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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!!!!
Yes the video production is terrible, but the performance is stunning. Karl Bohm conducts with urgency and passion. Nilsson is an Isolde who dominates with her extraordinary voice which cuts through the orchestra. Best of all, Vickers is the Tristan of Wagner's dreams; heroic in voice and sight. His Act 3 is harrowing and painful to watch. Lenhoff's production is...
Published 2 months ago by Rohintan Mody

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars You can't ignore the awful quality
Other reviewers have commented on the low audio and video quality of this recording, but maintained that the performance is worth it. I envy their tolerance. This is quite frankly the worst video recording of an opera that I've ever seen.

Where to start?

I'm prepared to accept the shortcomings of early sound recordings, or tolerate grainy videos, for...
Published on 31 Jan 2009 by Doug Urquhart


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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars You can't ignore the awful quality, 31 Jan 2009
By 
Doug Urquhart (Southport, CT USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wagner - Tristan Und Isolde (Bohm, Nilsson, Vickers, Hesse) [DVD] (DVD)
Other reviewers have commented on the low audio and video quality of this recording, but maintained that the performance is worth it. I envy their tolerance. This is quite frankly the worst video recording of an opera that I've ever seen.

Where to start?

I'm prepared to accept the shortcomings of early sound recordings, or tolerate grainy videos, for a chance to hear and see the 'greats', secure in the knowledge that whoever made the recordings did so to the best of his abilities, within the limitations of the media. I'm also very appreciative of the efforts of the geniuses who can clean up an early recording, but still preserve its inherent quality.

The problem with this recording was not limitations of the media; the technology in 1973 was perfectly capable of reproducing operatic performances, as many others have demonstrated. The problem lies in the complete ineptitude of those who produced the recording, and the fact that Kultur seem to have made no attempt to improve matters.

Here are the sort of things which finally made me give up:

Severe clipping of audio frequencies in the higher register, accompanied by blurring on the louder notes - an effect similar to the onset of deafness.
Camera quality reminiscent of a bootleg copy - hand-held, shaky telephoto shots, taken from much too far away, and usually pointing in the wrong direction.
No adjustment for the speed of sound, so everyone was out of synch. This is pretty basic stuff, guys....
A very poor video transfer, with vertical lines marring most of the shots, occasional flashes of light and abrupt changes in color cast.
Occasional jump-cuts in the sound.
I'm not convinced that some of the shots of the conductor actually matched the soundtrack.
Oh yes, and the titles were crooked.

How on earth did Kultur allow this train-wreck to be released?

Given my love for Wagner's operas, and respect for the magnificent Ms Nilsson, I'm ashamed to admit that, having managed to put up with the first thirty minutes, in the hope that I'd be able to immerse myself in the performance, I eventually resorted to fast-forwarding to the major arias. This is a dreadful admission! In my defence, I can only suggest that you rent the recording and see for yourself, before passing judgement.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Superb voices. Pity about the picture and the sound., 28 Oct 2008
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This review is from: Wagner - Tristan Und Isolde (Bohm, Nilsson, Vickers, Hesse) [DVD] (DVD)
It has been said with some truth about Wagner that he had a corrupt taste in mythology and a bag of orchestral tricks. Tristan weary of the world of consciousness, of impermanence, individuality and delusion is eager to enter the realm of the non-conscious mind, undifferentiation, what he calls the realm of night. But this is Wagnerian opera (his greatest without doubt) so there must be a passionate love affair before everlasting night.
First the stage setting. With such a heavy philosophical underpining it can be abstract if done with restraint. The swords must be retained. (Flick knives on a modern liner just look silly.) In this production the abstract setting together with the lighting effects are non-intrusive. Tristan wears chain mail and carries a knight's sword.
The parts of Tristan and Isolde demand great voices. With Jon Vickers and Birgit Nilsson we get nothing less. In particular, when Nilsson hits the high notes powerfully one does not wince as with most other sopranos who tackle this role. Brangaene sung by Ruth Hesse is very good and the singers of the other parts do not disappoint.
About 7 years previously Karl Bohm had conducted at Bayreuth a performance (available on CD) of ovewhelming intensity also featuring Birgit Nilsson. To be blunt, L'Orchestra National de l'ORTF was not world class in 1973 and Bohm had aged noticeably by that time. Although there is not the same overall drive as at Bayreuth (the overture is too slow and rather mannered) Bohm could still pull out the stops sufficiently as required and his general tempi are not sluggish. In the finale the Liebestod is gently beautiful, inward rather than declamatory, ideally presented with Nilsson in white having taken off her black cloak and supported by the right lighting.
Now to the picture and the sound. In 1973 it was possible to produce much better results with the technology then available. Here picture and sound are no more than acceptable. The picture is fuzzy. The sound level is very low requiring considerable amplification and still scrawny with it. Therefore I can only give an overall rating of 3 stars. Buy it nevertheless for Vickers and Nilsson. Who can match them today?
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great performers, poor recording, 25 Feb 2009
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This review is from: Wagner - Tristan Und Isolde (Bohm, Nilsson, Vickers, Hesse) [DVD] (DVD)
Bad audio, strange video. Many other recordings made at that time are perfect, so it is the matter of poor engineering.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!!!!, 2 Aug 2014
By 
Rohintan Mody (Cambridge, Cambridgeshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wagner - Tristan Und Isolde (Bohm, Nilsson, Vickers, Hesse) [DVD] (DVD)
Yes the video production is terrible, but the performance is stunning. Karl Bohm conducts with urgency and passion. Nilsson is an Isolde who dominates with her extraordinary voice which cuts through the orchestra. Best of all, Vickers is the Tristan of Wagner's dreams; heroic in voice and sight. His Act 3 is harrowing and painful to watch. Lenhoff's production is minimalist but has serviceable sets and beautiful lighting effects. A great, great performance; you only have to compare Nilsson and Vickers to the singers today to realize that what we miss.
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Wagner - Tristan Und Isolde (Bohm, Nilsson, Vickers, Hesse) [DVD]
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