Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Barnes & Noble Exclusive: The Phantom of the Opera at the Albert Hall on DVD and Blu-ray

Barnes & Noble exclusive release of the DVD includes bonus
souvenir program. (photos: TheHopefulTraveler)
Much like how Walmart or Target distribute exclusive versions of compact discs and DVDs, Barnes & Noble has done the same. The exclusive versions sold by these retailers mainly include additional material that is not included in the versions sold elsewhere.

The latest Barnes & Noble exclusive is the DVD/Blu-ray release of "The Phantom of the Opera at the Albert Hall in Celebration of 25 Years". Unlike their exclusive CD releases of the 2008 'South Pacific' and 2009 'West Side Story' New Broadway Cast Recordings, the Phantom 25th DVD/Blu-ray discs themselves do not include any additional material and includes all the same material sold at other stores and online.

The B&N exclusive is a bonus 24-page mini-reproduction of the celebration's souvenir program. The program does not includes only highlight pages from the original program sold at the show.. But what makes this mini program a collectible is the credit for Wendy Ferguon who played Carlotta at the event. Due to an illness, the scheduled actress, Keira Duffy, could not perform. However Duffy's name and photo had already been included in the printing of the original full-sized programs.

Click HERE to purchase the DVD or HERE for the Blu-ray from barnesandnoble.com. Be sure the product description online says "Barnes & Noble Exclusive". The version I purchased at my local B&N store had no sticker or anything on the cover to indicate it as such. But the sales associate assured me the program was included and indeed it was once I opened the packaging.

Above and below: Pages from the souvenir program in the DVD package.
The program includes a credit for Wendy Ferguson (above center) which
was in the original program sold at the event.

Now I have mixed feelings regarding these exclusives. First of all the exclusive versions are not widely publicized so you may have already purchased the item elsewhere not knowing there was an exclusive and being a collector you may have to pay for another copy to obtain the additional material.

Secondly these exclusives can get out of hand if you are looking for a definitive version. For example Sony Masterworks released three versions of the 2009 'West Side Story' New Broadway Cast Recording. There was the standard version sold in most stores that included 16 tracks. Then there was the iTunes release which included 18 tracks. The two additional songs was "A Boy LIke That/I Have a Love" sung in English (in the show the song is performed in Spanish) and "Jump" instrumental track.

However the Barnes & Noble release of the recording included 19 tracks. The three additional tracks were different from the bonus tracks on the iTunes release: "I Feel Pretty" sung in English (this song also performed in Spanish in the show) and two instrumental tracks of "Somewhere" and "Tonight".

Thirdly these exclusives are limited releases so once they're gone, they're gone. Luckily the iTunes version of this 'West Side Story' is still available but if you already own the CD, you would have to purchase the entire recording on iTunes. The bonus tracks are not available for individual sale.

If you do get these exclusives and know that they are such, you will probably feel you got something extra rare once the original stock is sold out.

I am happy I was aware of these and other exclusives sold at these stores as I was able to purchase them before they were no longer available. However I know I would be disappointed if I was a fan of these productions and lost out on getting one of the exclusives.


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