Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Wagner - Der Ring des Nibelungen / Levine Metropolitan Opera |
Complete Ring Cycle
Actors: Hildegard Behrens, Siegfried Jerusalem, Matti Salminen, Christa Ludwig, Anthony Raffell
Director: Brian Large
Genres: Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Musicals & Performing Arts
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It's not about the acting
E. A. Lovitt | Gladwin, MI USA | 02/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"According to the liner notes that accompany this seven-DVD set of Wagner's "Der Ring des Nibelungen," the composer had no time for critics, especially those who liked to point out a certain lack of logic in his musical dramas.(Take that, Anna Russell! - Entire careers have been based on making fun of the Ring Cycle's plot.)This Met version of the Ring under the direction of James Levine might be called 'traditional' by some and 'stodgy' by others. There are no Siegfrieds in space suits or Rhine Maidens cavorting in front of a hydroelectric dam. Special effects have been kept to a minimum--a rather tame dragon (although wonderfully sung by Matti Salminen who also is a great, brooding hulk of a Hagen), no goat-drawn chariots, no flying horses. In fact there are no horses at all, which makes for a slightly surreal funeral scene in 'Götterdämmerung' where Brünnhilde is supposed to sing to her horse, Grane, then ride him into the flames of Siegfried's funeral pyre. However, the Ring isn't about special effects or acting. It's about Wagner's glorious music. I've only seen one other Ring Cycle--Patrice Chéreau's 1976 Bayreuth production (also out on DVD)--and he (incorrectly, I think) emphasized the stage drama rather than the music. He also ignored Wagner's mythical setting and tried to turn the Ring into a statement about nineteenth-century robber-barons.Levine's version, stodgy though it may appear, emphasizes the music. This is the Ring Cycle you want to start with. It reflects the spirit of Wagner's intentions (if not quite the actual staging), and the singing is excellent. This is not the dream cast from the golden age of Wagnerian singers, but wait till you hear Jessye Norman as Sieglinde, ringing out her "Oh hehrstes Wunder!" just after her whole world comes crashing down around her. If this unearthly cry doesn't send chills down your spine, maybe Wagner isn't for you. One of the other reviewers felt that Norman was too loud for the other singers, but I think just the opposite is true. James Morris is a complex, ultimately tragic Wotan. Hildegard Behrens is a brilliant, intuitive Brünnhilde. Their final scene together in 'Die Wälküre,' as Wotan puts his daughter to sleep within a ring of fire is one of the high points of this Ring. But the one truly Wagnerian voice in this production belongs to Jessye Norman.If you'd like to learn more about Wagner's Ring Cycle, read "Wagner's Ring: Turning the Sky Round" by Father M. Owen Lee (highly recommended) or Charles Osborne's "The World Theatre of Wagner.""
Best production for Wager newcomers
Scott Chamberlain | Minneapolis, MN United States | 12/03/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Ring" cycles are almost sure to inspire controversy. The outrageous scenic demands, the fantasy elements, the horrific demands on the singers make it almost impossible to fully realize Wagner's vision. And everyone who has tried to stage the operas has had to make compromises, gloss over difficulties, and make due with what they have at their disposal. The Met Ring represents the neo-romantic approach to the operas, which for most casual viewers or opera "newbies" will probably make this the first choice for watching the cycle at home. Granted, many critics and opera affecianatos have hated this production. They have called it "too lush," "too old fashioned" or "too easy." But it is these elements which will make the opera comprehensible to the newcomer. Some of the more modern productions have been visually interesting, and indeed made the viewer rethink the story and its meaning to contemporary audiences. But too often they zero in on one aspect or meaning to the expense of others. Chereau's Industrial Ring was a fascinating production, but after awhile I couldn't get past some jarring inconsistencies, especially the clash between the fantasy elements and the gritty "real world" in which it was set. Why would Alberich want to control a magic ring, when he could organize a union or lead a workers' revolt? How is it that the world could progress into the Industrial Age but not understand the concept of money? Does taking an elevator really convey the descent into the underground caverns of the dwarves? And so on -- a mechanical dragon, the forging scene all seem even more silly when forced into "reality." Other staged productions fare no better... watching the laser show of another production brings to mind a late night stoner session watching Pink Floyd. Others have twisted the story so much that characters show up at inappropriate (and unscripted) times, new endings are tacked on, and so forth... all in the name of making the operas "relevant." Herein lies the strength of the Met's production - it tries to bring Wagner's vision to life, not that of some ambitious director. Set in a fantasy world of gods, heroes, and magic, the story flows more naturally and the elements have broader resonance. The sets, lighting, and presentation of the opera are particular strengths of this DVD. I doubt if the Rhineland has ever come to life in such a brilliant, visually stunning way, and those who fell under the spell of the recent "Lord of the Rings" movies should find many similarities here. The singing is not quite the caliber of the "golden age" but is generally fine. Levine and the orchestra are in tip-top form here... rarely do opera's sound this good! The acting is not this production's greatest strength, but several performers do quite well. Ludwig, Morris, Beherns are quite good, an Jerusalem is one of the better Siegfrieds around. Sure, viewers can ultimately move on to more complex productions, but this is the best place to start for those hoping to make that first plunge into Wagner's Ring."
Made me the opera nut that I am!
sensibility25 | Lancaster, Pennsylvania | 06/17/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can't begin to say how much this production of Der Ring des Nibelungen has meant to me. I first saw it when it aired on TV back in 1990. I was eight years old, and was hooked. My parents were somewhat surprised that I was so into it - and although it's certainly an impressive thing to be interested in at eight, I wasn't allowed to stay up late to watch the endings! The whole collection of operas, the beautiful music and the magical stories had me completely captivated. It started my whole love of opera, and made me a Wagner fan for life. I was so glad that they finally released this version on DVD. Frankly, I didn't want to see any other - it was this one that meant so much to me. Hildegard Behrens has a voice from the heavens, and I for one was not surprised when she was acclaimed "The greatest living Brunnhilde." She deserves it. Apart from an amazing voice, she has the face and figure to carry off the role, and does a beautiful job. However the one who stole the show for me was Siegfried Jerusalem. He takes on two roles here: Loge and Siegfried, and brings such a youthful energy to the part - he IS Siegfried. I can't imagine anyone doing a better job. Some reviewers have commented on this bogging down at times and being slow-paced. Remember folks, we're talking about 15 hours of Wagner. You'd have to be crazy to try and watch it all at once. But if it could keep an eight-year-old perfectly still for four nights in a row - that definately says something. Lavine's conducting is respectful to the music, and doesn't rush it. The first American-born conductor at the Met to tackle Wagner's Ring does a first-class job. True, there are parts that tend to drag - but that's unavoidable. They are few and far between. The stories of the operas and the fabulous music is top-notch. I can't recommend this set more."
The difinitive recording of the ring on DVD
Eugene Merrett | London, London United Kingdom | 11/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Many Wagner snobs may decry the traditional staging - but what use is modern new wave stagings unless you have seen the orginal first. is it helpful for a first time Ring viewer to see Valkyries on bicycles for example. As most people will not have seen the ring on stage this traditional version must be welcome.I loved Levines thoughtful reflective reading on the music score. The singer is as good as it can be - all the big Wagner stars were in this production. It may not compare with the great cast ensembled for Solti landmark audio recording but what can? For those of us who cannot understand German the subtitle is a godsend). My understanding of Wagner has made a quantum leap! The importance of subtitles cannot be underestimated for this work because the total integration of words and music. In fact even if you can follow German I think that you would understand it better with the subtitles (in German).The sound is superb esp in DTS - better then the CDs of either Barenboim or Solti. One other great thing about DVD and Wagner is that only two DVD are needed for each opera. So you can listen to your favorite bits without the hassle of changing DVDAfter the release of this DVD I do not think I will ever listen to my CDs again. I probably want even bother seeing the Ring again on stage!Highly recommened"