Blu-ray

Strauss: Salome (The Royal Opera)

Strauss: Salome (The Royal Opera)

Nadja Michael (Salome); Michaela Schuster (Herodias); Thomas Moser (Herod); Joseph Kaiser (Narraboth); Michael Volle (Jokanaan);

"Nadia Michael's Salome can sing and dance with comparable flair and accuracy. Thomas Moser's Herod is genuinely moving...The orchestra plays spendidly under Philippe Jordan and Jonathan Haswell's photography is more imaginative than the work of his colleague at La Scala." (The Penguin Guide)

Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress (Glyndebourne)

Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress (Glyndebourne)

Topi Lehtipuu (Tom Rakewell); Miah Persson (Anne Trulove); Matthew Rose (Nick Shadow);

"Topi Lehtipuu as Tom is very fine too. He captures very well indeed Tom’s love for Anne, which is genuine and will be his salvation, but which he abandons by weakness of will. Miah Persson is adorable as Anne. She brings out beautifully the vulnerability of the character, but crucially she has brilliantly understood the steely determination present in Anne’s music, and acts it out, both physically and vocally, to perfection. The smaller roles are beautifully taken, and the chorus sings and acts splendidly. Time and again I was struck, as never before, by the sheer beauty of the sound of this work, and the orchestra plays magnificently under the inspiring direction of Vladimir Jurowski...Rapturously received in many quarters, you are likely to love it or hate it. Either way, there is no question, this life-enhancing DVD from Glyndebourne is truly special and not to be missed." (Musicweb International)

Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress (La Monnaie)

Stravinsky: The Rake's Progress (La Monnaie)

Laura Claycomb (Anne Trulove); Andrew Kennedy (Tom Rakewell); William Shimell (Nick Shadow); Julianne Young (Mother Goose); Dagmar Peckova (Baba the Turk);

"Lepage has forged a reputation as one of the mostvisionary theatre directors of our age...The Rake’s Progress is heading our way, and it promises to be ahighlight of the 2007/8 season." (The Sunday Times)

Szymanowski: Król Roger (The Royal Opera)

Szymanowski: Król Roger (The Royal Opera)

Mariusz Kwiecień (Roger II); Saimir Pirgu (Shepherd); Georgia Jarman (Roxana); Kim Begley (Edrisi); Alan Ewing (Archbishop); Agnes Zwierko (Deaconess);

"... directed with flair, clarity and intelligence by Kasper Holten. Steffen Aarfing’s setting of a tiered arena dominated by a massive sculpted head is enormously impressive..." (The Daily Telegraph ★★★★★)

Talbot: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (The Royal Ballet)

Talbot: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (The Royal Ballet)

Lauren Cuthbertson (Alice); Sergei Polunin (Jack / The Knave of Hearts); Edward Watson (Lewis Carroll/ The White Rabbit); Zenaida Yanowsky (Mother / The Queen of Hearts); Steven Macrae (Mad Hatter);

"...an imaginative treatment of a favourite story. There are extraordinary, eccentric sets and special effects; colourful, larger-than-life, argumentative characters and extraordinary costumes." (Musicweb International)

Talbot: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (The Royal Ballet)

Talbot: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (The Royal Ballet)

Lauren Cuthbertson (Alice); Federico Bonelli (Jack/The Knave of Hearts); James Hay (Lewis Carroll/The White Rabbit); Laura Morera (Mother/The Queen of Hearts); Christopher Saunders (Father/The King of Hearts); Steven McRae (Magician/The Mad Hatter); Fernando Montano (Rajah/The Caterpillar); Gary Avis (The Duchess); Paul Kay (Vicar/The March Hare); Romany Pajdak (Verger/The Dormouse); Kristen McNally (The Cook); Tristan Dyer (Footman/Fish);

"The Royal Ballet's new season gets off to a phantasmagorical start - The Royal Ballet could hardly have chosen a more eye-popping or enjoyable production with which to launch its autumn season. And this is all the more gratifying given that the ballet in question is only six years old – a mere five in its current, three-act reincarnation. Cinematic but also unmistakably balletic, Joby Talbot’s complex, theme-driven score – coruscatingly orchestrated with the help of Christopher Austin – is full of magical surprises. Expertly aided and abetted by lighting guru Natasha Katz, designer Bob Crowley has had an absolute field day too, exploiting every means at his disposal – from puppetry to projection – to send us down the rabbit-hole with the heroine. Wheeldon, meanwhile, absolutely matches his collaborator’s contributions. This is a ballet that eloquently and respectfully reflects his Royal Ballet heritage (from its three-act structure, reliance on mime, and alternation of grand waltzes and intimate pas de deux, to its very Ashtonian reliance on largely cross-dressing comedy) while nevertheless feeling entirely 21st-century and absolutely its own thing. Together with dramaturge Nicholas Wright, he brings Alice even more to the fore than she is in the book, getting her involved in the action wherever possible, and delving deep into his choreographic box of tricks to bring each of the characters she encounters distinctively alive. Laura Morera (standing in for a sadly injured Zenaida Yanowksy) absolutely nails her twin roles as Alice’s mother and (supremely) the Queen of Hearts. Also deserving of plaudits are Fernando Montaño’s impossibly slinky Caterpillar, David Yudes’s spring-loaded Frog, and Gary Avis’s operatically OTT Duchess. But top marks go, above all, to Lauren Cuthbertson. As Alice, she avoids all the possible pitfalls of an adult playing a child, bringing pathos, wide-eyed innocence and matter-of-fact resourcefulness to the character, and never forgetting, amid all the elaborate stagecraft, to dance with great delicacy and impeccably classical precision. Wheeldon created the role on her, and it still feels like the part she was born to play." (The Daily Telegraph ★★★★)