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Wagner: Gotterdammerung -- Metropolitan/Levine [DVD] 
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Performances from Hildegard Behrens, Siegfried Jerusalem, Matti Salminen, Christa Ludwig, Hana Lisowska, Anthony Raffell and Ekkehard Wlaschiha. Musical accompaniment comes from The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and Chorus.
Under the baton of James Levine, Gotterdammerung ("The Twilight of the Gods") has a narrative drive that reminds us that, of all the individual operas in Wagner's Ring cycle, this is the one most about human emotions and the one in which its heroes are pulled into a world where they are most vulnerable to them. Siegfried Jerusalem as Siegfried and Hildegard Behrens as Brunnhilde never, in a sense, stand a chance: they are innocents who allow themselves to be manipulated not merely by the villainous Hagen, but by the ordinary venality of Gunther and his sister Gutrune, who goes along with a dirty little scheme to get what she wants, and is destroyed by it.
As the tempter figure Hagen, Matti Salminen dominates the stage whenever he is on it; he is one of those basses whose voice and scowl seem to come from somewhere deeper than his large boots: rarely have the summoning of the vassals, or the oath of vengeance he, Gunther and Brunnhilde swear against Siegfried seemed so utterly his triumph. Jerusalem is almost perfect as Siegfried in spite of the gravelly quality of his heroic tenor: he has a glorious innocence even when the character is tricked into desecrating his true love; Hildegard Behrens is magnificent as Brunnhilde, both in her anger at Siegfried's apparent betrayal of her and in her redemptive understanding of how she has to atone for his death. Other Gotterdammerungs may be more monumental, but few make you care so passionately.
On the DVD: Gotterdammerung comes with menus and subtitles in German, French, English, Spanish and Chinese and with a picture gallery of the production. Awkwardly it is presented in (American) NTSC format, not PAL, and with a visual aspect of standard TV 4:3. More impressive is the choice of PCM stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS 5.1; the sound is admirably clear and well-balanced. --Roz Kaveney
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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.
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...
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I've the Metropolitan Opera / Deutsche-Grammophon DVDs superior in all respects.
You May Quibble about Whose performance of what character is better;
but ALL is subjective.