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Using opera/classical music in films for festivals.

I want to use a piece of music by Mozart in my film but I want the 3 singers to be in vision. Firstly, where do I go to find classical singers that would do this on a limited budget. Also, I understand Mozart is out of copyright as it's so old, but are there any recordings of performances that I can use cheaply, or even for free?

  • We've aged enough now in this industry to be able benefit from some of the early high fidelity recordings of classical music where the music, performance and mechanical production are all out of copyright. They'll be on ancient vinyl so might need a bit of audio post tweaking; though I've found a couple of records that are pretty damn good. Check out some of the early Soviet era Russian orchestral recordings that were not party to any enforceable conventions in effect today. There's a treasure trove of post copyright material there.

    5 years ago
  • may be a place to start... with your singers miming along.

    Alternatively, if you really want to record it live (and this is not easy to get right for cheap), try your local music college to find singers.

    5 years ago
  • Thanks both. Paddy, that link you posted is amazingly helpful. Is everything on that site free to use?
    My local music collage, the Welsh college of music and drama are interested, but I'm guessing by the hourly prices that the cost would run into the thousands. John, I'll try the Russian recordings also. thanks

    5 years ago
  • Check the license terms on for individual items but their ethos is very much one of the importance of preserving the public domain, so as good a place to start as any.

    5 years ago
  • Soviet recordings - there was copyright

    and IANAL but based on the precedent that term changes have pushed some out of copyright works back into copyright, chances are that now those old Soviet works have copyright terms as per global norms.

    Orphan works might be safe, but any work by an organisation which is still in existence should best be avoided UNLESS you can be sure that it is out of copyright.

    5 years ago
  • Although some lawyers might greet the anomalous situation of Soviet era intellectual and mechanical property as an opportunity to make money the basics seem quite simple.

    Until 1973 Russia was not a member of any effective international convention. Property that was created or first published/distributed after 1973 became enforceable internationally under Universal Copyright Protection but such property that was already in the public domain prior to 1973 was not so protected. There have been test cases in both the USA and UK to determine that. So any such property that was created in the Soviet Union before 1973 and was not duly registered under any other international convention at that time may, with some doubt, only be liable to Russian legislation

    In practice the use of a recording by a pre 1973 Soviet orchestra of an out of copyright composers work is very unlikely to face an effective challenge. What one needs to know however, is whether or not such a recording was successfully copyrighted internationally beyond the Soviets unrecognised legislation prior to the 1973 Soviet accession to the International convention. Plenty were not and by default are wholly in the public domain.

    5 years ago
  • Licences can be obtained here for classical music. It's very good value and a £22 licence will clear the track for copyright, up to 10K downloads, and even public Tv I think. For £122, you can obtain a licence for pretty everything. They have most classical music covered.

    5 years ago
  • Tony, this website is amazing. I can't believe I didn't know about it! Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks.

    5 years ago
  • That does sound like a good deal Tony. Must check it out. As always though, the devil is in the detail.

    5 years ago
  • Yes, I spent a lot of time with a similar issue myself and was really happy to find this site. I think it offers pretty good terms and I think you can also use the music on as many projects as possible.

    I think it was thought up in the spirit that the music should be available at a fair and limited cost considering that the composers work is in the public domain. I've just purchased about 12 tracks last month.

    5 years ago
  • Excellent deals from that site. Although for poverty stricken projects it's still worth considering early out of copyright Soviet recordings where extensive use of differing tracks are required and there's little or no budget. For example five differing cues from that website would cost £610 as compared with zero from the Moscow Philharmonic HiFi LP release of 1965.

    Affordability is entirely relative.

    5 years ago
  • argh! link doesn't work anymore:(

    1 year ago