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Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen -- Metropolitan/Levine [DVD] [2002] [NTSC]

4.3 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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  • Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen -- Metropolitan/Levine [DVD] [2002] [NTSC]
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Product details

  • Actors: Hildegard Behrens, James Morris, Jessye Norman, Christa Ludwig, Gary Lakes
  • Directors: Brian Large
  • Writers: Richard Wagner
  • Format: Box set, Classical, Colour, Dolby, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English, French, Chinese, Spanish, German
  • Dubbed: German
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 7
  • Classification: Exempt
  • Studio: Deutsche Grammophon
  • DVD Release Date: 14 Oct. 2002
  • Run Time: 941 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006L9ZT
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 70,714 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

James Levine conducts the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra in this performance of Wagner's complete ring cycle.

From Amazon.co.uk

The James Levine cycle of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen is humane and emotionally powerful rather than monumental or spiritual; Levine is more interested in finding our sympathy for the characters than inspiring pity or terror. These are very traditional productions in which you see a rock where you need to see a rock, a dragon where the libretto says a dragon (the Metropolitan Opera has never been a place for experiment). What Levine and the Met can and do offer is excellent orchestral playing and some of the best singers in these roles in the world. Siegfried Jerusalem is boyish and naive and touching as Siegfried, and he is also surprisingly good as the detached mischievous Loge of Das Rheingold. James Morris is uniformly impressive as Wotan and makes the character evolve from the young ruthless god of the first opera to the tired old god of Siegfried, who seeks nothing more than his own necessary defeat and death. As Brunnhilde, Hildegard Behrens makes a convincing shift from goddess to woman, from callousness to tenderness and on to vindictiveness and self-sacrificing wisdom. Overall, this is an attractive Ring cycle, well-cast and beautifully played; others have greater strengths in some areas, but Levine is reliable across the board.

On the DVD: Der Ring des Nibelungen has all four operas, which are also available individually, contained in a single box. All the DVDs come with a photo gallery of the Metropolitan Opera productions and with menus and subtitles in German, French, English, Spanish and Chinese. It's a little disappointing, though, that they are presented in American NTSC format, not European PAL, and the picture ratio is standard TV 4:3. On the plus side, they all have an excellent clear acoustic in the three audio options: PCM stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1. --Roz Kaveney

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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If you want the only "traditional" setting of this great masterwork, this is the one for you. From the 1990 Met, with a terrific cast and beautifully acted, staged, recorded and sung(Morris' Wotan is spectacular!).I strongly urge you to get this one over the recent Met version. As far as I can tell, not having viewed them, the others are set in more modern times(i.e. the Industrial revolution of the 19th century). I prefer my Ring with real Norse gods and dragons....not with evil industrialists and modern firearms, thank you!
Great set.
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There's a lot to commend this production. Firstly the quality of the music from the Met orchestra under Levine is magnificent, and if you can hear it in DTS 5.1 via a home cinema system that alone will blow you away. So it's thumbs up for the ears. As to what your eyes are treated to, it's a mixed bag to say the least. The sets are largely good, being 'traditional' but in the main they are also static. So, you would think more imagination would have gone into the direction of the actors, but I'm afraid to say the acting is not convincing in large parts of all four operas. The acting is as static as the sets. The singers who pull it off the best are Morris, Jerusalem (in both roles) and Salminen (as Hagen). But you only have to see Siegfried Jerusalem's better portrayal of Siegfried in the Barenboim / Kupfer Ring DVD to see that's it's largely not the fault of the singers. There are other casting issues: other reviewers have mentioned Norman and Lakes and it doesn't work for me either. And it has nothing to do with the Volsung lineage or colour of skin; it's the fact that Norman is too strong for the role of fragile Sieglinde. Lakes sings the role of Siegmund but doesn't act it and he's often glancing at Levine rather than looking at Norman. I felt no connection to them as characters. Similarly, Behrens is mostly good but she struggles towards the end of Gotterdammerung. As for Gotterdammerung itself, I have to say the finale is a triumph for stage effects; it's worth the admission price alone. And Salminen's Hagen is evil personified. Once Salminen appears in Act I of Gotterdammerung, he steals almost every scene he's in.

There are lots of dramatic highlights but interestingly it's usually where the orchestra takes over from the singers, such as during the transition scenes or preludes.
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I totally concur with the positive comments others have made about the singing, conducting, set design, direction, etc. For me, the deal breaker is the picture quality. Put bluntly, it is AWFUL. Maybe I've been spoilt by the razor sharp images of blu ray and hi-def television (and for that matter, widescreen), but this looks muddy, smeary, with poor colour, etc, etc. Wagner always intended the Ring to be an equal marriage of sound and vision, and here it plain isn't. This is a huge shame because with better picture quality, this would, I think, be my favourite set.
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If you regret that no modern production is ever true to Wagner's own stage directions - and you should, because it is always disappointing these days, usually ugly or merely provocative for no good reason - this is the one for you because it looks so damn good and is brilliantly performed. I've more or less decided never to go to a live Ring again after spending so much on productions that simply make you squirm. Save your money - buy the CDs!
Or do as I did and simply live with Solti's old, unequalled original recording from the 60s and make your own stage scenes in your head. They will always be better than any modern production!
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Being a serious stage Wagner opera fan I agree with much of the praise for the music and singing on this disc. However I was disappointed with the NTSC format resulting in a less than perfect visual experience. In fact everyone of the seven discs jumped or snatched throughout the whole opera. Unknowing about these technical matters, is this normal for a region 0 disc or are the technicians trying to put 941 mins of music and film onto too few discs? Or is the NTSC format just not for us? I would appreciate some informed comment.
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...and, in all probability, an excellent introduction for newcomers. Music, being subjective, means that there can never be a 'perfect' version or performance. What one person hates, another loves. For me, James Morris makes a superb Wotan - I, also, love Donald McIntyre's interpretation - the late Hildegarde Behrens does struggle, vocally, at times, but still gives us a fine Brunnhilde. I do find it odd to see Jessye Norman as a downtrodden Sieglinde, but she does have a voice to die for. The aptly named Siegfried Jerusalem is a fine hero.
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This is an excellent staging of the ring, which thankfully remained true to the composer's intentions. The orchestra was superb and Behrensas Brunhilde looked the part. Wlaschiha was the best Alberich I've heard since Neidlinger. Marvelously staged and acted by all.
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Excellent. Couldn't ask for more. Good filming technique (contrary to many operas on DVD).
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