The Ring on dvd

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The Ring on dvd

I own three Ring cycles on dvd - the Met, Chereau/Boulez and Copenhagen, but as Liz Taylor used to say you can never have too many rings and with Ms. Claus asking me for my Christmas list I'm tempted to push my luck (I reckon I've been extra nice this year) and request either the Barenboim/Kupfer or new Valencia. Barenboim is going dirt cheap (by Ring standards) on my local Amazon but the Valencia is on bluray and apparently making excellent use of the capabilities of the format.

Any of you opera gurus know either of these? If so, I'd love to hear your opinion.

RE: The Ring on dvd

Stick to the two you already have.(The best ones on the market)

Mrs. Taylor could be right about rings,but afther seeing Siegfried last weekend from the Met ......really two on DVD is enough.



RE: The Ring on dvd

I saw the Valencia Ring when it was transmitted on Sky and wasn't very impressed. It seemed to be the usual story of startling effects for their own sake - undeniably visually fascinating, but that's about all. On repeated viewings, I can imagine it becoming merely irritating. The singing was adequate and no more. I've seen Mehta give some blazing performances but the best that can be said for his conducting in this instance was that it didn't particularly draw attention to itself.

However, that's from seeing just one transmission of it (and I'm not now sure whether I stuck it out to the end or gave up - I think the latter) and it may be quite a different experience on Blu-ray.

I have the Met and Boulez versions, the former solid, traditional and reliable, if a teeny bit unexciting. Rather like James Morris himself. The Boulez/Chereau is, in my opinion, coherent, well-conducted and thought-provoking from start to finish.

Like Tagalie, I'm slightly itching for another, so would be interested to know your opinion on the Copenhagen and the Barenboim. The latter I've experienced on CD but not dvd. Any thoughts?

 

JKH

JKH

RE: The Ring on dvd RE: The Ring on dvd

I quite like the audio of the Barenboim ring on CD, it's probably the best "modern" recording I've heard. The corresponding DVDs are interesting in places but compared to Boulez I find them a bit tedious to watch all the way through as the action takes place against relentlessly black sets. Technically the picture quality is (unsurprisingly) better than the Boulez, but not quite as good as the very latest standards. If you want something a little different I would also consider the spectacular Amsterdam Audi ring where the action takes place in an unconventional performance space.         

Ted

 

RE: The Ring on dvd

Thanks for the comments, guys, they answer some of the questions I'd been asking myself, though perhaps raising some more. Reaction to the Kupfer sets varies but many say they're rather underwhelming, though the acting and stage direction compensate. Reviews of the Valencia production are all over the place. As tends to be the case with any Ring set.

One comment on the current Met cycle sticks in my head, from Robert Levine on Deborah Voigt's Brunnhilde: "One fears for the twilight of the soprano". The poor girl doesn't seem to have come out of all the weight loss too well.

I'm only half with you on the old Met Ring, Ted. Yes, it's rather staid and stogy and old fashioned as the Met certainly was in that period. But to me the main reason to buy the set is James Morris's Wotan. Not only does he actually sing, rather than sing/bark the part, but also his portrayal, the lovable rogue, is quite singular. He's the only Wotan I can't help liking.

The Boulez/Chereau I love for the concept and for Jones's Brunnhilde. A near-perfect Die Walkure and McIntyre's Wotan is strong throughout. But I can't begin to warm to Manfred Jung's Siegfried. I find myself siding with Mime and Fafner.

The Copenhagen Ring is a killer if, big if, you can handle all the ideas Kasper Bech Holten has introduced. People who claim to know Wagner's intentions and vision better than the composer himself, or who believe in upholding some kind of universal Wagnerian tradition, have trouble with them. I certainly don't. Only one of them misfires, in my view, his portrayal of the Norns. Otherwise they fit with the concept and story perfectly. If you believe the Ring is a psychological drama open to a multitude of interpretations rather than an historical tableau set in stone, you'll have no trouble. Acting is superb in almost every case. More surprisingly the singing is uniformly excellent too. Stig Andersen - Siegfried and Siegmund, is a knockout, Irene Theorin's Brunnhilde is close behind as is James Johnson's Wotan. Randi Stene's Fricka is the best I've seen as is Gitta-Maria Sjoberg's Sieglinde. There's hardly a weak link. My only complaint is the sound. Not terrible, but a bit wayward and not up the standards you'd expect from Decca. They seemed to have a problem with the dynamic range, especially when you've got all those horns going at once. This Ring is the only one I've seen where I can't wait to get to the next act after finishing one, and with which I feel totally emotionally involved from beginning to end.

But I must admit I'm still tempted by the Valencia cycle. Effects for their own sake don't interest me, but I have to believe that with all the technology available to today's producers we'll see dramatic steps forward in our ability to realize Wagner's ideas. Unfortunately we'll probably also have to go through a period of overkill before the balance is found.

RE: The Ring on dvd

Personally I'd avoid the Valencia one at all costs - I like revisionist productions as much as the next man (more, most likely) but this production is like Acorn Antiques meets Star Trek.

RE: The Ring on dvd RE: The Ring on dvd

I beg to differ, Andrew. Wagner's Ring deals in the realm of the fantastic and the mythological: you have gods, elves, dragons, giants and magic potions, in an environment as removed from reality as can be. In this regard, the mixture of high tech and acrobatic skill brought forth by the Valencia production adds greatly to the creation of such a dreamlike scenario. The structures for the giants in Das Rheingold, the cranes representing the flying horses in Die Walküre and the enormous screen in the back with images ranging from planets in the cosmos to erupting volcanoes make for a powerful and compelling visual spectacle which, in my opinion, enhances the musical experience rather than detracts from it. Also, in purely musical terms, there are some pluses as well, like a generally competent cast in which Anna Larson and Matti Salminen are on top form throughout, in addition to an orchestra (the Orquestra de la Comunidad Valenciana) which hold their own in style.    

RE: The Ring on dvd

Fair comments all of them Carlos - and I certainly agree that Matti Salminen is a huge plus. I suppose I missed the human element in these productions most of all. What Wagner does better than anyone - and among all the detritues of his dragons, gods, curses and potions - is human emotion.

That, and I found it all faintly ridiculous - but I'm glad you disagree as it was obviously a landmark production (and you certainly feel the atmosphere in the auditorium, no mean feat from the DVD producers).

Just to add, I think the Norns scene in the Copenhagen Gotterdammerung is a masterstroke; such a wickedly theatrical way of dealing with a theatrical 'recap' (basically Wagner thinking of his audience like no other composer did!). I won't spoil it - but it has to be seen!

RE: The Ring on dvd

I have Walkure/Met on DVD and used to have the Met-Rheingold on old VHS. I do quite like these , but recent performances by the Met on Radio 3 have left me  considerably underwhelmed.

Looking at the reviews, I might be inclined to go for the Copenhagen version if the price could come down a bit. But what do people think about buying seperate versions of the 4 operas?

 

DSM

RE: The Ring on dvd

Every cycle has its highs and lows but by mixing them to get the best of each you'd end up with a pretty disjointed story, not only visually. The Ring is open to so many interpretations and each producer has his or her own idea of what they want it to say.

RE: The Ring on dvd

Well it WOULD be nice if the Gotz Friedrich Deutsche Oper 'Time Tunnel' 'Ring' were to appear on DVD?

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