C. Boerger | Columbus, OH USA | 10/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is actually a review for the complete Barcelona Ring Cycle, not just Gotterdammerung.
I have watched this set twice now, and I love it. I can't understand some of the hits it has taken by a few of the reviewers, but perhaps they were expecting a perfect Ring Cycle. Does such a thing exist?
Not only is this Ring Cycle visually and aurally captivating, it is also quite entertaining - fast paced, galvanized, rarely plodding, despite the exposition-heavy libretto. Bertrand deBilly might not be the most incisive Wagner conductor out there, his style may seem rather anonymous to some(is that always such a bad thing? at least he doesn't take liberties), and yes, the Barcelona orchestra is a step or two away from being world class, the brass section does hit a few sour notes, but I feel that both conductor and orchestra do justice to Wagner's great score, they understand the overall intensity of the drama even if they do occasionally miss some of the subtler nuances. Besides, faulting the orchestra is, to me, a minor quibble when everything else about this set is so right on.
Here we have a group of singers(especially the dynamic Deborah Polaski as Brunnhilde, John Treleaven, whose dopey and arrogant frat boy of a Siegfried is an interesting and refreshing interpretation, and of course the always dependable Matti Salminen as Hagen) who have a deep emotional investment in their characters, who understand what these characters are going through and are not afraid to show it. In addition to that, everybody sings well, and they share true chemistry. Add to the singers a beautifully dank, post-apocalyptic production by Harry Kupfer(in widescreen no less, lending the performance the look of a dark and modernistic science fiction film) that adds new dimensions of interpretation to Wagner's epic(the ubiquitous background grid, does it represent power, fate?...your guess is as good as mine), and you have a Ring Cycle well worth purchasing.
The Ring is the most ambitious piece of music theater ever produced, so, as I said before, a perfectly conceived Ring Cycle might be impossible. But if you are interested in a Ring that is well-performed, highly enjoyable, and that challenges the intellect as well as the imagination, then give this one a try."
Wait for the first Kupfer
Archie | Ottawa ON Canada | 12/16/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I started, on several occasions, to write a longish review on this whole Cycle to complement and complete what I wrote about Das Rheingold. But now that the first Kupfer Cycle is being released (and Die Walkure already has), have patience and get it as it is becomes available.
In the meantime, if you are like a woman who can never have enough diamonds; and can never have enough RINGS (like me); and already have the Boulez/Chereau RING, get this in the interim because it is better than what else is out there.
There is a lot to be said for it. Kupfer's direction is strong and appropriate, as are the sets. Von Kannen is even better as Alberich than he was in the first Kupfer production; and Clarke as both Loge and Mime is almost as good. But the rest of the cast do not come up to the very high standards for acting as well as singing as Tomlinson, Evans et al. Even the great Matti Salminen as Hagen is nowhere near as good as Philip Kang. And of course, de Billy as conductor is no Barenboim.
(As a matter of personal taste, I loathed Struckmann as Wotan, although he was quite good as Gunther. There is something about his cold forced voice that detracts considerably from the performance. I do not believe that this is a an idea of the director or the conductor -- it is him, and I do not like it. I also hated John Treleaven as Siegfried -- his wide vibrato and swoops in particular.)
That said, it is still worth having until the whole 1991 Kupfer RING is released."