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Wagner: Lohengrin

Wagner: Lohengrin


Piotr Beczała (Lohengrin), Anna Netrebko (Elsa von Brabant), Tomasz Konieczny (Friedrich von Telramund), Evelyn Herlitzius (Ortrud), Georg Zeppenfeld (Heinrich der Vogler), Derek Welton (Der Heerrufer des Königs)

Staatskapelle Dresden, Sächsischer Staatsopernchor Dresden, Christian Thielemann

An operatic dream came true in May 2016, when two singers made their role debuts as Lohengrin and Elsa at the Dresden State Opera.

Previously at home in French and Italian lyric tenor roles, Piotr Beczala was expanding his repertory in a direction that many opera fans had long wanted him to explore, while Anna Netrebko – previously hailed as the “queen of bel canto” – was undertaking her first Wagnerian role. It was also her first foray into the lyric-dramatic repertory.

Both singers had been persuaded to take on their new roles by the Dresden Staatskapelle’s principal conductor, Christian Thielemann, one of the leading Wagner conductors of our day.

Seldom has the world of opera been as excited as it was by these performances, public and press revealing a rare unanimity in hailing them as outstanding. Die Presse spoke of a “starry occasion”, while Die Welt described it as “musically one of the finest Lohengrins of all time – a Lohen-Dream”. This punning was evidently catching, for the Münchner Merkur attempted a conflation of the German terms for swan (Schwan) and madness (Wahnsinn) and produced the portmanteau word Schwahnsinn. A substantial part in the production’s success was played by Georg Zeppenfeld as King Henry, Evelyn Herlitzius as Ortrud, Tomasz Konieczny as Telramund, Derek Welton as the Herald and the Dresden State Opera Chorus. Together they formed a Wagner ensemble so splendid that – in the words of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – “none better could currently be wished for”.

Picture Format: 1080i High Definition 16:9 | All Regions | Sound Formats: PCM Stereo, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.0

Subtitles: German (Orig. Language) · English · French · Spanish · Chinese

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

DG - 0735322

(Blu-ray)

$23.25

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Offenbach: Les Contes d'Hoffmann

Offenbach: Les Contes d'Hoffmann


Vittorio Grigolo (Hoffmann), Kate Lindsey (Nicklausse/Muse), Christine Rice (Giulietta), Sonya Yoncheva (Antonia), Sofia Fomina (Olympia), Thomas Hampson Coppélius/Dapertutto/Lindorf/Miracle)

Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Royal Opera Chorus, Evelino Pidò (conductor) & John Schlesinger (director)

The final revival of this well-loved production by John Schlesinger provided the perfect vehicle for Vittorio Grigòlo as Hoffmann to display his wonderful voice and masterful acting, surrounded by an exemplary supporting cast, including Sonya Yoncheva in the role of Antonia, and Thomas Hampson as Hoffmann’s arch rivals. The production at the Royal Opera House (November 2016) garnered very good reviews, especially for Vittorio Grigòlo.

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

Sony - 88985376629

(Blu-ray)

$22.00

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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.

Subtitles: EN/FR/DE/JP/KO

Running time: 216 minutes

Sound format: LPCM & DTS Master Audio 5

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

Opus Arte Royal Opera House Collection - OABD7195D

(Blu-ray)

$41.50

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Donizetti: La Favorite

Donizetti: La Favorite


Elīna Garanca (Léonor de Guzman), Matthew Polenzani (Fernand), Mariusz Kwiecień (Alphonse XI), Mika Kares (Balthazar), Elsa Benoit (Inès), Joshua Owen Mills ( Don Gaspar)

Bayerisches Staatsorchester, Chor des Bayerischen Staatsoper, Karel Mark Chichon, Amélie Niermeyer (dir.)

Read Presto's complete review of this disc here.

The premiere of the French version of Gaetano Donizetti’s La Favorite at the Bayerische Staatsoper on 23 October 2016 was a memorable event and this is why:

• star mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanca gave her acclaimed theatrical role debut as Léonor de Guzman

• Matthew Polenzani (Fernand) and Mariusz Kwiecień (Alphonse XI) gave their role debuts

• Karel Mark Chichon conducted La Favorite for the first time

• Chichon and the stage director Amélie Niermeyer gave their debuts at the Bayerische Staatsoper

• The last new production of La Favorite at the Bayerische Staatsoper was more than a 100 years ago

To tie in with two further performances at the Bayerische Staatsoper on 26 & 29 July, Deutsche Grammophon is set to release this extraordinary production on DVD/Blu-ray, recorded live on 23 October 2016

The “fabulous Elīna Garanča […] sings beautifully and emotionally restrained, leaving the audience deeply moved during her dying scene”, while Matthew Polenzani, in his debut as Fernand, scores with superb singing and acting, “reaching high tones with ease” (Süddeutsche Zeitung). Mariusz Kwiecień “convinces with the proper dandified arrogance and impressive acting”, while conductor Karel Mark Chichon completes the musically fantastic performance by “getting the most out of the Bayerische Staatsorchester, impressively bringing out the dark, viscous sounds of the score and following the soloists with great intuition.” (BR Klassik)

“The role of Léonor seems tailor-made for Garanča...her detached elegance and regal hauteur are ideal for this high-end trophy-mistress...When she finally lets her guard down in that great Act Three monologue, the emotional impact is heightened by the restraint that’s gone before...Polenzani, too, sings as if to the manner born, delivering heart-stopping pianissimo top notes and weightless legato.” Presto Classical, 28th July 2017

Presto Disc of the Week

28th July 2017

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

DG - 0735359

(Blu-ray)

Normally: $23.25

Special: $21.00

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Berlioz: Béatrice et Bénédict

Berlioz: Béatrice et Bénédict


Stéphanie d’Oustrac (Béatrice), Paul Appleby (Bénédict), Philippe Sly (Claudio), Sophie Karthäuser (Hero), Lionel Lhote (Somarone), Frédéric Caton (Don Pedro) & Katarina Bradić (Ursule)

London Philharmonic Orchestra & The Glyndebourne Chorus, Antonello Manacorda, Laurent Pelly (director)

Through the eye of French director Laurent Pelly this expression of Berlioz’s undying admiration for the Bard — his adaptation of Much Ado about Nothing as an opéra comique — becomes ‘an elegant treatise on love and music designed in shades of grey with 50s-era costumes’ (Sunday Express ????). Housed by designer Barbara de Limburg in a series of oversized boxes, it’s ‘terribly chic, terribly pretty’ (The Spectator). Soaring over the ‘warmly graceful playing of the London Philharmonic’, Paul Appleby sings ‘attractively’ as Bénédict and Stéphanie d’Oustrac ‘makes a marvellously wiry and fiery Béatrice, singing with charm and acting with gusto’ (The Telegraph).

Subtitles: EN/FR/DE/JP/KO

Running time: 129 minutes

Sound format: DTS HD Master Audio (Blu-ray)

“This is Pellyland, a deeply satisfying comic world with its own style conjured up for Glyndebourne by one of the most assured opera directors at work today...The LPO rise magnificently to the challenge of Berlioz's vibrant orchestration and daring harmonies...d'Oustac is a perfect Béatrice, a comic actress with impeccable timing who relishes every word...Appleby's Bénédict is much more than the bluff soldier.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2017 *****

“I loved everything about Laurent Pelly’s elegantly monochrome production of Berlioz’s rom-com treatment of Much Ado About Nothing when I saw it in the cinema broadcast from Glyndebourne last summer, and it works just as beautifully on the small screen. Stephanie d’Oustrac’s chic, gamine Béatrice and Paul Appleby’s golden-toned Bénédict exude charm, and the drunken revels which open Act Two are a slapstick delight.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, June 2017

BBC Music Magazine

Opera Choice - September 2017

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

Opus Arte Glyndebourne - OABD7219D

(Blu-ray)

$35.50

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Wagner: Parsifal

Wagner: Parsifal


Klaus Florian Vogt (Parsifal), Elena Pankratova (Kundry), Ryan McKinny (Amfortas), Georg Zeppenfeld (Gurnemanz), Karl-Heinz Lehner (Titurel), Gerd Grochowski (Klingsor)

Bayreuth Festival Orchestra, Hartmut Haenchen, Uwe Eric Laufenberg (dir).

Last year’s “Tristan Und Isolde” was the successful first installment of an exclusive, multiyear partnership between Deutsche Grammophon and the Bayreuth Festival, in which the Yellow Label became the exclusive audiovisual partner of the mythical Wagner festival, releasing each edition's new production on DVD/Blu-ray.

This year, we are proud to release on DVD/Blu-ray the celebrated production of “Parsifal” which was premiered on 25 July 2016, directed by Uwe Eric Laufenberg and conducted by Hartmut Haenchen. Haenchen, in his belated Bayreuth debut, conducts from his own edition of the score.

Cast includes “[Klaus Florian Vogt] as a powerfully heroic Parsifal (…), the beautiful gold, silver piercing iron of Elena Pankratova’s voice as Kundry” (…), Georg Zeppenfeld as a slim Gurnemanz providing unparalleled vocal command (...) and Ryan McKinny as a noble and agonised Amfortas.” (The Telegraph)

“Haenchen's belated Festival debut fields all his customary research on the score...The cast fit well, with MicKinny outstanding in mood and...in the balance between hysteria and pain. Pankratova encompasses Kundry's tricky range in Act 2 with aplomb...Vogt sounds more natural in this role than as Lohengrin. Zeppenfeld contributes another multi-layered reading of an 'old' Wagner bass” Gramophone Magazine, Awards Issue 2017

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

DG - 0735353

(Blu-ray)

Normally: $23.25

Special: $21.00

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Shostakovich: The Golden Age (complete)

Shostakovich: The Golden Age (complete)


Nina Kaptsova (Rita, a young girl), Ruslan Skvortsov (Boris, a young fisherman), Mikhail Lobukhin (Yashka, gang leader), Ekaterina Krysanova (Lyuska, Yashka’s accomplice)

Corps de Ballet & Orchestra of the State Academic Bolshoi Theatre of Russia, Pavel Klinichev

Choreography Yuri Grigorovich

Sets and costumes Simon Virsaladze

Lighting design Mikhail Sokolov

This modern and visionary work, set to music by Dmitri Shostakovich, was created in 1930. Its central theme was the highly battle and subsequent triumph of the proletariat against the decadent bourgeoisie, set in Europe during the Roaring Twenties. Surprisingly, the score by Dmitri Shostakovich raised political controversies, possibly because it took inspiration from European dance forms (and was openly inspired by jazz music) and consequently, the ballet vanished from the theaters until 1982, when Yuri Grigorovich restaged it with sets by Simon Virsaladze and a completely new libretto mainly revolving around the love story between Rita, a cabaret dancer, and Boris, a young idealist. The conflict in the original production was also recast as a clash between fishermen – the morally superior workers – and society’s criminal elements.

Bringing back The Golden Age in Autumn 2016, a few months prior to Yuri Grigorovich’s 90th birthday, was a highly symbolic choice for the Bolshoi Ballet: this work, the last Grigorovich would ever choreograph for his company, hadn’t been staged for almost 10 years. A rare and refined ballet, which ran the risk of falling into oblivion twice, is danced by the new generation of the Bolshoi Ballet, including Nina Kaptsova and Mikhail Lobukhin.

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

Bel Air Classiques - BAC443

(Blu-ray)

$30.25

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Strauss, R: Die Liebe der Danae, Op. 83

Strauss, R: Die Liebe der Danae, Op. 83

Salzburger Festspiele 2016


Krassimira Stoyanova (Danae), Tomasz Konieczny (Jupiter), Norbert Ernst (Merkur), Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke (Pollux), Regine Hangler (Xanthe), Gerhard Siegel (Midas), Mária Celeng (Semele), Olga Bezsmertna (Europa), Michaela Selinger (Alkmene), Jennifer Johnston (Leda)

Wiener Philharmoniker, Konzertvereinigung, Wiener Staatsopernchor, Franz Welser-Möst (conductor) & Alvis Hermanis (stage director)

Richard Strauss’ penultimate, satirically mythological opera Die Liebe der Danae (The Love of Danae, after a draft by Hugo von Hoffmansthal.

The Wiener Philharmoniker play under the baton of Franz Welser-Möst, under whom they “conveyed the glittering colors and lyrical intricacies of Strauss’s late score” (NY Times).

Krassimira Stoyanova, who is a regular fixture at the Salzburg Festival, is heading a truly supreme cast and emerges as the “one in a thousand, the true Strauss lyric-dramatic soprano who can soar and swoop, working miracles on phrases that never stop coming” (The Artsdesk).

Bass-Baritone Tomasz Konieczny, “sings this Jupiter almost unsurpassably” (FAZ), he “is so vocally majestic that Danae’s choice of Midas seems implausible” (Financial Times).

Alvis Hermanis’ colourful production brings oriental flair to the Salzach, his “staging was spectacular above all else” (Opera Today).

“Die Liebe der Danae” is narrowly linked to the Festival’s rich history. Due to conditions during World War II, the Salzburg Festival, which had commissioned the opera for summer 1944, couldn’t give the public premiere. Instead only a single dress rehearsal, attended by Strauss himself, was performed for an invited audience. Thereafter, the opera was staged in Salzburg only twice and very seldom anywhere else in the world.

“Once more, this very rarely presented opera returned successfully on stage, leaving the audience with unforgettable impressive images embedded in soft romantic sound.“ (Opera Online)

Picture: 1080/60i Full HD – 16:9

Sound: PCM Stereo, DTSH-HD Master Audio 5.1

Language/subtitles: English, Deutsch, Français, Italiano, Español, Japanese, Korean

Region code: All (worldwide)

Running time: 160 mins

Production year: 2016

Released or re-released in last 6 months

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

EuroArts - 8024297024

(Blu-ray)

$26.00

Usually despatched in 3 - 4 working days.

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (complete)

Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 1-9 (complete)


Myrto Papatanasiu (soprano), Bernarda Fink (mezzo-soprano), Burkhard Fritz (tenor) & Gerald Finley (baritone)

Netherlands Radio Choir & Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Iván Fischer

Recorded Live at Concertgebouw Amsterdam on 11 May 2013, 31 May 2013, 9-10 January 2014 and 20-21 February 2014

The Beethoven symphonies: all nine of them stunning masterworks, all nine performed countless times. Be that as it may, there are conductors who can recontextualise these symphonies in such a way that they sound completely new, as Iván Fischer proved in 2013 and 2014 in his Beethoven Series with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, spread out over two seasons. A veritable journey of discovery through a familiar landscape.

LPCM 2.0 / DTS HD Master 5.0 / 16:9 / 1080i

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

RCO Live - RCO14108

(Blu-ray - 3 discs)

$29.75

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

Janacek: The Cunning Little Vixen

Janacek: The Cunning Little Vixen

Recorded live at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, June 2012


Lucy Crowe (Vixen), Emma Bell (Fox), Sergei Leiferkus (Forester), William Dazeley (Harasta), Mischa Schelomianski (Badger/Parson), Jean Rigby (Forester's Wife/Owl), Adrian Thompson (Schoolmaster/Mosquito), Colin Judson (Pásek, Innkeeper), Sarah Pring (Innkeeper’s Wife)

London Philharmonic Orchestra, Glyndebourne Chorus, Vladimir Jurowski (conductor) & Melly Still (director)

Sung in Czech with subtitles in English, French, German and Korean.

The tale of a quick witted fox and her escape from confinement for a life in the forest that is by turns joyful and violent, The Cunning Little Vixen is an unsentimental parable of death and rebirth that lives through the instinctive and immediate world of nature, animal and human, which Janacek loved so much.

Melly Still's production for Glyndebourne finds the 'delicate balance between whimsy and mysticism' (Daily Telegraph) at the heart of the opera, which Vladimir Jurowski conducts 'with lustrous style: you can hear the birds in the score, feel the sunshine and thrill to the starlit night sky in the final scene' (Opera Today).

Running Time: 119 minutes

Subtitles EN/FR/DE/KR

Sound format: 2.0LPCD plus 5.1(5.0) DTS

“I was entranced throughout. The work's humour is realized extremely well but so is its more serious side...aside from Mackerras...I've never heard the opera conducted with such colour, wit, detail and dramatic urgency...Crowe's Vixen is vocally completely secure and delightfully and sharply characterized...[in the closing scene] there is just the right sense of pantheistic rapture...an outstanding achievement.” International Record Review, May 2013

“Still, with her background in choreography and a very visceral take on children's theatre, is an ideal director. There's nothing cutesy about her treatment of the animal characters...Jurowski allows this extraordinary score to glitter and sing, his orchestral interludes breathe luminescence. Both Emma Bell (the Fox) and Crowe blaze beside Leiferkus's poignant Forester.” BBC Music Magazine, August 2013 *****

“Still's unsentimental production plays up the dance elements in the music, well supported by Vladimir Jurowski in the pit. Lucy Crowe is a feisty, boho Vixen and the sonorous Russian baritone Sergei Leiferkus (well into his sixties by this point) ideal casting as the Forester. The supporting roles receive tender loving care from some of the best British singers around.” Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical, May 2014

“Crowe particularly balances the contrasting elements of her character with skill. Sergei Leiferkus’s Forester is the other character underpinning this performance, his baritone, though aged, catches just the right element of humanity to express Janácek’s life view. Vladimir Jurowski relishes the lush orchestral palette he is given, and the score is played beautifully by the LPO” Opera Now ****

Blu-ray Disc

Region: all

Opus Arte Glyndebourne - OABD7117D

(Blu-ray)

$35.50

In stock - usually despatched within 1 working day.

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