamlet, Verdi's La traviata, featuring a cast of truly world-class soloists, and Offenbach's rarely performed comedy of errors, Un mari à la porte. Marin Alsop both conducts and narrates a programme of orchestral works that have an enduring appeal for children and adults alike. The acclaimed Donmar Warehouse Shakespeare Trilogy, previously released as single productions, is now made available as a single package. And The Enrico Cecchetti Diploma presents a riveting documentary about a unique training programme for aspiring professional dancers.
Ambroise THOMAS (1811–1896)
Libretto by Michel Carré and Jules Barbier
after William Shakespeare
Sabine Devieilhe, Soprano
Sylvie Brunet-Grupposo, Mezzo-soprano
Stéphane Degout, Baritone
Laurent Alvaro, Bass-baritone
Les éléments • Orchestre des Champs-Élysées
Louis Langrée, Conductor
Cyril Teste, Stage Director
With Shakespearian operas all the rage in Paris during the 19th century, Ambroise Thomas and his librettists Michel Carré and Jules Barbier adapted Hamlet to create a romantic spectacle in which the character of Ophélie shines with a haunting radiance. With its virtuosic arias, stunning ensembles and vivid orchestration – with the colourful addition of the newly invented saxophone – Thomas composed one of the most successful operas in the French repertoire. This is further enhanced by director Cyril Teste’s multi-layered production, reinstating its powerful original ending, and including cinematic techniques to create ‘a very palpable hit’ (bachtrack.com).
Also available in Blu-ray Video (NBD0103V)
Jacques OFFENBACH (1819–1880)
Un mari à la porte
Operetta in one act
Libretto by Alfred Delacour and Léon Morand
Patrizio La Placa • Marina Ogii
Matteo Mezzaro • Francesca Benitez
Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Valerio Galli, Conductor
Luigi Di Gangi and Ugo Giacomazzi, Directors
Un mari à la porte (A Husband at the Door) is a one-act operetta which was recorded at the Teatro del Maggio on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of Offenbach’s birth. Premiered in 1859, this rarely performed work is a highly amusing comedy of errors, the composer's usual vehicle for presenting and mocking the quirks and vices of French society of the day.
The action takes place in Suzanne’s bedroom on her wedding night. She is in the company of her friend Rosita, with whom she complains about having just discovered her future husband’s bad character, which she decides to punish. Rosita tries to soothe her young friend and eventually leaves. While alone, the bride realises that there’s a man hidden under the bed. It’s Florestan Ducroquet, a young and penniless musician, who had entered the room after falling down the chimney while escaping from the fury of a jealous husband. Rosita joins the pair as Henry, the groom, is waiting outside the door pleading to come in, thinking the two friends are pulling a prank on him. Finally the intruder manages to flee through the window, seconds after having proposed to Rosita. Order is restored and love triumphs over all.
This carefree play of allusions and misunderstandings is accompanied by Offenbach's brilliant music that moves gracefully to the dance rhythms of the polka, the mazurka and, above all, the waltz.
The main attractions of this production are the colourful, flamboyant set and costumes, and the amazing acting abilities of all four singers, who have the audience laughing with sheer delight.
Also available in Blu-ray Video (DYN-57844) and CD (CDS7844)
Giuseppe VERDI (1813–1901)
Ermonela Jaho • Charles Castronovo
Plácido Domingo • Royal Opera Chorus
Orchestra of the Royal Opera House
Antonello Manacorda, Conductor • Richard Eyre, Director
Soprano Ermonela Jaho stars as Violetta Valéry, with Charles Castronovo as her lover Alfredo and Plácido Domingo as Alfredo’s stern father Giorgio Germont, in The Royal Opera’s much loved production of Verdi’s La traviata. One of the greatest of all operas, La traviata is based on the novel and play La Dame aux camélias by Alexandre Dumas films, inspired in turn by the life and death of the real Parisian courtesan, Marie Duplessis. The opera tells the profoundly moving story of a courtesan prepared to sacrifice everything for love, and contains some of Verdi’s most beautiful arias and duets. Richard Eyre’s engrossing naturalistic production features stunning designs by his regular collaborator Bob Crowley. Italian conductor Antonello Manacorda conducts Verdi’s sublime score, which offers a wonderful showcase for the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and Royal Opera Chorus.
Also available in Blu-ray Video (OABD7260)
William SHAKESPEARE (1564–1616)
Phyllida Lloyd's All-Female Production
Starring Harriet Walter
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.
Power, betrayal, justice. Shakespeare’s great political drama Julius Caesar could not be more timely as it depicts the catastrophic consequences of a political leader’s extension of his powers beyond the remit of the constitution.
What makes a King? What makes a father? The Bard’s monumental history play travels to the heart of family, duty and country in this bold, contemporary production, adapted from Shakespeare’s two plays about King Henry IV, Prince Hal and Falstaff.
Set on an isle ‘full of noises’, this magical production of The Tempest sees Harriet Walter take on the role of Prospero in an evocation of the eternal struggle for freedom, morality and justice. ‘A glorious reminder that genuine diversity offers astonishing creative benefits’.
This set includes over 90 minutes of extra documentary features that were not included on the original discs.
The Enrico Cecchetti Diploma
with dancers of The Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet
Introduced by Dame Darcey Bussell DBE
James Hay • Chisato Katsura • Romany Pajdak
Ruth Brill • Laura Day • Brandon Lawrence • Lachlan Monaghan
Diane van Schoor, Master Teacher
Maestro Cav. Enrico Cecchetti (1850–1928) devised his method of training based on sound theoretical and anatomical principles. The Cecchetti Method hinges on a programme set over six days of the week, highlighting the rigorous demands and versatility required to be a professional dancer. Precision and speed of footwork, development of terre-à-terre and batterie technique are key aspects of this virtuoso training method.
The Enrico Cecchetti Diploma is the culmination of the study of the Cecchetti Method. It is designed for professional dancers and there is no equivalent in any other system of training. The Diploma has never before been filmed in its entirety as a heritage, educational project.
In this film, the dancers are instructed via discussion on background and various versions of the exercises, and perform all the studies which today make up the Diploma syllabus.