Eric Halfvarson

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Wagner: Das Rheingold

Wagner: Das Rheingold


Michael Volle (Wotan), Tomasz Konieczny (Alberich), Burkhard Ulrich (Loge), Elisabeth Kulman (Fricka), Herwig Pecoraro (Mime), Peter Rose (Fasolt), Eric Halfvarson (Fafner), Annette Dasch (Freia), Janina Baechle (Erda), Christian van Horn (Donner), Benjamin Bruns (Froh), Mirella Hagen (Woglinde), Stefanie Irányi (Wellgunde), Eva Vogel (Flosshilde)

Symphonie-Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Simon Rattle

The general consensus over the past few years among music critics and the public at large is that everything the conductor Sir Simon Rattle touches "turns to gold". Everything with the exception of the music dramas of Richard Wagner, that is! The oft-repeated assertion here is that Rattle and Wagner do not go together, even though no good reasons have been furnished to support this. The third collaboration between Rattle and the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, together with a team of the very best Wagner singers, now conclusively proves the opposite. This concert performance of "Das Rheingold", the first opera in Wagner's mighty tetralogy "The Ring of the Nibelung", was performed live in the Herkulessaal of the Munich Residenz on April 24 and 25, 2015, and has now been brought out by BR KLASSIK on two CDs only a few months after the event.

No question about it: Rattle is a master of the Rheingold score, which is certainly a tricky one due to its closely interwoven ensemble of soloists and to the fact that the orchestra does not accompany events and flow round them in a lofty manner, as in other Wagnerian music dramas, but is also sometimes quite openly rebellious! Rattle has already impressively proven his expertise at handling the music of Wagner on two occasions: in 2004 in London, together with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and in 2006 in Berlin with the Berlin Philharmonic. The fact that he is more inclined to conduct this "evil conversation piece, almost a black comedy" (as Robert Braunmüller described "Das Rheingold" in the Munich "Abendzeitung") with light and sometimes even dance-like inflections, and that he has the orchestra play with a great deal of colour and detail, shakes a little of the supercilious Wagnerian dust from this work, without in any way compromising the glittering brilliance of the musical sound. The soloists – all of them very good without exception - blend in completely with Rattle's fine interpretation, which is very much in the spirit of the drama.

Audiences and critics alike were unanimously delighted by the Munich concert performances. Even more than in the small Herkulessaal, which already enabled more intimate insights into the structures of the score and of the aesthetic created by Rattle, this listening experience on CD makes it clear "just how radically the avant-garde artist Richard Wagner composed in every single bar" (Reinhard J. Brembeck, "Sueddeutsche Zeitung").

“His conducting is fast, as Wagner preferred and intensely dynamic but he avoids Boulez's glibness, illuminating the drama of the moment in a mercurial, almost Solti-like fashion...he seems to have encouraged his singers to act - with a vengeance...for sheer dramatic dash and glowing orchestral sound this is remarkable, promising an exciting Ring to come.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2016 *****

GGramophone Awards 2016

Shortlisted - Opera

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - October 2015

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Verdi: Don Carlo

Verdi: Don Carlo

Five-act version, sung in Italian


Jonas Kaufmann (Don Carlo), Anja Harteros (Elisabetta di Valois), Matti Salminen (Filppo II), Thomas Hampson (Rodrigo, Marchese di Posa), Ekaterina Semenchuk (La Principessa Eboli), Eric Halfvarson (Il Grande Inquisitore), Robert Lloyd (Un frate), Maria Celeng (Tebaldo), Sen Guo (Una voce dal cielo), Benjamin Bernheim (Il Conte di Lerma/Un Araldo reale)

Wiener Philharmoniker, Sir Antonio Pappano (conductor), Peter Stein (director)

Giuseppe Verdi’s late opera Don Carlo delivers all the big topics while Ferdinand Wögerbauer’s ultra-simple décor provides a spartan counterpoint to the dramatic action.

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Verdi: Don Carlo

Verdi: Don Carlo

Five-act version, sung in Italian


Jonas Kaufmann (Don Carlo), Anja Harteros (Elisabetta di Valois), Matti Salminen (Filppo II), Thomas Hampson (Rodrigo, Marchese di Posa), Ekaterina Semenchuk (La Principessa Eboli), Eric Halfvarson (Il Grande Inquisitore), Robert Lloyd (Un frate), Maria Celeng (Tebaldo), Sen Guo (Una voce dal cielo), Benjamin Bernheim (Il Conte di Lerma/Un Araldo reale)

Wiener Philharmoniker, Sir Antonio Pappano (conductor), Peter Stein (director)

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Anna Netrebko: Live at the Metropolitan Opera

Anna Netrebko: Live at the Metropolitan Opera


Bellini:

O rendetemi la speme...Qui la voce sua soave...Vien, diletto (from I Puritani)

Recorded 6th January, 2007

Patrick Summers

Donizetti:

La morale in tutto questo (from Don Pasquale)

Recorded 15th April 2006

Mariusz Kwiecien (Malatesta), Simone Alaimo (Don Pasquale), Juan Diego Florez (Ernesto)

Maurizio Benini

Il dolce suono mi colpì di sua voce! … Spargi d'amaro pianto (from Lucia di Lammermoor)

Recorded 7th February 2009

Ildar Abdrazakov (Raimondo), Michael Myers (Normanno), Cecilia Brauer (glass harmonica)

Marco Armiliato

Gounod:

Va! je t'ai pardonné (from Roméo et Juliette)

Dieu! Quel frisson court dans mes veines from Romeo and Juliette

Recorded 15th December 2007

Roberto Alagna (Romeo)

Placido Domingo

Mozart:

Vedrai, carino (from Don Giovanni)

Recorded 15th February 2003

Sylvain Cambreling

Offenbach:

C'est une chanson d'amour (from Les contes d'Hoffmann)

Recorded 19th December 2009

Joseph Calleja (Hoffmann)

James Levine

Prokofiev:

Kak Solnca za goroy (from War & Peace)

Ya ne budu (from War & Peace)

Recorded 2nd March, 2002

Dmitri Hvorostovsky (Andrei), Ekaterina Semenchuk (Sonya)

Valery Gergiev

Puccini:

Donde lieta usci (from La Bohème)

O soave fanciulla (from La Bohème)

Recorded 27th February 2010

Piotr Beczala (Rodolfo), Gerald Finley (Marcello)

Marco Armiliato

Verdi:

Ah più non ragiono (from Rigoletto)

Recorded 17th December 2005

Nancy Fabiola Herrera (Maddalena), Eric Halfvarson (Sparafucile)

Asher Fisch


The forthcoming season marks the 10th anniversary of Anna Netrebko’s debut with the Metropolitan Opera, New York. The new album celebrates this milestone by bringing together her greatest MET moments throughout the past 10 seasons - performances never before issued on record and most never commercially released on any format.

Anna Netrebko's first operatic album sold more than 300,000 units, the second, Sempre libera, more than 400,000, while her live recording of Verdi's La Traviata has sold in excess of 350,000 on CD alone. This new album, capturing the thrill of her greatest performances on one of the world's most iconic stages, will be a major event for hundreds of thousands of fans who have followed her career in the opera house, on radio, on CD, on DVD and in cinemas worldwide.

Over the past decade, The Met has played host to many of the Russian soprano’s greatest triumphs, from Prokofiev’s War and Peace in 2002 to her most recent appearance, in 2010, as Adina in Donizetti's Don Pasquale. The album also includes virtuoso arias from Mozart's Don Giovanni, Bellini's I Puritani, Verdi's Rigoletto, Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, Offenbach's Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor and Puccini's La Bohème.

The selections - including performances with tenors Roberto Alagna, Joseph Calleja and Juan Diego Flórez - demonstrate Anna Netrebko's remarkable vocal range and dramatic imagination. All recorded live, they are infused with her unique vocal magnetism and irresistible on-stage charisma.

“This compilation of highlights from Anna Netrebko's Metropolitan Opera roles makes a distinctive introduction to her talents...it's her solo aria from Roméo & Juliette that proves one of the stand-out performances here, the other being a dazzling showstopper from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor, "Il dolce suono", which has the audience justly bawling its acclaim.” The Independent, 30th September 2011

“They show Netrebko’s chameleon-like ability to alter her timbre according to repertoire: the ethereal, Sutherland-like soprano in Donizetti and Bellini is unrecognisable as the singer who delivers a hard-edged, glinting Natasha in Prokofiev’s War and Peace.” The Times, 1st October 2011 ***

“The real treat is her Natasha in Prokofiev's War and Peace, conducted by Gergiev, with Dmitri Hvorostovsky as a dreamy Andrei. It's nicely recorded, too: some of Netrebko's discs capture the power of her voice at the expense of its opulence; here, you get a real sense of its force and beauty.” The Guardian, 13th October 2011 ****

“there is an alert sense of drama, which is where Netrebko really scores as a singing actress...While her bel canto is judged 'could do better', it's worth considering that, at 40, Netrebko is now just entering her prime.” International Record Review, November 2011

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Mozart: Don Giovanni, K527

Mozart: Don Giovanni, K527

Recorded live at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, on 8th & 12th September 2008.


Simon Keenlyside (Don Giovanni), Kyle Ketelsen (Leporello), Eric Halfvarson (Commendatore), Marina Poplavskaya (Donna Anna), Joyce DiDonato (Donna Elvira), Ramón Vargas (Don Ottavio), Miah Persson (Zerlina), Robert Gleadow (Masetto)

The Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Charles Mackerras (conductor) & Francesca Zambello (stage director)

Don Giovanni is one of the timeless classics of all opera. Mozart's music, and the words of his great collaborator Da Ponte, are brought to life in Francesca Zambello's engrossing production from 2002 with its rich and colourful designs by Maria Bjornson. The music is memorable, dramatic and enjoyable: from the seductive solo voices of the famous 'La ci darem la mano' to the fabulous ensemble as Don Giovanni's infatuated conquests, vengeful victims and their outraged relatives join forces for justice. And retribution does finally come to Don Giovanni, a serial womanizer and a murderer, with the searing flames of Hell ready to engulf him. Simon Keenlyside heads the outstanding cast, conducted by renowned Mozart expert Charles Mackerras.

Bonus material:

Illustrated synopsis & cast gallery.

Into the Royal Opera House.

Backstage Tour.

PICTURE FORMAT: 16:9
LENGTH: TBC
SOUND: 5.1 DTS SURROUND / PCM STEREO
SUBTITLES: EN/FR/DE/ES/IT

“…as flames rage over the opening cast credits, Sir Charles Mackerras conducts an incandescent Overture which kindles the brilliance, clarity and indefatigable energy of his music direction throughout. This film powerfully captures the fiery essence of Francesco Zambello's production for the Royal Opera. ...consistently strongly cast, it's as good for the ear as for the eye. Zambello makes Simon Keenlyside's harsh and diabolical Don Giovanni and Kyle Ketelsen's embittered Leporello a double-act of deadly dependency.” BBC Music Magazine, June 2009 *****

“If one of the cast it to be named above the rest, that should be Joyce DiDonato, an outstandingly accomplished Elvira, brilliantly projected, interestingly conceived, her singing concentrated in tone. Miah Persson is an adorable Zerlina, and I liked what she and others were encouraged to do by way of vocal ornamentation. Of the men, Giovanni is the least tested vocally though it's all to the good if he can turn a serenade as ingratiatingly as Keenlyside does. Mackerras at the helm is such a reassuringly familiar and well loved figure that we may be tempted to take him for granted.” Gramophone Magazine, July 2009

“This is eminently listenable and surprisingly viewable – 'surprisingly' because complaints were commonly heard concerning the production.
It's not particularly edifying to see so much of Simon Keenlyside's torso or to have Giovanni taking his last supper in shorts, but by modern standards it's almost tasteful. And the singing is almost uniformly fine. If one of the cast is to be named above the rest, that should be Joyce DiDonato, an outstandingly accomplished Elvira, brilliantly projected, interestingly conceived, her singing concentrated in tone. Marina Poplavskaya's Anna is both dignified and sympathetic, and she too has remarkable command of the necessary technique. Yet the voice itself doesn't serve quite as well as one might have hoped, wanting more heft in 'Or sai chi l'onore' and more ease of passage in 'Non mi dir'. Miah Persson is an adorable Zerlina, and one liked what she and others were encouraged to do by way of vocal ornamentation.
Of the men, Giovanni is the least tested vocally though it's all to the good if he can turn a serenade as ingratiatingly as Keenlyside does. Ramón Vargas hardly looks a suitable lover for this Donna Anna but he sings both arias like the admirably reliable and gifted artist he is and has been for a good many years now. The Masetto looks rather too like the Leporello but that hardly matters and both deserve their applause. The Commendatore's uneven voice production does matter in spite of his sonorous bass notes and imposing stage presence. Mackerras at the helm is such a reassuringly familiar and well loved figure that we may be tempted to take him for granted. Happily the Covent Garden audience shows every sign of appreciation and the final curtain-call is deservedly his.”
Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

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Rossini: Guillaume Tell

Rossini: Guillaume Tell


Gerald Finley (Guillaume Tell), Malin Byström (Mathilde), John Osborn (Arnold Melchtal), Sofia Fomina (Jemmy), Nicolas Courjal (Gesler), Alexander Vinogradov (Walter Furst), Enkelejda Shkosa (Hedwige), Eric Halfvarson (Melcthal), Michael Colvin (Rodolphe), Samuel Dale Johnson (Leuthold), Enea Scala (Ruodi)

Royal Opera Chorus & Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Antonio Pappano (conductor) & Damiano Michieletto (director)

Rossini’s final opera helped to lay the foundations of the genre of French grand opéra that dominated European stages throughout the mid-19th century. The opera’s theme is liberty, as exemplified in the struggle against Austrian occupation led by the Swiss archer and patriot Guillaume Tell: in the opera’s most famous scene, Tell shoots an apple from his son’s head, a feat that inspires his countrymen to revolt.

Rossini’s score, here performed in its original French, is one of his most outstanding and packed with glorious arias, choruses and ensembles. The exciting young Italian director Damiano Michieletto makes his Royal Opera House debut with a spectacular and thought-provoking production.

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Opus Arte Royal Opera House Collection - OA1205D

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Rossini: Guillaume Tell

Rossini: Guillaume Tell


Gerald Finley (Guillaume Tell), Malin Byström (Mathilde), John Osborn (Arnold Melchtal), Sofia Fomina (Jemmy), Nicolas Courjal (Gesler), Alexander Vinogradov (Walter Furst), Enkelejda Shkosa (Hedwige), Eric Halfvarson (Melcthal), Michael Colvin (Rodolphe), Samuel Dale Johnson (Leuthold), Enea Scala (Ruodi)

Royal Opera Chorus & Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Antonio Pappano (conductor) & Damiano Michieletto (director)

Rossini’s final opera helped to lay the foundations of the genre of French grand opéra that dominated European stages throughout the mid-19th century. The opera’s theme is liberty, as exemplified in the struggle against Austrian occupation led by the Swiss archer and patriot Guillaume Tell: in the opera’s most famous scene, Tell shoots an apple from his son’s head, a feat that inspires his countrymen to revolt.

Rossini’s score, here performed in its original French, is one of his most outstanding and packed with glorious arias, choruses and ensembles. The exciting young Italian director Damiano Michieletto makes his Royal Opera House debut with a spectacular and thought-provoking production.

Released or re-released in last 6 months

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Opus Arte Royal Opera House Collection - OABD7195D

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Rostropovich - Cellist of the Century - The Complete Warner Recordings

Rostropovich - Cellist of the Century - The Complete Warner Recordings


Mstislav Rostropovich (cello), Alexander Dedyukhin (piano), David Oistrakh (violin), Sviatoslav Richter (piano), Gilbert Zanlonghi (cello), Edmond Primetemps (double bass), Micheline Lemoine (viola), Jean Emanuelle (violin), Robert Quatrocchi (violin), Vasso Devetzi (piano), Ulrich Koch (viola), Itzhak Perlman (violin), Galina Vishnevskaya (soprano vocals), Pierre Dux (actor), Hugh Seenan (horn), Layton James (harpsichord), Christopher Brown (double bass), Peter Howard (cello), Herbert Tachezi (organ), Herbert Tachezi (harpsichord), Gidon Kremer (violin), Yuri Bashmet (viola), National Cathedral School Lower School Chorus (chorus), Choral Arts Society of Washington (chorus), Washington National Cathedral Choristers (chorus), London Voices (chorus), Ulf Hoelscher (violin), Vladimir Yampolsky (piano), Alexei Zybtsev (piano), Ana Amintayeva (piano), Yuri Godin (percussion), Alla Mamyko (percussion), Boris Tchaikovsky (harpsichord), Igor Khovov (electric guitar), Lazar Dvoskin (viola), Dmitri Shostakovich (piano), Dmitry Kabalevsky (piano), Karen Khachaturian (piano), Anastassiya Tishchenko (harmonium), Igor Uriash (piano), Alexei Lubimov (piano), Mstislav Rostropovich (narrator), Jon Tolansky (narrator), Nicolai Gedda (tenor vocals), Lynda Richardson (soprano vocals), Ambrosian Opera Chorus (chorus), Mstislav Rostropovich (piano), Julian Rodescu (bass vocals), Eric Halfvarson (bass vocals), Mstislav Rostropovich, Louis Aragon (narrator)

Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Berliner Philharmoniker, Orchestre de Paris, Orchestre National de l'ORTF, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Orchestre National de France, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal C, Sir Malcolm Sargent, Sir Adrian Boult, George Szell, Herbert von Karajan, Serge Baudo, Witold Lutoslawski, André Jolivet, Mstislav Rostropovich, Leonard Bernstein, Carlo Maria Giulini, Bernard Haitink, Marcel Landowski, Seiji Ozawa, Krzysztof Penderecki,

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Warner Classics - 9029586263

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Verdi: Rigoletto

Verdi: Rigoletto


Paolo Gavanelli (Rigoletto), Marcelo Alvarez (Il Duca), Christine Schäfer (Gilda), Eric Halfvarson (Sparafucile), Graciela Araya (Maddalena), Elizabeth Sikora (Giovanna), Giovanni Battista Parodi (Monterone), Quentin Hayes (Marullo), Peter Auty (Borsa)

Orchestra & Chorus of Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Edward Downes (conductor) & David McVicar (director)

Running time: 169 minutes / Subtitles: EN/FR/DE/NL/ES

“...a remarkable Rigoletto...a DVD that has to be in your collection.” International Record Review

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Don Giovanni (Juan): A Film by Kasper Holten

Don Giovanni (Juan): A Film by Kasper Holten


Mozart:

Don Giovanni, K527

Sung in English (translation by Kasper Holten and Mogens Rukov)


Christopher Maltman (Giovanni, aka Juan), Mikhail Petrenko (Leporello), Maria Bengtsson (Anna), Elizabeth Futral (Elvira), Katija Dragojevic (Zerlina), Peter Lodahl (Ottavio), Ludwig Bengtson Lindström (Masetto), Eric Halfvarson (Commendatore)

Concerto Copenhagen, Lars Ulrik Mortensen (conductor) & Kasper Holten (director)

A truly unique filmed version of Mozart’s famous opera - an intense, vibrant and energetic take on a timeless drama, shot on location in Budapest, Hungary.

Every scene and every single detail has been adapted so that it fully exploits the film media’s great power to create emotional presence, making use of the full visual vocabulary of modern cinema, following such unorthodox inspirational sources as The Bourne Trilogy and Traffic, while at the same time maintaining the exceptional live experience of opera, since the actors really sing on set.

Juan is a famous artist and notorious playboy, thanks to his ability to become just what any woman dreams of. He turns his own life into a megalomanic work of art, playing the game of seduction like no other, driven by a manic restlessness that pushes him forward through an endless stream of conquests, betrayals, sex and eventually murder, with death lurking as the only possible outcome.

A portrayal of male sexuality in the 21st century, taken to the extreme, DON GIOVANNI reveals how the blessing of an endless appetite for life and a will to conquer the world, might in reality turn out to be the path to ruthless destruction and eventually self-destruction.

Audio: Dolby Stereo & Optional 5.1

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Feature Running Time: 102 mins

Region: 2, PAL

Contains sex and nudity

“a pacey (if slightly cheesy) drama complete with sexy escapades, a car chase, and hospital scenes...Funnily enough, it all sort of works. This is partly because the singers are not only musically good, they can also carry the close scrutiny of the camera lens...Holten gives a lucid account of his motivations for the film in the 'Extras' section.” BBC Music Magazine, Christmas 2012 ****

“The well-chosen cast, led by Maltman's assured, sexy Juan, truly look and sound great...But perhaps the ultimate achievement of the Roal Opera House's Kasper Holten in his first feature film...is to make an 'opera film' that really doesn't look like singers standing around a street in costumer wondering why they're not in a theatre. Even if you're phobic about 'modern' productions, give this a go.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2013

“It’s all rather ingenious, and will no doubt launch a thousand undergraduate musicology essays...There’s a lot to admire in the technical achievement the film represents, and, as an exploration of the possibilities of opera as film, it’s undoubtedly fascinating; but it is so, one feels, precisely because it demonstrates the limits of that hybrid genre.” Opera, December 2012

“Holten trades too knowingly, at times, on the narrative disparities between the opera and his film. But this is much more erotic than many stagings of the piece, and by the end we really do understand the nature of Juan's unsettling sexual hold...That's ultimately due to Maltman's charismatic artistry and Holten's filming of it, both of which are sensational.” The Guardian, 13th December 2012 ****

“here are sex and violence, speeding cars, and plenty of rough language. Maltman himself supplied the translation, which fits the updated setting supremely well but won’t appeal to maiden aunts...Holten has created a film that treats the opera with the respectful kind of disrespect that leaves the work’s core intact. And the performances are mostly riveting...Go on, be brave, give this adventurous Giovanni a whirl.” The Times, 29th September 2012 ****

Presto Disc of the Week

10th September 2012

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