Wagner: Ring – Barenboim – Kupfer – Bayreuth Festival – Blu-ray

In going back to the original high definition video master tapes and using cutting-edge HD encoding technology, Kultur was able to maximize the video quality of this new presentation of this historic Ring for Blu-ray. This allowed Kultur to exploit the Blu-ray standard to its fullest and to also include three audio streams, LPCM, Dolby 5.1 and DTS 5.1.The production of Wagner’s Ring at the Bayreuth Festival is an event that takes place only once every six years. Bayreuth recordings of the complete cycle are very rare; this being only the second filmed version. The Kupfer/Barenboim Ring was performed over a five-year period and recorded at the conclusion when the “Bayreuth Workshop” had raised “the quality of the performance to an almost unsurpassable level” (Der Tagesspiegel)

Tosca – Puccini – Teatro Carlo Felice – Blu-ray

This production of Tosca filmed at the Teatro Carlo Felice in Genoa, with its stage set based on Adolf Hohenstein’s original design for the work’s premiere, brings together the best contemporary soprano-tenor combination Daniela Dessi and Fabio Armiliato – are set against a worthy opponent in the form of Claudio Sgura as Baron Scarpia. Such a combination of gentleman and scoundrel in one person is a perfect candidate to make “all Rome tremble before him.” Tosca is a classic example of Puccini’s three-person dramatic structure – a tragic pair of lovers juxtaposed with an interfering baritone! But these traditional roles are portrayed here in a much more realistic and psycho- logically accurate manner than usual. In vocal and dramatic terms however, the main attraction remains the title figure – and the reason why the work, became the archetypal prima donna opera.

Il Barbiere di Siviliga – Rossini – Teatro Regio di Parma – Blu-ray

An opera buffa, a comedy, a masterpiece of intrigues, lies and love! ‘Il Barbiere di Siviglia’ (The Barber of Seville), an opera in two acts by Gioachino Rossini, from the Teatro Regio di Parma. The production stars Dmitry Korchak as Il Conte d’Almaviva, Ketevan Kemoklidze as Rosina, Luca Salsi as Figaro and Giovanni Furlanetto as Don Basilio. The aging Doctor Bartolo longs to marry Rosina, his beautiful and wealthy aid of the energetic and enterprising barber Figaro, the Count succeeds in gaining entry to Bartolo’s house disguised first as a soldier then as a music teacher. When Bartolo becomes suspicious, he quickly summons the notary to set the seal on his marriage to Rosina. But Figaro and Almaviva are already one step ahead and the marriage contract is signed by the Count, who at last reveals his true identity. Bartolo receives generous compensation, however: the Count waives the dowry that Bartolo ought otherwise to have paid as Rosina’s guardian – although he is made to share the sum with Figaro. All’s well that ends well? We catch up on the couple’s subsequent marriage problems in the second part of Beaumarchais’ Figaro trilogy, La folle journée ou le Mariage de Figaro/ One Mad Day or The Marriage of Figaro, which Mozart set to music in 1786 under the title Le nozze di Figaro.

The Nutcracker – Mariinsky Ballet – DVD

In this Russian Nutcracker from the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, Tchaikovsky’s glorious score and Vainonen’s colorful, traditional production, complemented by Simon Virsaladze’s stunning designs, make this as magical and memorable a Christmas treat as ever. Includes bonus footage of the making of the recording. Libretto by Marius Petipa after the story by ETA Hoffmann.

Trip to Asia: The Quest for Harmony – Simon Rattle & The Berlin Philharmonic

Together with a high-calibre film team, director Thomas Grube accompanied the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle on their concert tour through Asia – in six pulsing metropolises, with their tremendous oppositional forces of thousand-year-old traditions and breathless hypermodernity. This clash of Western traditions and Far Eastern philosophy, of present-day Europe and Asia, becomes a journey into the mysterious and tension-ridden inner workings of one of the world’s best orchestras, and into the emotional universes of its very different musician personalities. Trip To Asia tells of the constant battle between the ego and the community, of the ancient and yet always renewed search for harmony – within oneself and with others. A unique artistic and human adventure of melancholy and enthusiasm, of loneliness and longing for love. A universal parable for life that combines fascinating images of the conflicts between the individual and the group with an intoxicating sound quality in one breathtaking cinematic event. A moving film on art – the art of harmony, and the art of living.

Rhythm Is It! – You Can Change Your Life in a Dance Class

The borough Treptow in Berlin on the 28th of January 2003. In a former omnibus depot in an industrial backwater something amazing is happening. 250 pupils from 25 nations are dancing to Stravinsky’s ‘Sacre du Printemps’, which they have rehearsed for nearly three months, trained by the British choreographer Royston Maldoom and accompanied by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under its chief conductor, Sir Simon Rattle. RHYTHM IS IT! follows the fascinating process leading to the Sacre performance, the most ambitious project in the Zukunft@BPhil program for the year 2003. It shows the first efforts at dancing made by youngsters, few of whom had prior knowledge of classical music and expressive dance; it shows the perseverance, affection and patience with which Royston Maldoom and his assistants Susannah Broughton and Volker Eisenach care for them, and it shows the auxiliary efforts of teachers and the rehearsals of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra held during the same period. Through the eyes of three young protagonists we take part in the project’s development, its ups and downs, doubts and enthusiasms, uncertainties and renewals of self-confidence. It is a fascinating journey into new, undreamed-of worlds and reveals surprising facets of the protagonists’ personalities.

The Nutcracker – Mariinsky Ballet – Blu-ray

In this Russian Nutcracker from the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg, Tchaikovsky’s glorious score and Vainonen’s colorful, traditional production, complemented by Simon Virsaladze’s stunning designs, make this as magical and memorable a Christmas treat as ever. Includes bonus footage of the making of the recording. Libretto by Marius Petipa after the story by ETA Hoffmann.