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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wagner - a mixed bag, and only almost complete.
This set is one of the upsides of the concentration of the old competing recording companies into two groups. It enables DG, Decca, Philips, and it appears, BBC licensing, to be drawn on to compile blockbusters for - one hopes - carefully chosen markets and to exploit the less obvious properties in some vaults. I can't claim to have listened to everything on offer in...
Published 19 months ago by Peter Street

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11 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars too many misses as a set
On the plus side, it's good for a "complete" box to actually be complete, in this case by the inclusion of Wagner's two early operas. That said, there's more wrong than right with this box because each of the operas can be found in better recordings elsewhere. The main part of the box is Levine's Ring which is a travesty. Could this man even read music? He certainly...
Published 17 months ago by Col William Russell


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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wagner - a mixed bag, and only almost complete., 1 Feb 2013
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This review is from: Wagner Complete Operas (Audio CD)
This set is one of the upsides of the concentration of the old competing recording companies into two groups. It enables DG, Decca, Philips, and it appears, BBC licensing, to be drawn on to compile blockbusters for - one hopes - carefully chosen markets and to exploit the less obvious properties in some vaults. I can't claim to have listened to everything on offer in the box, but I do know why I bought it. The BBC in the seventies put on uncut versions of Wagner's first three operas - Die Feen, Das Liebesverbot, and Rienzi, under the late Edward Downes, whose virtues I have to confess I was rather too slow to appreciate in my younger days, when in two successive seasons I heard first Solti and then Downes conduct the Covent Garden Arabella - Solti with Della Casa and Fischer-Dieskau like quicksilver on ice, and Downes, with Joan Carlyle, like Oregon pine. I'm not sure how I'd react now - Oregon pine has staying power. This set includes two of them, but doesn't give us a complete Rienzi, which latter in all conscience is a mixed blessing. But I was glad to get Die Feen, which has risen to an enormous online price, (over twice the current (Jan 2013) UK Amazon price for the whole box), and Das Liebesverbot which was going the same way.

Otherwise the largest chunk is James Levine's Ring, which matched only too well a fairly conventional staging 20 years ago and more, and is certainly reliable, but set beside what this conductor was capable of at his peak - his Lulu, for example - is a disappointment. We get the Jochum-Fischer-Dieskau Meistersinger, (in which Jochum is at his considerable best) and the underestimated Solti Parsifal and Lohengrin. Sinopoli and Carlos Kleiber in the Dutchman and Paris Tannhauser, and Tristan respectively complete the set. I don't know that I would depend on this set for much of my future Wagner listening, (and it should certainly have gone the whole hog on Downes and included his Rienzi), but Carlos Kleiber's Tristan fears no comparisons and Sinopoli is certainly worth hearing more than once. The Amazon price is declining since release date. Draw your own conclusions.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific bargain!, 17 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Wagner Complete Operas (Audio CD)
This set comprises a terrific bargain and will be a useful addition to most Wagner afficionados. I already have various recordings of the main operas and whilst none of these were my first choices in my collection they are all interesting performances. The glory of the set must be the Tristan with truly wonderful passionate playing under Kleiber and surely the most beautiful Isolde ever recorded (Margaret Price). The early operas are a treat to hear, if possibly only once!
Highly recommended for anyone interested in Wagner!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This box has all THIRTEEN operas (unlike the rest), 23 April 2014
By 
John Fowler (urbana, illinois) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Wagner Complete Operas (Audio CD)
Richard Wagner composed thirteen operas. All are in this box.

The first three - Die Feen, Das Liebesverbot, and Rienzi - have been forgotten by the public and most record companies.
This is especially surprising in the case of Rienzi.
It was Wagner's most popular opera during his lifetime.

Adolf Hitler may have inadvertently killed Rienzi when word got out that it was his favorite opera.
This seems unfair:
After the war, his valet reported that Hitler's favorite movie was "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs"
yet Snow White seems to have survived unscathed.

There are a number of boxes of Wagner's collected operas on the market.
Most are INCOMPLETE, containing only the final ten operas:

Wagner: The Operas : Georg Solti, ten operas (Decca)
The Complete Operas : Daniel Barenboim, ten operas (Teldec)
Wagner - The Complete Operas (Sacd - Plays on all CD players) : Marek Janowski, ten operas (Pentatone)
Wagner: The Great Operas from the Bayreuth Festival (33 Disc Box Set) : ten operas, four conductors (Decca)
Wagner: Great Opera Box : went one better and included eleven operas, with eight conductors (EMI/Warner Classics)

The Deutsche Gramophon collection under review is the ONLY major-label box to include all thirteen operas. *

Die Feen, Das Liebesverbot, Rienzi - There was a flurry of recording activity between 1976 and 1983:
- 1976: Edward Downes presented all three operas in stereo broadcasts on the BBC.
- 1976: EMI produced the first, and to date only studio recording of Rienzi, conducted by Heinrich Hollreiser: Wagner: Rienzi
- 1983: Wolfgang Sawallisch presided over all three for the Bavarian Radio: Wagner: Die Feen, Das Liebesverbot, Rienzi (more heavily cut than Downes).

If for no other reason than completeness, the Downes/BBC set of three operas is the most desirable.
Unfortunately, the BBC is still sitting on one of them.
All three were released in 2005 on the Italian label Ponto, in violation of BBC copyright. They have been withdrawn.

DG/Universal had no recordings of the first three operas in their catalog, so they licensed Die Feen and Das Liebesverbot from the BBC.
Hooray!
But instead of the Downes/BBC Rienzi, they went with the Hollreiser/EMI Rienzi (3 hours, 38 minutes versus 4 hours, 40 minutes for Downes/BBC).
Boo!
Let's hope the BBC is planning an independent release of the Downes/BBC Rienzi, the most complete Rienzi to date. **

Good News: DG/Universal includes complete texts and English translations for all thirteen operas.
The booklet includes a link to the website where they can be downloaded (clumsy but unavoidable in a bargain box like this).

The best available performances of three rare operas, on nine CDs with complete librettos, for only 65 Pounds would be a bargain all by itself.

Think of the remaining ten operas as a bonus.
- Especially desirable is the Sinopoli Tannhauser with Placido Domingo:
This is the only recording of the complete Paris version of the opera (more music).
Solti's recording was advertised as the Paris version, but he reverted to the Dresden version in a few places.

P.S. I have prepared discographies of Wagner: Die Feen ,
Wagner: Liebesverbot [Michael Nagy, Charles Reid, Franz Meyer] [Oehms Classics: OC942] ,
and Wagner: Rienzi

* There are some complete opera collections on inexpensive labels specialising in historical (mono) recordings.
For the first three operas, they had to make do with very old radio broadcasts - heavily cut.

** The Ponto version of the Downes/BBC Rienzi is available as a download (6 euros) on
opera-club.net
Unfortunately no libretto or translation included.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Outstanding Survery At An Incredible Price, 31 Mar 2013
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This review is from: Wagner Complete Operas (Audio CD)
Some reviewers have commented that none of these recordings would be 'first choices' for the works concerned. Peronally, I would disagree: both the Solti Parsifal and the Lohengrin are, to my mind, the finest recordings of these operas to be had, certainly in stereo; I also highly esteem Carlos Kleiber's unique but hardly controversial recording of Tristan Und Isolde (even if CK himself was, apparently, not that keen on it). The Sinopoli Tannhauser may not be the best there is (that palm goes to the Solti) but I'd say it IS certainly the best of the digital era.

Domingo is all over this box: he appears in no less than four operas and, while I take the point that his singing isn't always idiomatic, it is a refreshing change to hear this kind of voice in this kind of repertoire. I particularly like what his Italianate style adds to Lohengrin, making the titular character really sound like a being from another world.

Elsewhere, we have Levine's underestimated Ring cylce from the late 80s/early 90s. This may not be a total success, but the recording quality is still superb and anything that features performances by the likes of James Morris and Jessye Norman in their prime cannot be discounted. Sinopoli's Hollander is also an interesting interpretation, which illuminates the affinity Wagner had with bel canto opera, something that is rarely acknowledged.

Which leaves the recordings of Die Feen and Das Liebesverbot....DG has been extremely enterprising in obtaining the rights to these BBC recordings, as they make it a clincher over EMI's rival set, which does not include the first two. Both performances are excellent and the recordings hold up well next to the glossier ones from Decca/DG sources. I only wish that they could have licensed Downes's recording of Rienzi as well, rather than duplicating it with the Hollreiser recording featured in the EMI box; the Downes version was, apparently, fuller.

So, all in all, this is an excellent bargain: a pretty good bet for someone new to Wagner, too, though no one recording can ever be definitive.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 17 April 2013
By 
Mr. Peter J. Slater (U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Wagner Complete Operas (Audio CD)
For the money, + the rare operas of Die Feen & Das Liebesverbot, also access with code to all the libretto's, it would be bad manners to pass this offer by...................Highly Recommended.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great gift, 13 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Wagner Complete Operas (Audio CD)
Got this as a gift for my brother in law, came quickly and he really loves it! nice box it came in too! great gift.
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11 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars too many misses as a set, 17 Mar 2013
By 
Col William Russell (Springfield, VA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Wagner Complete Operas (Audio CD)
On the plus side, it's good for a "complete" box to actually be complete, in this case by the inclusion of Wagner's two early operas. That said, there's more wrong than right with this box because each of the operas can be found in better recordings elsewhere. The main part of the box is Levine's Ring which is a travesty. Could this man even read music? He certainly doesn't understand it. The only reason that I can imagine that noncritical listeners profess to "like" him is because, like Solti, he drags along through acts with no comprehension but manages to end them fast and loud. Nice work if you can get it. I n addition, the Jochum MEISTERSINGER is a dud with leaden tempi and a Sachs who doesn't have a clue as well as having the wrong voice for the role. Don't get me wrong. Fischer-Dieskau is a superb artist in lieder and a beautiful voice but his voice is too light for Sachs and never breathes life into the character.

For a stereo Ring cycle, Karl Bohm's is the best hands down. For a stereo MEISTERSINGER, the Dresden one under von Karajan would be my pick. If stereo isn't a requirement (and it shouldn't be), then I recommend the 1953 or 1956 Bayreuth Rings.
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