Sigur Rós’s ambitious plan to make a film for every track on last year's ‘Valtari’ album drew to a close in December with one of the series’ most ambitious submissions from director Floria Sigismondi. The flyblown 10-min mini-epic features indie movie stars Elle Fanning and John Hawkes, as father and daughter, one of whom may be dead. The sixteenth film in the series, it renews Sigur Ros's relationship with Sigismondi, who in 2003 won the European MTV video of year for the band's ‘Vaka', in which gas-masked school children played in the black snow of a nuclear winter. This new package sees all 16 Valtari films collected together on DVD or Blu-ray as the ‘Valtari Film Experiment’. The release includes all 14 films commissioned by the band, alongside the two winning entries from a parallel public competition, plus three additional making-of features.
Who loves whom in Così fan tutte, Mozart’s and Da Ponte’s cruelly comic reflection on desire, fidelity and betrayal? Or have the confusions to which the main characters subject one another ensured that in spite of the heartfelt love duets and superficially fleetfooted comedy nothing will work any longer and that a sense of emotional erosion has replaced true feelings? Così fan tutte is a timeless work full of questions that affect us all. The Academy Award-winning director Michael Haneke once said that he was merely being precise and did not want to distort reality.
"The audience knows that the performance of a Mahler symphony is not only a musical experience, but is also emotionally effective" (R. Chailly). This counts especially for Mahler's enigmatic sixth symphony, an emotionally stirring challenge for both performers and listeners, whilst also being one of the most impressive works in musical history. Chailly's interpretation with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra is "intensely great" (Die Presse). "Chailly uncompromisingly considers this sixth symphony through the lens of modernity; looking forward, not retrospectively staying in 'late romantic'. In this celebrated orchestra, all sections splendidly come together and fulfil an 'open' sound, conserving whilst respecting its original beauty." (Salzburger Nachrichten)
When Written on Skin had its premiere at the 2012 Festival d'Aix-en-Provence, conducted by George Benjamin himself, it received a standing ovation. The opera's arrival at Covent Garden in 2013 was eagerly anticipated, and provided audiences with the opportunity to experience the work of two of Britain's greatest living artists. Benjamin previously collaborated with playwright Martin Crimp on Into the Little Hill, a magical retelling of the Pied Piper fairytale, and for this new work they joined forces with acclaimed stage director Katie Mitchell. For all three, the production marked their main-stage debut at the Royal Opera House. The tale, inspired by a medieval legend, tells of an ill-fated troubadour, drawn into a liaison with an innocent maiden. But they are observed by the jealous eye of her protector, who wreaks a shocking revenge on the young couple.
Les Troyens is a tour de force that ranges from fiery military marches to intense choruses, passionate soliloquies and the lyrical love duets of Dido and Aeneas. For Hector Berlioz, librettist and composer, the opera became the work of decades and the passion of a lifetime, the culmination of his literary love affair with Virgil's Aeneid and with two tragic heroines, Cassandra and Dido. David McVicar's staging is on an enormous scale, assembling one of the largest casts ever seen at Covent Garden. The sweeping theme of the rise and fall of empires runs throughout Les Troyens, along with moving meditations on love and honour.
Eagle Vision s new SD Blu-ray range presents upscaled standard definition original material with uncompressed stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound for the best possible quality. Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb were performing together from childhood but it was in Australia in 1960 that they were first billed as the Bee Gees. The band went on to become one of the most successful performing, recording and songwriting acts of all time. This full length concert was shot at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on 14 November 1997 and is one of very few Bee Gees performances ever filmed. Now for the first time it has been fully restored with remastered sound and will be released on a Blu-ray disc as the first of Eagle Vision s new SD Blu-ray range.
Filmed live in Baden-Baden by the veteran director Brian Large, Renée Fleming makes her debut in the role of Ariadne together with fellow key Strauss interpreters Sophie Koch and Christian Thielemann, following on from their Rosenkavalier triumph. Thielemann conducts the Staatskapelle Dresden, the orchestra to whom Strauss dedicated his Alpine Symphony and which premiered Feuersnot, Salome, Elektra, Der Rosenkavalier and Daphne. Fleming's voice might have been made for Ariadne and she achieved a great personal triumph in this production: “The chief glory of the evening was hearing Renée Fleming, the Straussian soprano par excellence, making her role debut as Ariadne… As the possessor of what is, possibly, the most beautiful soprano voice in the world, she put her vocal treasures in the service of an empathic, nuanced interpretation of the role. From the creamy top, through a rich, warm middle, to the bewitching, darker colours of her lower register, Fleming poured her magnificent sound into Strauss’s enchanting melodic arcs, animating the sadness, vulnerability, and desire of the bereft princess…” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung