New (and classic) DVDs at Te Awe

Here are the new DVDs we’ve added to the catalogue between August and October, available at our CBD Te Awe branch, and selected other locations, to borrow or reserve.

We have both recent releases of 2023 films and re-releases of some cinema classics, including Avatar, Forrest Gump, and Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet.

Triangle of sadness
The portable door
Death in paradise. Series twelve
The passengers of the night
Paris, 13th district
My old school
Armageddon time
Dungeons & dragons. Honor among thieves
Creed. III

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Staff Picks: DVDs and Blu-Rays at the Library

Stumped for something to watch this weekend? Here are some DVDS and Blu-Rays that our library staff have enjoyed watching recently, featuring a range of new arrivals and deep-cut classics from the collection.

Shinji’s Picks

She said – Maria Schrader

The banshees of Inisherin – Martin McDonagh

Both sides of the blade – Claire Denis

The passengers of the night – Mikhael Hers

Triangle of sadness – Ruben Ostlund

Wheel of fortune and fantasy – Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Paris, 13th district – Jacques Audiard

Pearl – Ti West

The velvet queen – Marie Amiguet, Vincent Munier

Accident – Joseph Losey

She SaidThe Banshees of InisherinBoth Sides of the BladeThe Passengers of the NightTriangle of SadnessWheel of Fortune and FantasyParis, 13th DistrictPearlThe Velvet QueenAccident

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Operatic Highlights at WCL

NZ Opera’s production of Mozart’s Così fan tutte at the St James Theatre (14—18 June) seemed like the perfect time to display some of WCL’s collection of operatic treasurers at Te Awe Library.  Across our branches, and at Te Pātaka, there are many books, CDs, and DVDs concerned with the art form that Samuel Johnson famously called an ‘exotic and irrational entertainment’.  This blog introduces some well-known, and some less familiar, highlights that formed part of the Te Awe display. Mozart and the enlightenment : truth, virtue, and beauty in Mozart’s operas / Till, Nicholas
Nicholas Till examines Mozart’s operas through the lens of Enlightenment sensibility, drawing together the strands of history, theology, sociology, literary theory, and even some psychology to anatomize the motivation and vision behind Mozart’s operas. Mozart’s collaborations with librettist Lorenzo da Ponte —Le nozze di Figaro (1786), Don Giovanni (1787) and Così fan tutte (1790) — each receive detailed contextual and musical analysis that considers Mozart’s own intellectual stance on philosophy and politics in that revolutionary decade. Till’s provocative hypotheses and detailed reasoning, combined with his clear fascination with Mozart’s operas, result in a stimulating and highly satisfying exploration of the significance of Mozart’s operas in the eighteenth century and in society today.

The young Kiri : the early recordings, 1964-70 / Te Kanawa, Kiri A colour photograph of Kiri te Kanawa when young. She is looking to the left. Her hair is shoulder length, and she is wearing a red stole with a striped pattern, and smiling gently.
This two-disc set of Dame Kiri te Kanawa’s early recordings offers a compelling aural portrait of the young singer, at the start of an extraordinary career.  CD 1 is devoted to arias and art song, with Puccini especially well-represented in extracts from La bohèmeTosca, and Turandot, as well as showpiece arias from Johann Strauss’s Die Federmaus and Gounoud’s Faust among other treasures. CD 2 turns to musical theatre and popular song, demonstrating te Kanawa’s versatility in different styles of singing. A number of ensembles and collaborating musicians also make an appearance: the NZBC Orchestra, organist Peter Averi, singer Hohepa Mutu, and harpist Dorothea Franchi.

Fashion designers at the opera / Matheopoulos, Helena
Gianni Versace created a stunning dress for Kiri te Kanawa in Strauss’s Capriccio at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in 1990; Zandra Rhodes has designed costumes for Verdi’s Aida, Mozart’s Magic Flute, and Bizet’s Pearl Fishers; the bejeweled gown worn by Mélisande in Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande at the Stadttheater Klagenfurt transformed the character into a source of golden light in a world of sinister, oppressive darkness. These are just a few examples of the work that leading fashion designers have produced for opera productions around the world, responding to the challenge of creating costumes in which performers can move and sing. Helena Matheopoulos profiles many many figures from the world in this collection of interviews, sketches, and resplendent full-color illustrations of the costumes in production.

Hänsel und Gretel : opera in three acts
When Richard Strauss conducted the premiere of Engelbert Humperdinck’s  Hänsel und Gretel at Weimar in 1893, he declared the piece a ‘masterpiece of the highest quality’. This 2011 production is a musical and visual feast, the action shifted from the terror-ridden Ilsenstein forest to a modern urban setting. Gretel and her brother live in a house of cardboard boxes, which they share with their loving but poverty-stricken parents. Rather than finding a gingerbread cottage, the habitation of  Rosine Leckermaul (the witch) is amid the aisles of a supermarket offering every alluring and mass-produced confection. This production is superbly cast, every singer inhabiting the style with energy. Of special note is Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke’s turn as a matriarchal yet terrifying witch. Humperdink’s music is a captivating fusion of orchestral opulence and gemütlich spirit that draws on more than a century of German Romanticism, from Schubert and Weber to Wagner and Mahler.

The only way is up : reflections on a life in opera / McIntyre, Donald
It is impossible to summarise the career of Donald McIntyre in a paragraph, but fortunately The Only Way is Up more than compensates. A page-turning memoir of life as an aspirant All Black, and then as one of the foremost exponents of Wagner’s music, The Only Way is Up charts the successes and surprises of working on the stages of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and the Festspielhaus at Bayreuth. McIntyre’s stories include appearances by leading conductors, directors, and fellow singers too numerous to mention here, but a particular highlight is McIntyre’s role in Patrice Chereau’s extraordinary ‘Centennial’ Ring Cycle at Bayreuth, a series of productions that revolutionized the staging of Wagner’s music dramas.

Dido and Aeneas : opera in three acts
Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas brings together opera and dance in a collaboration between the Royal Opera, and Royal Ballet at Covent Garden, with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by John Eliot Gardiner. A musical and visual spectacle, Wayne McGregor’s contemporary choreography fuses with Purcell’s music, realising in the dancers’ movement many of the intricacies in the score. Sarah Connolly (Dido) and Lucas Meachum (Aeneas) imbue their roles with magnificence befitting their royal status, Dido’s descent into despair truly wrenches the heart as she is undone by the witches’ cruelty. Although this production met with mixed responses in 2009, mainly to do with the size of the stage in relation to the intimacy of Purcell’s opera, McGregor’s seems vision is more successful on screen, where the cameras bring us closer to the action.

The partnership : Brecht, Weill, three women, and Germany on the brink / Katz, Pamela
Although the partnership between Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht is well-documented, Pamela Katz is the first author to bring to the fore the roles played by Lotte Lenya, Helene Weigel, and Elizabeth Hauptmann in the creation and performance of Weill and Brecht’s operas. Brech and Weill’s deconstruction and subversion of operatic conventions in The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny and The Threepenny Opera have been the subject of much research and discussion, but the significant involvement and influence of Weigel, Hauptmann, and Lenya in the creative process have never been adequately examined. This book does so, charting the development and early performance history of the operas in the tumultuous years of the Weimar Republic, as well as their creators’ flight from Germany in 1933.

Southern voices : international opera singers of New Zealand / Simpson, Adrienne
Adrienne /ref=ase_wellingtoncit-21 Simpson and Peter Downes dedicated this book to the singers it profiles. Southern Voices is a trove of insights into the careers and reflections of a succession of truly great artists. The singers reflect on their early training and the formative experiences in local choirs and competitions that set them on the path to the most august heights of their profession.  Malvina Major’s recollections of her triumph as Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviglia at the 1968 Salzburg Festival, working with Claudio Abbado; Inia te Wiata’s creation of roles in operas by Benjamin Britten; Patricia Payne overcame homesickness and uncertainty at the Opera Centre in London to find musical fulfilment on the concert platform before becoming a soloist with Covent Garden’s permanent company, and a guest soloist in productions all over Europe and the USA; Barry Mora’s successes in many roles over several seasons at Gelsenkirchen, before joining the permanent ensemble at the Frankfurt Opera, where experimental and provocative productions made the company a provocative centre of Regietheater in the 1980s. These stories, and many more, make Southern Voices a fascinating source of history, reinforcing the remarkable achievements of New Zealand singers on the international scene.

The birth of an opera : fifteen masterpieces from Poppea to Wozzeck / Rose, Michael
Michael Rose slices through centuries of myth-making and romanticising to document the creation of fifteen operas, from Monteverdi’s Poppea (first performed in 1643) to Berg’s Wozzeck (1925). Rose examines the manifold complexities of making operas, including the composers’ selection of libretti and collaboration with librettists (for example, the partnerships between Mozart and Lorenzo da Ponte, and Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal), the challenges and benefits of aristocratic patronage, grappling with censors, and parrying hostile critics and cabals. A rich array of primary sources, including exchanges of letters between composers and their collaborators, treatise extracts, and aesthetic manifesti, illuminate the making of FidelioOtelloTurandot among other works.

Pene Pati
Tenor Pene Pati is equally well-known here as an outstanding operatic tenor, and one-third of  Sol3Mio.In the last five years, Pati’s career has been spectacularly ascendent. Currently performing the role of Rodolfo in Puccini’s La bohème at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris — a role he will reprise in Toronto with the Canadian Opera Company later this year — Pati’s recent schedule has seen him perform in Monte Carlo, Naples, Prague, and Berlin. In 2021, Pati signed an exclusive recording contract with Warner Classics, and this, his debut album, includes extracts from some of the operas in which his recent performances have earned particular acclaim: Verdi’s Rigoletto, Gounoud’s Romeo et Juliette, and Donizetti’s L’Elisir d’amore

Opera, or, The undoing of women / Clement, Catherine
A foundational text in feminist musicology, Opera, or, The Undoing of Women (originally published in French as L’Opéra ou la Défaite des femmes in 1979) was contentious when it was first published in French 1979, and remains controversial today. As one of the first critical studies to apply feminist theory to the plots and texts of operas, considering specifically the situation of opera’s female characters, Clément unpicks the fates of Turandot, Cio-Cio San, Lucia, Tatiana, Violetta, Tosca, Isolde. Her analysis identifies several plot and character archetypes, to demonstrate how ’19th-century opera perpetuates a social order which requires either the death or the domestication of the female protagonist.’ Although Clément’s musical analyses are unsophisticated, her poetic language remains compelling, while her arguments remain relevant and provocative nearly 45 years after the book’s first appearance.




New DVDs at Te Awe

Here are the new DVDs we’ve added to the catalogue over March, April and May, available at our CBD Te Awe branch and selected other locations to borrow or reserve.

Take back
Little kingdom
Seriously Red
Rogue agent
The road dance
The menu
Doc Martin. Complete series ten
Bones and all
Black Panther. Wakanda forever
Young Rock. Season two
Where is Anne Frank
Wheel of fortune and fantasy
Recipes for love & murder. Series one
Murder party
Raised by wolves. 2
Munch : love, ghosts and lady vampires
Whitney Houston : I wanna dance with somebody
Star trek, Strange new worlds. Season one
A man called Otto
Happy Valley. Series 3
The banshees of Inisherin
The Fabelmans
Death in paradise. Series eleven
The conference
The Boys. Season 3
The Auschwitz report
Whitstable Pearl. Series 2
Tupac : resurrection : in his own words
Bloodlands. Series 2
The whale
The Bob’s Burgers movie
Weird : the Al Yankovic story
What’s love got to do with it
Unforgotten. Series 5
Call the midwife. Series twelve ; Christmas special
You can go now
A stitch in time
Midsomer murders. Complete season 23
Magpie murders. Season one
Operation Fortune : ruse de guerre
Magic Mike’s last dance
Fisherman’s Friends. 2, One and all
The Madame Blanc mysteries. Series 2
The Larkins. Series 2
Knock at the cabin
Cocaine Bear
The lost King

Take BackLittle KingdomSeriously RedRogue AgentThe Road DanceThe MenuDoc Martin. Complete series tenBones and AllBlack Panther. Wakanda foreverYoung Rock. Season TwoWhere is Anne FrankWheel of Fortune and FantasyMurder PartyRaised by Wolves. 2Munch : love, ghosts and lady vampiresWhitney Houston : I wanna dance with somebodyStar Trek. Strange New WorldsA Man Called OttoHappy Valley. Series 3The Banshees of InisherinTransfusionM3GANThe FabelmansDeath in Paradise. Series ElevenThe ConferenceThe Boys. Season ThreeBabylonThe Auschwitz ReportWhitstable Pearl. Series TwoTupac : resurrection : in his own wordsBloodlands. Series 2EmilyThe WhaleThe Bob Burger's MovieBluebackWeird: The Al Yankovic StoryTárWhat's Love Got To Do With It?Unforgotten. Series FiveMissingCall the midwife. Series twelve ; Christmas specialYou Can Go NowA Stitch In TimeMidsomer Murders. Complete Season 23Magpie Murders. Season OneOperation Fortune : Ruse De GuerreMagic Mike's Last DanceFisherman's Friends 2. One And AllTombstonePearlThe Madame Blanc Mysteries. Series 2The Larkins. Series 2Knock At The CabinCocaine BearThe Lost King

Women on the Podium: 20th & 21st century conductors imagined and real

The starting point for today’s blog about recent arrivals in our classical recordings collection is Music from and inspired by the motion picture TárTodd Field’s 2022 psychological drama about conductor Lydia Tár — an ambitious, driven, but chaotic woman (ferociously realised by Cate Blanchett) who is appointed director of the Berlin Philharmonic —has won many awards and been nominated for many more.  Tár has also proved divisive for its depictions of the musical world and for its presentation of Lydia Tár as a woman and conductor in a profession where male composers and conductors still dominate the repertory and the podium. John Mauceri has summarised the debate in a pithy New York Times op-ed.  Deutsche Grammophon has also climbed aboard the Tár train with a ‘multi-faceted concept album‘ that includes new pieces by Hildur Guðnadóttir alongside extracts from Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor, and Mahler’s Symphony No. 5. The concept behind the album, as director Todd Field explains, is ‘to invite the listener to experience the messiness involved in the making of music’ and the CD includes spoken-word content, rehearsal discussion, and short takes from recording sessions.  If you have seen, loved, or loathed Tár, here is a great opportunity to hear new work by Guðnadóttir. The music is performed by the London Contemporary Orchestra, Dresden Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, and the New Trombone Collective, with Cate Blanchett herself at the helm.

Turning from the world of fictional conductors to real ones, here is a selection of CDs, DVDs, and books by and about some eminent women currently at the top of their profession.

Candide / Bernstein, Leonard
One conductor whose criticism of Tár has been vociferous is one of the most eminent in her profession Marin Alsop, the first woman to be appointed director of a major USA orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony, in 2007. After gaining degrees in violin performance at Julliard School, Alsop was rejected three times by their conducting programme, before finding success by founding her own ensembles. In 1989 she won the Koussevitsky Prize for conducting at the Tanglewood Festival, the first time that the prize was awarded to a woman. At this Festival she also met Leonard Bernstein, who would become her mentor. Since that time, Alsop has conducted many of the world’s major orchestras in concerts and recordings. In 2013, at the time when she conducted the Last Night of the Proms, Alsop spoke of some of the residual prejudices facing women who wanted to conduct. Here, Alsop conducts a live semi-staged performance of Candide by her mentor Leonard Bernstein, three decades after he recorded the piece with the same orchestra. Guided by Alsop, the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus play and sing with precision and wit. The cast includes Leonardo Capalbo (Candide) Anne Sofie von Otter (The Old Lady), Thomas Allen (Dr. Pangloss), Jane Archer (Cunegonde), and Marcus Farnsworth (Maximilian). All the singers bring the acerbic text (with contributions from Dorothy Parker, Richard Wilbur, and Stephen Sondheim) to life with their committed characterizations.

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Kath’s Reviews: Film and Television

Kia ora!  I’m Kath, one of the Community Librarians and I’m an avid film and television viewer.  I’m regularly diving deep into the excellent DVD collection we have at Wellington City Libraries, as well as content from Beamafilm and Kanopy — the two streaming platforms available to Wellington City Libraries customers.

In this series of posts, I’m hoping to share some of the gems I come across each month with Pōneke film and television enthusiasts! Some of those I’ve watched recently include:

DVD cover for Moonage DaydreamMoonage Daydream (DVD)
This gorgeous documentary is narrated by Bowie himself, taken from archival footage and recordings.  Covering his professional life from his early days as a teenage saxophone player through to his final magnificent work Black Star, released on his birthday in 2016, two days before he passed.  The viewer is given an insight into his life, philosophy and incredible artistic talent.  I’ve been a fan since my teenage years and had a good cry by the end, I only wish there would be more of his work come to light in the future.

Best bit: snippets of unseen interviews with Bowie himself.

DVD cover of The Lost CityThe Lost City (DVD)
A delightfully silly movie.  Think Romancing the Stone starring Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas, but a modern version.  Sandra Bullock is at her comedy best, and Channing Tatum is a perfect partner for this duo adventure-comedy.  I found myself absolutely guffawing with laughter in some parts and there’s just enough heart to the story to keep you invested.  Daniel Radcliffe has lots of fun chewing the scenery as the villain, and Brad Pitt has a cameo as the cheesiest character ever.

Best bit: Look for the wheelbarrow and Brad Pitt’s hair.

Ans WestraAns Westra (Ans Westra – Private Journeys / Public Signposts) (Beamafilm)
I actually watched this a few weeks ago, before the sad news of Ans Westra’s passing.  This one is available on both DVD and through Beamafilm.  Being relatively new to Aotearoa, I was not aware of Ans Westra’s work until recently.  On viewing her amazing photographs through Wellington City Recollect, I was curious to find out more about this talented photographer.  I found this short documentary fascinating and it’s chock full of her work, as well as stories about the controversies some of her photographs have stirred over the years.

DVD Cover for Nude TuesdayNude Tuesday: A Comedy in Gibberish (DVD)
Another fun, silly film, but one done very cleverly.  This New Zealand film was created with gibberish dialogue which was then subtitled by British comedian Julia Davis.  I’ll watch anything with Jemaine Clement in it, but I can assure you the whole cast does a fantastic job in this film.  Couple Bruno and Laura find themselves in a retreat to attempt to save their marriage, and of course the “guru” leading the retreat is Jemaine Clement as Bjorg.  Lots of laughs and a story that has heart.  I loved how beautifully the nude scenes were handled in this film, there was something magical about them after all the silliness of the first two thirds of the film.

Best Bit: ICY POOL!

DVD cover of Good Luck to You Leo GrandeGood Luck to You Leo Grande (DVD)
An intimate film that feels like a stage play.  Emma Thompson plays Nancy, a widowed school teacher who is looking for intimacy, adventure and sex.  She hires sex worker Leo Grande, whom she meets in a hotel room.  Nancy is nervous, but Leo knows how to put people at ease.  This film explores womanhood, pleasure, regret, secrets, family and  so much more.  Both Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack give fantastic performances and it’s a refreshing perspective we don’t often see in film.

Best bit: How can anyone go past Emma Thompson?  She’s one of the best in the business!  Mind you, Daryl McCormack is talented and also very easy on the eyes.

DVD cover for Gloriavale: New Zealand's Secret CultGloriavale: New Zealand’s Secret Cult (DVD)
This is a sensitively made documentary into the Gloriavale community and how those in power have treated the vulnerable members of the sect.  Told from the perspective of those who have left the community and the people in the regular world who are supporting the leavers, this documentary film is bringing the injustices of the organisation into light.  It is compelling viewing and many of the participants are telling their stories for the first time.

DVD cover for Everything Everywhere All At OnceEverything Everywhere All at Once (DVD)
What can I say about this movie?  Let’s start with it being the best film I’ve seen in quite some years.  It’s currently sweeping all of the awards in Hollywood for it’s cast, directors and the film itself.  Beautifully acted, lots of twists and turns and what you think is an absurd storyline all comes together beautifully and breathlessly.  The entire cast is incredible, the martial arts scenes are mind blowing and there is a deep heart to the story.  Do not miss this film.

Best Bit: Ke Huy Quan’s fight scene with the bum bag.  Or perhaps Raccacoonie.  Or the googly eyes.  Or hotdog fingers.  Wait, maybe the fight with the tiny dog.  Oh don’t make me choose!

What have you been watching from our collection of late?  Recommend a documentary or film for us in the comments below.