This 1999 Amsterdam 'Ring' is well directed by Pierre Audi, and features colourful Japanese-inspired costumes, but is a huge let-down as far as the singing is concerned. The worst soloist here is Altmeyer, miscast at this point of her career as Brunnhilde (naturally, no match for her 'Ring' roles under Boulez and Janowski): in addition to a more-or-less acceptable wobble, most of the top notes are simply beyond her, as when she sounds so tired towards the end of the 'Gotterdammerung' duet that she quickly runs out of breath and even chokes on the final 'Heil!', which her partner sustains superbly; other no less embarrassing moments recur throughout this opera, as well as in 'Siegfried' (to some extent tolerable, given the role's brevity) and 'Walkure', where the beginning of each of the repeated verse of the battle cry is delivered hoarsely (you'll cringe on hearing 2.54 and 4.16 on DVD 2 of the opera); when she just manages to hold a top note, her body begins to convulse (extremely painful to watch and hear); she looks rather astonished during her thunderous curtain calls at the end of the cycle, as if saying: 'I'm glad the ignorant applauding bunch didn't notice anything out of the ordinary'. (I cannot believe that these passages were left intact: the least that could have been done was to re-record them in sound to cover up the defects.) Not that the other members of the cast are on top form either: of the well-known soloists (except Clark, though still not his former self as Mime at Bayreuth), Secunde (Sieglinde), Merritt (Loge), Brocheler (Wotan), Schone (Gunther), Bundschuh (Gutrune), and Rydl (Hunding and Hagen) are frankly past their best, while (apart from Kruse's fine Siegfried and Runkel's outstanding Fricka) newcomers like Keyes (Siegmund), Gjevang (Erda and Waltraute), and Smit (Alberich) are vibrato-ridden performers, the rest (including Rhinemaidens, Valkyries and Norns) ranging from good to average. Though the close singer-audience interaction is highly successful (due to the ring-shaped stage), the fixed set begins to grow monotonous as one act follows another with almost little variation throughout the cycle, but that's a minor quibble, compared with the production's overall vocal quality, despite a superb chorus and orchestra (the supplied documentaries, though highly informative, are small consolation). The accompanying printed matter features a short article by Haenchen on the variations included in the score he used (the Woodbird is sung by a boy): only a few examples are being sampled, and the same article appears in each of the four booklets enclosed in each opera case (I had expected generous extracts from the individual operas appearing in the booklet of the work in question). Misled by the bombastic 5-star reviews here (separate releases) and on the US site, I regret having purchased this set and still don't understand how or why it deserves such a rating, unless one watches with the mute button on. Doubting that even those who are new to the cycle will find it satisfactory, I hardly think that 'Ring' fans who know the work by heart will find it worth the addition to their DVD library.