I heard Wagner's Gotterdammerung in 1965 and have heard it many times since. Its my favourite opera, so having heard the wonderful Solti/Cushaw version often over the years, I must admit I was sceptical about whether this version would match the Decca classic. And surprise, surprise, I wasnt at all disappointed. Dare I say it? This version does match almost, but not quite Solti's/Culshaw's version. What I like about this version is that it does try to stage the opera almost as Wagner intended. The sets and costumes are astounding. And to make it even better, the singing by all those concerned is flawless. I cannot rate this too highly. Hildegard Behrens does excell herself in the wonderful Immolation scene. Siegfried Jerusalem is a very fine Siegfried indeed, singing with much style and panache. Of course one must not forget Matti Salminen's interpretation of the evil Hagan. And James Levine, drawing upon his vast experience, conducts the score with much style. Overall, its a classic version which should be seen by all Wagnerians. Be warned though, if you have an Audio 5:1 set up, the sound is magnificent. A viewing and listening experience which you will want to repeat over and over again. A best buy!!
on 20 May 2009
What joy! Traditional staging. Not a jumped up director's concept but Wagner's. And the stereo sound. Wide dynamic range with excellent balance between voices and orchestra. Listen to the clean bass and the sleek upper strings. (Sometimes recent Met recorded sound has tended to the harsh and dry.) Revel in it with a reasonably powerful amp. to get the best out of it. (My relatively inexpensive Tangent AMP-100 and Tannoy Mercury F1 bookshelf speakers are well up to the task.)
The picture is a puzzle and a disappointment. The singers are usually well lit and defined but the scenery even when it is supposed to be daylight is darkish and washed out.
I don't know how Hildegard Behrens' voice fares as the immortal warrior maiden (frankly I am not engaged by the earlier "Ring" operas) but as the disarmed, earthly woman her timbre is ideal and matches the pleasant voice of Siegfried Jerusalem who is almost the ideal naive, boyish Siegfried. They make a handsome couple. Both voices are a little underpowered. Behrens evidently decided not to force her voice at peaks and so avoids the harshness of too many Wagnerian sopranos. A beautiful, smooth sound throughout.
Matti Salminen, the only one of the cast with a big voice, is an outstanding Hagen. Other parts are taken satisfactorily.
James Levine conducts a fine performance moving the drama forward without overdriving it.
"Gotterdammerung" ranks second only to "Tristan und Isolde" in a list of Wagner's greatest achievements. This production has been revived in 2009, for the last time it was said. Shame! Don't hold your breath waiting for a future DVD release. Buy this one.
on 26 November 2007
This is a rare chance to see a 'naturalistic' Ring cycle, but there are problems with this production of Gotterdammerung.
The main one is Hildegard Behrens - her singing is, at times, way off, almost embarrassingly so. I don't know if she over strained her voice, or what, but it is very poor in places, yet okay in others.
There also seems to be a problem with the colour balance on this, and indeed other, DG DVDs - the colour is so weak as to be almost non-existent! It almost looks like monochrome.
Still, it's worth watching - Matti Salminen is very powerful as Hagan, and it makes a change from abstract sets and lots of symbolism. But it would be good to see this sort of production at Bayreuth occasionally...