Masters of Opera

Aida

By Verdi

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Setting is in Egypt during the time of the Pharaohs. Aida, captive daughter of Ethiopian King, falls in love with the warrior-prince Radames, the new leader of the Egyptian Army. She has a powerful rival in Princess Amneris. Radames brings back Aida's father as captive; he forces his daughter to trick her lover (Radames) into betraying military secrets.

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Amadeus

By F. Murray Abraham, Tom Hulce, Elizabeth Berridge, Simon Callow

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Adapted from Shaffer's play, the film presents the life of Antonio Salieri, a mediocre 18th century Viennese composer obsessed with and jealous of the musical genius of the age, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

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Beethoven: The Composer as Hero

By Philippe A. Autexier

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To be a musician and to be deaf: that alone would have made Beethoven a tragic hero. But his heroic stature goes beyond the pathos of his condition. Beethoven left his mark in his magnificent sonatas, symphonies, and his chamber music--among the most beautiful ever written. Set against the stormy background of European political upheaval, the intellectual ferment of Vienna, and the love affairs, friendships, and quarrels of his private life, here is the story of Beethoven, the father of Romantic music.

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Benjamin Britten: A Biography

By Humphrey Carpenter

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The author has used Britten's diaries, letters and manuscripts to construct this full-scale biography of the great English composer. The book concentrates on Britten's personal triumphs and struggles - his long "marriage" to tenor Peter Pears, the production and successes of his major works, his frequent depression and self-doubt, and his dangerously close friendships with young boys.

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Carmen

By Georges Bizet

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Carmen, a gypsy woman working in a cigar factory in Seville, enchants and bewitches the soldier Don José. He longingly obeys her commands and helps her escape arrest, although she was under his guard. Unfortunately, this action places
Don José in prison instead. Upon his release, he seeks out Carmen at the tavern of Lillas Pastia, and there decides to cast his lot in with Carmen and her smuggler friends, at the cost of his military career. Now immersed in a struggle to keep up with the smugglers as well as preserve his claim on Carmen, Don José unravels.

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Cosi Fan Tutte

By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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The setting is in 18th-century Naples. Two young suitors, Ferrando and Guglielmo, take up a wager with the older and wiser Don Alfonso that the moment they turn their backs, their sweethearts, the sisters Dorabella and Fiordiligi, will forget them and fall in love with the first person who comes along. To make sure that they can see this for themselves, he tells the two young men to disguise themselves as foreigners, who have heard of the beautiful sisters and to woo them--and so the fun begins.

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Der Ring des Nibelungen

By Richard Wagner

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Commonly referred to as "The Ring", it contains four operas. The plot revolves around a magic ring that grants the power to rule the world, forged by the Nibelung dwarf Alberich from gold stolen from the river Rhine. Several mythic figures struggle for possession of the Ring, including Wotan (Odin), the chief of the Gods. Wotan's scheme, spanning generations, to overcome his limitations, drives much of the action in the story. The hero Siegfried wins the Ring, as Wotan intended, but is eventually betrayed and slain. Finally, the Valkyrie Brünnhilde, Siegfried's lover and Wotan's estranged daughter, returns the Ring to the Rhine. In the process, the Gods are destroyed. "The Ring" is not for the novice listener.

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Don Giovanni

By Ruggero Raimondi, John Macurdy, Edda Moser, Kiri Te Kanawa

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This is the screen adapatation of Mozart's greatest opera. Don Giovanni, the infamous womanizer, makes one conquest after another until the ghost of Donna Anna's father, the Commendatore, (whom Giovanni killed) makes his appearance. He offers Giovanni one last chance to repent for his multitudinious improprieties. He will not change his ways. So, he is sucked down into hell by evil spirits. High drama, hysterical comedy, magnificent music!

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Don Giovanni

By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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The story, set in 17th-century Seville, centers around a young nobleman who is obsessed with amorous conquest. It follows his romantic exploits and continued encounters with Donna Anna, the woman who plots to destroy him. Cast includes Kiri Te Kanawa, Jose van Dam & Teresa Berganza. Available in DVD, VHS,CDs Plus CD highlight versions.

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Eugene Onegin

By Piotr Tchaikovsky

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In the opulent St. Petersburg of the Empire period, Eugene Onegin is a jaded but dashing aristocrat - a man often lacking in empathy, who suffers from restlessness, melancholy and, finally, regret. Through his best friend Lensky, Onegin is introduced to the young Tatiana. A passionate and virtuous girl, she soon falls hopelessly under the spell of the aloof newcomer and professes her love for him. His refusal of her (in addition to his other amorous intrigues) sets in motion a series of events which culminate in tragedy and thwarted love. The library has a DVD of this lyric opera as well as the original novel in verse by Pushkin.

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