This 1981 performance from the Wurttembergische Staatsoper, Stuttgart, is musically first rate. The orchestra, under Dennis Russell Davies, is excellent, and the principals are all fine singers. The ladies, Caterina Ligendza as Agathe and Raili Viljakainen as Annchen, are both outstanding.
What lets this down to a large extent is the visual aspects of the production, which make it look almost amateur. The set is initially a shock - it is like a cross between a poor Disney cartoon and a child's colouring book. This does, however, eventually grow on you as you get used to it. It is obviously meant to emphasize the naive fairytale-like storyline. However, some of the elements in the Wolf's Glen scene are far from being childlike and suitable to a fairy tale. What persists in being both annoying and distracting are the truly terrible acting coupled to the absolutely dreadful makeup. I presume both of these elements are meant to enhance the naive childlike nature of the production, but the highly mannered and at times silly acting is just annoying and the makeup looks like a cross between English pantomime and Japanese kabuki. The makeup is at its absolute worst on Agathe who should be a beautiful young girl but is made to look like some ancient Victorian streetwalker.
The 'special effects' here are also very dated. I suppose in the opera house at the time they were moderately effective but under the gaze of close camerawork on DVD they often just look silly. If, however, you can put up with all the visual horrors then this is an enormously enjoyable performance because the music is so excellent. Once you get used to the visuals there are some nice touches which do add to the enjoyment too.
The sound is very good Dolby digital 2.0 and there are subtitles in English, German and Spanish.