Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Wagner - Gotterdammerung / Jeannine Altmeyer Heinz Kruse Kurt Rydl Wolfgang Schone Henk Smit Hartmut Haenchen Amsterdam Opera|
Actors: Pierre Audi, Eva-Maria Bundschuh, Anne Gjevang, Hebe Dijkstra, Kirsi Tiihonen
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Ryan Morris | Chicago, IL | 09/24/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The other reviewer must not be too immersed in modern Wagner performance, because if he was, he would know that this is comparably tame as opposed to the Pappano Ring, or Barenboim, or even the recent disastrous DeBilly ring, which this considerably outdoes on every level-Brunnhilde, Orchestra, conductor, Siegfried(especially Siegfried).
I have still not seen the Rhinegold, but the Walkure was good and at times great(specifically the first act and the final farewell scene) Jeanine Altmeyer may be familiar to Wagnerites from the Janowski cycle, the first recorded in digital sound. Altmeyer's voice has deeped considerably from that performance-for the better. As in Walkure-she started out cold, even hoarse, but quickly came to form and really has only one or two rivals on DVD-Brunnhilde has been laughably horrid in DVD performance(Hildegard Behrens, Deborah Polaski, even G. Jones-for my money only Anne Evans with Barenboim was worthy and at times Linda Watson.
A curious thing is that in other rings, certain singers will do several roles, or in Karajan's case-a different singer will do the same role. But here, in each opera, the orchestra is different. In Die Walkure, the Netherlands really played well for Haenchen in a nuanced, truly revelatory performance(again the first act and act III scene III< along with act II monologue on.
Now regarding the staging. It is unique and different, but for tradionalists and modernists alike. There is very little, if anything, to offend compared to Barenboim(which is musically far superior), Boulez(which is not as shocking anymore and has therefore lost almost as of its appeal since it is for the most part musically inferior to most sets vocally). The orchestra is in the middle of the action, literally apart of the action. This may sound odd, but it works very well and doesnt distract from the music.-though I imagine it may have been difficult to concentrate seeing it live. The Amsterdamians play well here, obvioulsy they are not Bayreuth an at times I was wanting for more of a luscious string sound and more competent horn playing, but they are still first class and truly play their hearts out, much like the Netherland did earlier in the Die Walkure set.
Among Modern versions, I would recommend this over the Barenboim(mainly due to the staging)-definetly over the DeBilly-over the both Levines. The earlier Levine boasted a better Siegfried(the last true heldentenor Siegfried Jerusalem-I dont care what you think of him-he was a heldentenor---)but this Siegfried is not as bad as John Trevealen(no one is) or Manfried Jung-or Reiner Goldberg or any of the other severally deficient singers who have attempted this role on DVD, I have no idea what is going to become of our beloved operas in five or ten years because already we are seriously lacking talented singers and it is only going to get worse. This is about as good as it gets from our modern day stockpile."
Fluid and transparant music, suggestive staging
Wouter | The Netherlands | 01/13/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this Ring-cycle live in the theater in Amsterdam in 2005 when it was doing a reprise. This DVD is taken from the first cycle, back in 1999. This production delivers a stage in which the orchestra, singers and public are kind of merged into one big area in which the story takes place. The sober and suggestive staging leaves a lot of room (literally) for your fantasy. This is a place in which Gods are like men and the world they inhibit is an undefined one in terms of time and location. No horrendus and ugly "Buhnebild" here and actors who look like the've spending their nights sleeping under bridge. From the Pierre Audi-direction you can say that, when it does not lift or explain the drama any further, it does at least not interfere with the music in an annoying way. By times, it's like looking at an opera concertante. At other times, in scene's like the first appearance of Hagens men you see the rhythm and the massiveness of the musical score back on the stage without becoming a ballet. You might wish for a better direction around the action in general, but with a work of art this big there's always something to desire.
In 1999 Jeanine Altmeyer sung Brunnhilde en Heinz Kruse sung Siegfried. Although Altmeyer has definitly past her prime here, I find her performance here in Götterdammerung more then acceptable. Of course she's no match for the big names in the catalogue like Nilsson, Mödl or Flagstad but you can't blame each soccer player for not being Maradona or Pele either. For the rest of the cast; Kurt Rydl is a great Hagen, menacing en dangerous as he should be. I remember him singing this role with a soar throat. Despite that fysical handicap he really delivered the goods that night. He's definitely one of the most convincing Hagens I've seen (and heard) so far. The men he leads are reduced (if you can put it that way) till a bunch of faceless people. An army, ready to go to war if he wants them to.
The Siegfried of Heinz Kruze will not be of anyone's taste but I've had no problems with him. He looks rather funny and innocent than blunt and ignorant (it's how you see your Siegfried) but his singing is good. His murder is a good example of clumsy stagedirection; not focussed enough and as a result the drama gets clouded and incomprehensive. The immolation scene, however, works very well. Especially on screen. In the theatre you see four men waving a red drape in which Brunnhilde disappears, as she is swallowed by the fire. It looks like another example of inappropriate and disappointing staging in a Pierre Audi-production where you surely would have expect fire in the one and only scene of the opera where the orginal stage directions of Wagner said "fire". On screen, however, with its cropped image of the stage, it looks great and impressive.
Finally, a big hand of applause for Hartmut Haenchen. His approach of Wagners music, based on orginal notes taken after the Bayreuth premiere in 1876, is one of fluidity and transparency. It shows that the drama and impact of this music is best served with an approach reveilling all the layers in Wagners' music instead of a bombastic one that would turn it into something far more one-dimensional. Gotterdammerung is one of my favourite opera's in general and it still surprises me that every time I hear it there is something new to discover in the music.
I don't know how I would have experienced this registration without having seen it in the theatre first, but I would surely recommend this DVD-Götterdammerung for all Wagner-lovers.
Attack of the Gibichungs!
lensman 23 | UK | 12/13/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not totally convinced by the performances here - or how anyone can rate this Siegfried above virtually any of the others? He has a decent if not great voice, but is pretty wooden and characterless most of the time, and is pretty short to boot, meaning most of the other characters literally look down on him (even Alberich! - and possibly Mime, though I haven't seen Siegfried in this production yet, so I may be being too harsh on Siegfried).
The production itself is quite spectacular and visually interesting, provided you're not totally allergic to non-traditional staging. Given that there is a circular ramp (or ring) around the orchestra - which the actors use occasionally to good effect - it does mean that the conductor is sometimes visible in the picture. You could argue that he - i.e. the orchestra - is a character in the work (a Greek chorus), but it does rather go against Wagner's concept of the invisible orchestra.
Finally, the Gibichungs! I thought the way they make their entrance is quite disturbing. Their choreographed movements are very entertaining, although I'm not sure the idea really makes sense.
Well worth watching, even if I find the ending a bit of an anti-climax given some of the pyrotechnics elsewhere in this staging."
The Final Bold Effort
Rodney Hrvatin | Adelaide, South Australia Australia | 04/13/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When I began this cycle a few months back I couldn't wait to see it complete. Consistently this cycle has been entertaining and enjoyable. Pierre Audi's staging works and he maintains his approach right until the final chord.
The final opera is a gargantuan effort beginning with a two-hour first act (or one hour and fifty minutes under the baton of Hartmut Haenchen). The norns sing incredibly well and the whole scene is eerie and doom-laden.
The singing in this opera is pretty good. The Hagen of Kurt Rydl (who previously played Hunding in the second opera) is all menace and evil. His call to the vassals in act two is an absolute standout as is his confrontation with Alberich just prior to that.
The Gibichungs Gunter and Gutrune (Wolfgang Schone and Eva-Marie Bundschuh respectively) do a passable job but are not overly memorable (they rarely are given the characters spend most of their time being blasted to back wall by Hagen).
Heinz Kruse continues where he left off in "Siegfried" as Siegfried but it's certainly clear that his voice is tired by the time he finally tastes Hagen's spear. Jeannine Altmeyer does a great job as Brunnhilde and her immolation scene is quite brilliant- if not quite on par with Nillson and other great Brunnhilde's of their day. It's clear both leads are well into their careers but that doesn't detract from their performances here.
The Rheinmaidens sing well (even if one of them probably rued the day she had to put on such a revealing outfit).
The orchestra again is propelled along by Hartmut Haenchen and occasionally the final spit and polish is lacking but the overall feel is there and it is certainly a wild and exciting ride for all.
This is a worthy climax to a great cycle. If you don't mind a bit of non-traditional staging then this is the one for you."