15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on 16 January 2011
I love the traditional mythology of the Ring and expected this to blow my mind, with high tech dragons and serpents. It did. But not in the way I imagined. The power of the technology has not overtaken the production. At times the images are truly stunning at other times the technology is ignored for very simple staging. The costumes are on occasion quirky and in the twilight of the Gods surreal until you get the juxtaposition of Siegfried with modern consumerism and graphic novel and cartoon symbolism. It all works very well - all of the singing is first class and some of it could not be bettered. The orchestral playing and sound production is also of the highest quality. If you don't like a little quirky stuff then avoid this version but if you do it will reward multiple watching. It is worth playing the bonus material. Overall a great purchase.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 20 January 2013
I believe I have seen every Ring cycle available on DVD, Blur ray or VHS. All have their good points, all their bad points. So why is this the best? Wagner always intended the Ring to be a combined spectacle of sight and sound. Minimalist stage productions can have very fine singing and sound, but they are NOT what Wagner intended. You need visual spectacle on as grandiose scale as the music. We could do this by recreating productions from Wagner's time, but they would have utterly the wrong effect on a modern audience. Our tastes have moved beyond heavyweight sopranos in horned helmets and pigtails, cleavage heaving beneath metal breastplates, and the dragon used in Wagner's time would look plain silly today. So, the spectacle has to be updated. And there is no denying that at times this production is jaw-droppingly good. Yes, there are moments where there are lapses in judgement - but there are in any production of the Ring. Think of e.g. Patrice Chereau's (in)famous Bayreuth production - yes, in many ways brilliant, but there were some very crass moments (e.g. Siegfried, Act 1). But in the main, the production gets it right. Just watch the opera and stop trying to be clever by comparing it with other productions you've seen, and it WORKS.
Singing and conducting and acting are in the main excellent. The pace plods a little in places, but that is better that than rushing it. Just go with the flow and immerse yourself in this production and you will love it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This staging of the Ring cycle by Fura Dels Bausto owes much of its success to the consistently high standard of singing and orchestral playing throughout. The musical values of the singers in this production can only be described as outstanding and, in my opinion, there is not a weak point to be noted anywhere in this regard. It therefore seems to me that it would be invidious to single out particular performers for particular praise in this review. Sufficient to comment that the remarkably consistent high quality achieved in the first issue in this cycle have been fully maintained throughout the whole series.
The use of high quality projected backdrops to create scenarios or to imply long journeys, such as the descent to and return from the Niblung world, are also very impressive and surely an advance in technology that would appeal to Wagner himself. This sense of realism would be hard to match in any `normal' stage production without using this modern technology.
The use of mechanical hoists to move the Gods about on raised platforms by on-stage scenery movers during the singing and as mentioned at the beginning of this review are, for me, the most invasive parts to my enjoyment of this production. However, I have found that upon repeated viewing, one adjusts and accepts the concept given the wealth of virtues otherwise present.
The camera work and imaging are both of a very high standard as one would expect from an HD recording and the same can be said of the sound which is frequently spectacular. The sound is presented in DTS 7.1 and stereo.
A most enjoyable production overall therefore, but not, in my opinion, sufficient to entirely replace the Barenboim/Kupfer version on DVD complete with bleeding colours at all points of fast movement (and there are many)which still reigns supreme. Buy both if you can. The differences between the two are such that this is musically justifiable even if financially stretching!
Despite my preference for the earlier Barenboim version therefore, I still feel that this is well-worth the full 5 stars as such a preference may be more of a personal response. Both versions are equally worthy of 5 stars on any even-handed basis and we can be grateful that such a high quality choice has been put before us.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 July 2012
There is a great deal to admire in this La fura dels bous production in Valencia, but I can appreciate why some reviewers didn't like it. Mind you, I wonder if they would have liked it more if they had endured Covent Garden's recent cycle.
Much of the production works, but the Gods being wheeled around on trollies becomes tiresome after a while, as does the rather 'natty' mobility scooter that Loge zaps around on.
I like the idea of the spider's web ensaring the Gods at the end of Rheingold, but my wife was irritated by it. Much of the computerised graphics worked and I was particularly impressed with the firemountain scenes.
The singing was generally OK, not even Matti Salminen was outstanding on this occasion, but I really didn't like Jennifer Wilson's Brunhilde (or her costume). In fact, when Siegfried (who I thought was quite good) woke her at the end of Siegfried, Act III, a wicked thought went through my head as imagined him thinking, 'God, how do I get her back to sleep?!'
Although, let's be honest, no Ring Cycle is perfect - it covers too vast a canvass - and this one isn't bad, nor is it badly sung. In fact, it has a great deal to commend it - but (and there's always a but, isn't there?) if you are just being introduced to the Ring, then you might be better off looking elsewhere. If, like me, you are a Ring-Adict, then it will sit happily in your collection - although I doubt if you will air it that often.
Coming back to my review, having watched this a couple more times, I have to confess that I am now finding some of the cliches more irritating than when I first saw it, but I suspect I will find the same with The Met's Lepage Cycle, which I have yet to see.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 22 November 2010
I don't pretend to be an expert, and many more educated might laugh this to scorn, but I've seen and heard quite a few Ring Cycles, on TV, stage, disc, and radio, and I know what I like. I've enjoyed them all, some aspects are stonger in some productions than others, but this one is a sharp modern stunning stage work, and as far as I'm concerned it was strong in most departments.
I've seen this now twice on big TV in HD transmission - I DON'T HAVE THE DISCS, so can only assume that the photography shots etc are the same and the technical quality is similar, but I can't comment other than on the actual production.
Clever use of digital back projection screens, cranes, harnesses, water tanks, and even a mechanical slithering Fafner in Siegfried, make this by far the most visually stimulating I've ever seen. Some of the costumes are a bit more questionable, particularly the prehistoric tatooed outfits for the Wolsungs and Hunding, some ridiculous breast plates for the valkeries, and bad taste city suits and make up in Gotterdammerung - but it all makes sense in the context of what the production team was trying to achieve, so, although I found some irritations like this, it didn't negate the visual impact of the overall show. (yes - it's a show).
Zubin Mehta and the orchestra did a very fine job of playing the first complete Ring Cycle ever to be mounted in Spain - and from memory and "feel" it stands up well compared to quite a few Bayreuth offerings, with a lot of detail coming through that usually gets drowned. (I haven't got the time or inclination to get the discs out and do a side by side comparison with the Sky box - sorry.)
Singing was at least good in all cases, I particularly enjoyed all the Matti Salminen parts, who remains at the top of the Wagnerian world bass tree, the Sigmund, Wotan, Donner, Froh and the Norns. Brunhilde and Waltraute were great singers, but their size, as with so many here, seemed contrary to what the story would imply. I wasn't particularly keen on the Siegfried, perhaps his aggression was a bit more than I'm used to, but at least he did look sufficiently youthful and vigorous for the part. Sigmund didn't manage this.
If you haven't got a recording of the Ring already, this one will give you a great visual and musical experience, and would be a great one to start with. If you've got one already, this one will be a great fresh experience. If you've got several already, then you will want to buy this as you are obviously a Wagner fan, and you'll want to see it anyway, provided that it's half decent, and this production is well beyond half decent.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 25 November 2010
With an array of gadgets, including cranes,hoists and a quite spectacularly filmic back drop, you would assume that all this would take attention away from the music. But it doesn't.
Razor sharp conducting by Maestro Mehta and superb singing from all the soloists ensures one of the most enjoyable Ring cycles on DVD - I have 4! The Blu-ray production not only highlights hairs on the backs of one audience member's hand but graphically shows off the cinematic backdrop as well as the ingenious acrobatics of the cast - the end of Rheingold is quite breathtaking.
The cast are dressed in outfits resembling left over costumes from Star Wars, Star Trek and possibly Steptoe and son. Much plastic, latex and chains are in evidence. With extra breasts, bizzarre face make up and circus helmets, it's a wonder the singers kept straight faces - I certainly didn't when Loge segwayed onto the stage. Despite the distractions, or maybe because of them, the cast and orchestra remain involved throughout all four operas and the result is splendid. A delightful touch was the appearance on stage of the entire orchestra during the applause at the end - the audience positively rocked with delight.
So....if you love the Ring Cycle, you must get this. If you are going to buy only one Ring Cycle however, on DVD, the Barenboim Kupfer Bayreuth production is near perfection. Though not Blu-ray, the sound is opulent and the visuals are quite wonderful with lasers, smoke and a most intriguing end which includes TV sets. The costumes are far more sober with lots of leather trench coats - even Brunhilde wears one - there must have been a sale in Bayreuth that year! The cast is near perfect with stellar Wagnerians including John Tomlinson, Anne Evans and Siegfried Jerusalem all singing to perfection, even if some of them are a little older than their parts. The orchestral playing is superb with Barenboim conducting the end of Gotterdammerung as though it were a Hollywood film score - spine tingling stuff. This cycle has been difficult to get hold of for some time with sets selling out virtually as soon as new supplies arrive but is now available again here on Amazon - I had to buy mine for over £100 second hand earlier this year.
I dip into them both regularly - so if you can afford it - buy the two productions - even together, they come to less than the price of one Ring Cycle ticket.
This has now become my favourite version of the Ring on DVD - it's the one I come back to more and more regularly. There is a humanity and grandeur in Mehta's conducting which I did not initially appreciate as I was blown away by Barenboim's version. Additionally, there is humour, often missing from Wagner in the production - just touches but enough to put a smile on what can be long passages of some of the most intense music ever written.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2011
Something totally different from any other production of the Ring Cycle.
Impressive staging - very original interpretation, yet manages to stay true to Wagner's stage directions.
Musically - a triumph for orchestra and singers. and plenty of opportunities for the famous acrobats of the Palais
de les Arts "Reina Sofia" to show their talents. If you want a traditional production, then the "Met" set would be a better choice - but with this set prepare to be amazed.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 27 August 2013
What more can I say.
The most original presentation, since the patrice chereau ring cycle.
Sound and vision are excellent.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 7 December 2011
I had the chance to see it in the theatre also and it is one of the biggest production on the Ring of the last years. I enjoyed it a lot.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 21 September 2014
This is a visually fascinating and exciting production with excellent singers ... completely ruined and made unwatchable by the cretinous editing. Each shot lasts an average of four seconds before cutting away to another, so the eye can never rest on any scene or character. One ends up with a headache. A terrible shame as this valuable production is effectively lost to future generations.