This Ring has been remastered from Unitel s original High Definition tapes: video restoration has maximised picture quality in genuine 16:9 wide-screen and genuine Surround Sound has been created using ambience microphone ... more »recordings from the original performance at the Festspielhaus Bayreuth. Subtitles are provided in German English French Italian and Spanish. The package contains a detailed booklet with the synopsis cast list and an article.The Kupfer/Barenboim production was performed between 1988 and 1992 to rapturous reviews in the international press for the outstanding cast called as excellent a cast as one could assemble today with an orchestra of exceptional quality and described Daniel Barenboim s conducting as Olympian. The audio production received such praise as the best sound of any Ring on record. Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: MUSIC DVD/CONCERTS UPC: 825646231829 Manufacturer No: 623182« less
"Any new Ring Cycle attracts attention much like the proverbial elephant in the room. In this recently released Das Rheingold the elephant is not the music, which is presented with matchless professionalism by Daniel Barenboim and the legendary Bayreuth Opera. For me, at least, it is the production that is the pachyderm wandering throughout the house, occasionally smashing the good porcelain. After viewing this DVD a few times and trying to keep an open mind, Harry Kupfer's staging of the opening opera of Wagner's 4-part Ring cycle still hasn't grown on me. In fact, his staging strikes me as the weakest part of this production, filmed in June & July 1991. His ideas are not bad, per se. They're just a little banal; and in a couple of instances, his ideas are even misguided. The opera begins with a 3 minute prequel: a big smoking crater surrounded by figures who finally just wander off in silence. This is meant to suggest an historic calamity of global dimensions. These silent figures are "the survivors, about to set out anew on the journey along the road of history". A single laser beam, symbolising the Rhine, moves into the picture, constantly fanning out over an ever wider area. Then, the familiar E flat Major chord begins to unfurl 136 bars of leisurely arpeggios as the Rhine (and time) become Wagner's "cradle song of the world". The problem with this approach: such a prequel is not an artistically licensed interpretation of Wagner's score. It is an interpolation INTO Wagner's score. It changes Wagner's intent, creating a hybrid opera with an entirely different meaning. Here, humans and their history appear to predate the Gods and their involvement in the world. This is certainly not what Wagner intended.
And when we first see the Gods they are fashionably festooned by laurel garlands, floppy bardolino hats and trendy clothing made of either leather or shiny linoleum: they look less like Gods and more like Uncle Bob and Aunt Flossie on their way to a disco reunion in Boca Raton. They carry large, transparent plastic suitcases that are empty. Thor carries a clear plastic hammer. Wotan carries a gigantic Xacto knife as a spear. It all seems slightly pointless, even silly. Incidentally, the laser at the opening shines on for some 25 minutes, causing some disturbing visible distortions (during those few minutes) in the video cameras filming the opera. Anyone who's worked with video cameras knows how easily they are disrupted by E-M radiation. If you've ever placed an unshielded speaker next to your TV and seen the result (violent distortion of the picture), you know what I mean. This production error, by seasoned professionals, truly seems incomprehensible to me. Although Kupfer's staging occasionally strikes me as shallow and listless, and the transient production flaws a minor nuisance, this DVD is still excellent overall and remains strongly recommended. And that is certainly attributable to the greatness of Wagner's score, to Barenboim's emerging brilliance as a conductor in the early 1990's and to the sui generis nature of the splendid Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele playing in it's unique opera house in Bayreuth which usually makes Wagner's music sound spectacular.
The cast is very good, especially John Tomlinson as Wotan. My favorite character in Das Rheingold, reminding me of Rutger Hauer in Bladerunner, is the superb Graham Clark as the white haired punkish trickster, Loge. The rest of the large cast is also quite good. Gunter von Kannen as Alberich and Eva Johansson as Freia spring to mind for special mention. This is a fine Das Rheingold, despite the occasional mildly annoying production weaknesses that, thankfully, are never fatal.
The region code of this DVD is NTSC 1. The film is shot in color in 16:9 widescreen and looks good without distortions or artifacts other than the laser problem already discussed. The disc format is DVD-9. Sound is available in LPCM stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround and DTS Digital Surround Sound. All three sound spectacular: the two true surround sounds providing ambiance to the rear speakers and clarity to the total soundfield. The voices are crystal clear, the instruments also. Both are airy and well localized, surrounded by a nice sense of space. You feel like you're there. Menus are in English. Subtitles are likewise in English as well as French, German, Spanish and Italian. Running time is 154 minutes. There are no extras.
Strongly recommended for excellent singing, superb orchestral playing and fine conducting. The production and staging weaknesses are not severe enough to overshadow these other artistic elements and should not deter anyone from experiencing this excellent DVD. It looks and sounds splendid.
Occasional Reviewr | Texas | 12/12/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I tried to tell my husband it would be easier to start watching opera by Mozart or Bizet, but when we received Gotterdamerung as a gift he was hooked (surprise to me). I knew I'd have to get the whole set and start at the beginning. My mother & I used to see the Met. when it came to town in the spring. I grew to appreciate many types of opera, with Verdi and Wagner being my favorites. This is an interesting stage/costume setting; I'm getting used to it. The voices are spectacular and I appreciate information in the booklets and Bonus features. Well done."
Wagner the great escape
King Lemuel | Puyallup, WA | 04/11/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"My exposure to Wagner up to now has been the orchestral works ported out of his operas on lp by Karajan, Ormandy, etc. I recently have viewed the Ring (Boulez & Barenboim versions) thanks to Netflix. The DVD is a great alternative to the live experience. I especially like the English subtitles!
I would love to have seen either of these Ring productions in person. The singing is great in each. For me, the Ring is a great escape without the need for chemical additives. The orchestra is much more prominent in the Barenboim production-- you can actually hear the brass! I saw the documentary of the Boulez production and they seem to have purposefully toned down the orchestra to the point the orchestra actually protested and threatened to strike. Wagner's music is big and powerful and brass laden and should not be diminished to the point where it is hard to hear. Barenboim understands this and gets it right.
I would love to see a traditional staging version of the ring. Both of these are modern updates, which is fine."
You can't tell the players without a scorecard
Zarathustra | Sacramento, CA USA | 04/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Wagner - Das Rheingold / Tomlinson, Clarke, Holle, Finnie, Johansson, von Kannen, Svenden, Barenboim, Bayreuth Opera You need to see Das Rheingold to understand the three operas to follow. It turns out that Wotan has made a mess of things, and the unwinding of fate through the Ring cycle leads to grave consequences in the end. All four operas have lengthy narratives, but Das Rheingold, although shorter than the others, has a narration that is essential to what is to follow. There is not a lot of action in the Ring, but the orchestra, through the use of numerous leitmotives, makes up for this by reinforcing the narratives provided by the singers. This production features beautiful music from Barenboim and the Bayreuth Opera, excellent singing by the entire cast and believable acting. The sets are imaginative and the costumes are attractive. The giants are a hoot and the Rhinemaidens swimming around and through Alberich's legs provides just the right comedic touch. And the opera looks great in HD. What's not to like?"
Best-sounding Rheingold on DVD
Mr John Haueisen | WORTHINGTON, OHIO United States | 01/11/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don't let the Rheinmaidens' 1980s punk-rock look put you off. Their costume style works well with the yellow-green laser lights that set the stage for the Rhein scenes. To handle the difficult staging of Wotan's and Loge's travel to and from Nibelheim, there are endless industrial-stlye stairways. Likewise, in the closing scene of Rheingold, where Wotan and the other gods enter Valhalla, instead of a rainbow bridge, they use a well-lighted, pyramidal elevator.
So with all these unconventional staging surprises, why is this such a great DVD set? The widescreen format and surround sound help us focus on the great singing and acting in this performance.
John Tomlinson is a convincing, energetic Wotan. Alberich is sung (and acted!) at his very best by Gunter von Kannen. Fasolt and Fafner are, as you would expect them, bigger than life. Eva Johansson is a younger than the usual, and very appealing Freia.
Perhaps conductor Daniel Barenboim and director Harry Kupfer chose such a "modernistic" way of staging the opera in order to direct our attention to the exceptional singing and acting of the cast, which I should add is matched by the superb quality of the sound that Barenboim gets from the Bayreuth Festspiele Orchestra.
If I could have only one DVD set of Rheingold, this would be my choice. "