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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 26 August 2017
Wagner’s mammoth opera tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen is impossible to stage perfectly. No one production has all the answers to the multiple problems set by the composer and this Guy Cassiers version for La Scala Milan recorded between 2010 and 2013 is as imperfect as any in the catalogue. However, it does successfully carry out the primary golden rule of any worthy Ring production which is to accentuate the mythology so cutting to the very essence of the piece. On this count alone the production is well worth seeing.

Too many productions attempt to set the Ring in a precise time and place in order to impose some kind of directorial thesis on what the work means to us today. Some of these attempts are trite and laughable while others are stimulating and thought-provoking, but when all is said and done the Ring shouldn’t be narrowed down. It is not just a pseudo-GBS parable on 19th century industrialization (Patrice Chéreau, Bayreuth 1976). Neither is it just an exposé of late 20th century consumerism (Nikolaus Lehnhoff, Munich 1987) or a history of 20th century feminism (Casper Ben Holten, Copenhagen 2006). And it certainly isn’t simply a sterile ‘traditional’ museum piece incarceration of some idealized fake mythic past (Otto Schenk, New York Met 1989). Wagner set his work in timeless mythology because he wanted to accentuate themes and central truths about human nature which stay eternally relevant in any time and in any place. Any production attempting to get to the heart of the piece must ensure that the sets, costumes and props chosen underline this core requirement.

Cassiers stays faithful to the spirit of Wagner with his idea of a wall of myth in which human bodies are entwined together in the manner of an enormous fresco as might have been created by Peter Paul Rubens. These bodies sometimes move and are often static as they make for a perpetually changing fantastic tableau that is revealed in various cunning ways gradually as the Ring plays out. It becomes clear that the characters on stage gradually take their place in this tableau as their lives run their course. Things become crystal-clear at the end of Siegfried which concludes with Brünnhilde and Siegfried singing their hearts out in gray clothing atop a gray Valkyrie rock in front of the (for now) gray wall of myth, their place in mythology miraculously petrified before our very eyes.

Götterdämmerung charts how devious mankind perverts this mythology for its own selfish ends. In the Norns scene the rock is stripped of mystery as the rope snaps and the wall of myth becomes a hideous showcase of gruesome hacked-up body parts which represents the treacherous world of the Gibichungs. The process by which characters die and take their place in the tableau is shown with amazing clarity in the filmic images projected onto the wall of myth during Siegfried’s funeral march, and indeed this production is full of ever-changing very colorful lighting and projected filmic images which accompany the stage action from beginning to end.

Sometimes things get too complicated and distracting as what we see works against what we hear. Despite all the high-tech Cassiers still can’t manage a scary dragon in either Das Rheingold or Siegfried. Even the frog is botched, though Grane makes a rare and very beautiful appearance at the end of Götterdämmerung. Das Rheingold is the most problematic of the four stagings with only the appearance of Erda rising high above a moon-lit vista of mountains striking the appropriate note of mythic awe. I can’t agree at all with the Rheingold ending as staged here with music conveying the irony of the Gods marching into Valhalla while we listen to the Rhinemaidens’ lament set to a jet-black stage with the Gods and Valhalla complete hidden with only Loge visable at the stage front playing the now customary (clichéd?) role of stage manager. The irony of the music should be matched with the irony of the stage picture, not just a cop out in the dark which seems to be an economic measure to sidestep the problem of creating a rainbow bridge. From Die Walküre onwards though, Cassiers’ chosen stage imagery on the whole cunningly matches the narrative as it proceeds. Wisely things are always hinted at rather than directly hit over the head and we really do sense the physical geography of Wagner’s creation which so many other productions simply ignore – the bed and banks of the Rhine, the mountain tops, the forests, the Valkyrie rock, the magic fire and all the other natural elements as well. Costumes and props are carefully chosen to avoid any hint of historical time as we are encouraged to interact with the text with the sense of also being a part of this mythology in the making. This is perhaps the key point – that myth isn’t just something created long ago in the dim and distant past. It is something that is forever in the process of being created. Present events cumulatively add up to the myths of the future. This comes over extraordinarily well in Cassiers’ final image as we are placed squarely in the La Scala audience as the lights go up to contemplate the wall of myth stretching across the stage front in the full glare of the light of our own reality.

Imposing a sense of myth by crafting a production around one central visual idea is hardly original. Götz Friedrich’s ‘time tunnel’ (Berlin, 1980) and Harry Kupfer’s ‘world’s highway’ (Bayreuth, 1988) both stated the Ring’s mythic timeless dimension very effectively, but they both imposed a dark monotony on proceedings which audiences found hard to take. Cassiers’ wall of myth is far less immobile and dreary as it is moved up and down, side to side, split into pieces and transformed into multiple guises. There is darkness when required just as there is extraordinary brightness which makes this Ring the most colorful in my experience this side of Keith Warner’s Tokyo production (2001-2004).

Where Cassiers’ production falls seriously short is in the lack of stage direction given to the singers. Too often singers simply stand still and sing their lines in the manner of an oratorio given in front of all the high-tech images with characters barely relating to each other at all. On this point Kupfer’s Bayreuth production wins hands down and remains for me the finest Ring on DVD. Kupfer captures the timeless mythology of the piece albeit starkly with very little on stage by way of props and scenery, and he moves his singers supremely well forcing the weight of the drama and all its themes through the acting and the singing to make for a Ring that above everything else is deeply human. The comparative stasis and dramatic inertia of Cassiers’ production is shown up especially in scenes 2 and 4 of Das Rheingold where characters stand on a crowded stage declaiming their lines directly to the audience as if their colleagues don’t exist, even when the text demands they address each other. On Loge singing “Deiner hand, Donner, entsinkt ja der Hammer! [From your hand, Donner, you’re dropping the hammer!],” he walks past Donner without even looking at him. Donner doesn’t react at all and isn’t even holding a hammer. This makes absolute nonsense of the text. Alas, it is commonplace in Wagner production these days and Cassiers makes a habit of flagrantly disregarding text throughout his Ring, another screaming example being the setting of the ride of the Valkyries. If there’s one thing the scene needs it’s movement or at least the suggestion of movement. Cassiers’ Valkyries are statues in a ride of the Valkyries that doesn’t even attempt to ‘ride.’

The lack of stage direction for the singers brings out the difference between the experienced ones who have learned their trade from people like Kupfer and Chéreau and who instinctively know how to react, and the relatively inexperienced ones who haven’t learned their trade from such masters. In the first camp there are John Tomlinson (Hagen), Waltraud Meier (Sieglinde, the Götterdämmerung Waltraute and 2nd Norn), Nina Stemme (the Walküre and Siegfried Brünnhilde), Anna Larsson (Erda), Simon O’Neill (Siegmund), Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke (the Rheingold Mime), Gerd Grochowski (Gunther) and Mikhail Petrenko (Hagen). All of them have a sure instinct for what their roles require and act with a conviction not apparent in the rest of the cast. Wotan suffers most seriously of all with all three singers hardly hinting at the depths of emotion crucial for the role. Vitalij Kowaljow (in Die Walküre) especially is in dire need of being told what to do on stage with important passages like the act 2 monolog and the act 3 farewell to Brünnhilde passing for nothing despite being well sung. Also stiff and noticeably plank-like are Johannes Martin Kränzle (Alberich), Stephan Rügamer (Loge) and especially Lance Ryan (Siegfried). All three should dominate the stage but never do.

Much criticism has been leveled at the dancing Cassiers chooses to inflict on us, and I can’t stand it either. I’m certain Wagner would have cringed, especially during Das Rheingold where we are forced to ponder all the vague gesturing while we should be paying attention to the text and listening closely to the music. It’s all very distracting, but at least the dancing does originate from an interesting idea. The figures seem to come straight out of the wall of myth as representatives of change. Presenting the Tarnhelm as a group of dancers makes this obvious and leads eventually to a wonderful coup d’thêatre at the end of Götterdämmerung act 1 when Siegfried changed to the form of Gunther steals the ring from Brünnhilde’s finger, done here by Siegfried standing aside watching the dancers (the Tarnhelm) smother the victim with a black cloak. There’s something wonderfully sinister here which is most impressive especially as most other productions tend to botch the scene. In Das Rheingold though sadly the dancing gets out of hand and threatens to smother the whole show. We don’t need it for the three changes of scene (especially with very audible splashing of water) and we certainly don’t need an already cluttered stage cluttered even more with unnecessary bodies doing unnecessary things. Alberich’s transformations into a dragon and then a frog done by dancers surrounding him is both unconvincing and laughable. Nikolaus Lehnhoff in San Francisco (1990) and Keith Warner in Tokyo both show how terrifyingly well it can be done. The dancers hardly appear from Die Walküre onwards and it would benefit the whole tetralogy if they were cut completely from Das Rheingold as well.

Musically this Ring is frankly uneven and people shouldn’t expect too much. Since the 1950s the quality of Wagner singing generally has been on a downward slide and today true heldentenors and dramatic sopranos are as elusive as the Holy Grail. The La Scala orchestra and chorus conducted by Daniel Barenboim are beyond reproach and produce a fabulous rich sonority though personally I'd prefer faster tempi with more fire in the belly. The singing predictably ranges from the excellent to the excruciating. Generally those mentioned above for their acting also produce the goods vocally. Tomlinson’s malevolent Hunding is gloriously venal while Waltraud Meier delivers a stunningly feminine Sieglinde. Her act 3 “O hehrstes wunder!” is delivered with enormous maternal compassion as she cradles the splintered Nothung as if the sword is the baby Siegfried himself. As Waltraute in Götterdämmerung she sings her Brünnhilde off the stage underlining the parallels with the closing immolation scene in an incredibly moving way. Nina Stemme makes a bright-voiced and steady Brünnhilde in the middle operas which eclipses for me her Glyndebourne Isolde. She’s in a class of her own today as a dramatic soprano. The best singing in Das Rheingold comes from Ablinger-Sperrhacke as Mime. A beautifully characterized vignette, he should really have been singing Loge instead and even the Siegfried Mime, though Peter Bronder there makes a good fist of the role. Overall Die Walküre is the best sung of the four operas, wobbly Valkyries aside. Despite the wooden acting (probably not his fault) Kowaljow sings accurately and firmly as Wotan as does Terje Stensfold as the Wanderer. Wotan is voiced best of all in Das Rheingold by René Pape who shows off an extremely beautiful noble tone. He seems rather stiff to me though. Perhaps like many of the others he’s suffering from not knowing what to do on stage. A lot of the singing is on the safe side with notes hit accurately and lots of glances at Barenboim as he slows down even more to let his singers negotiate the more difficult passages. This is especially true of Lance Ryan who would have done better to relax and play the lout more. He certainly looks the part and is probably the best Siegfried we’ve had since Siegfried Jerusalem, but he is no natural heldentenor and the search is still on for a modern day Wolfgang Windgassen. Rügamer’s Loge and Kränzle’s Alberich are both sung well without hitting the heights or being very characterful. Watch the Kupfer Bayreuth production and you realize they don’t really stand comparison with Graham Clark and Günther von Kannen. Indeed, role for role and even note for note coming from the orchestra pit, the Kupfer/Barenboim Ring is still the one to go for. Nevertheless, if you fancy a Ring in state of the art modern sound in a production that gets most of the essentials right the Cassiers version is a fair recommendation. Just beware the pitfalls. It’s very sad and bitterly ironic that as the quality of stage technology and recorded sound goes from strength to strength, so top quality true Wagner singing becomes an increasingly distant thing of the past.

Cast details:

DAS RHEINGOLD***
René Pape (Wotan), Jan Buchwald (Donner), Marco Jentzsch (Froh), Stephan Rügamer (Loge), Johannes Martin Kränzle (Alberich), Wolfgang Ablinger Sperrhacke (Mime), Kwangchul Youn (Fasolt), Timo Riihonen (Fafner), Doris Soffel (Fricka), Anna Samuil (Freia), Anna Larsson (Erda), Aga Mikolaj (Woglinde), Maria Gortsevskaya (Wellgunde), Marina Prudenskaya (Floßhilde)

DIE WALKÜRE****
Simon O’Neill (Siegmund), Waltraud Meier (Sieglinde), John Tomlinson (Wotan), Vitalij Kowaljow (Wotan), Ekaterina Gubanova (Fricka), Nina Stemme (Brünnhilde), Danielle Halbwachs (Gerhilde), Carola Hoehn (Ortlinde), Ivonne Fuchs (Waltraute), Anaik Morel (Schwertleite), Susan Foster (Helmwige), Leann Sandel-Pantaleo (Siegrune), Nicole Piccolomini (Grimgerde), Simone Schroeder (Roßweise)

SIEGFRIED****
Lance Ryan (Siegfried), Peter Bronder (Mime), Terje Stensfold (Der Wanderer), Alexander Tsymbalyuk (Fafner), Johannes Martin Kränzle (Alberich), Rinnat Moriah (Der Waldvögel), Anna Larsson (Erda), Nina Stemme (Brünnhilde)

GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG****
Lance Ryan (Siegfried), Gerd Grochowski (Gunther), Johannes Martin Kränzle (Alberich), Mikhail Petrenko (Hagen), Iréne Theorin (Brünnhilde), Anna Samuil (Gutrune), Waltraud Meier (Waltraute), Aga Mikolaj (Woglinde), Maria Gortsevskaya (Wellgunde), Anna Lapkovskaya (Floßhilde), Margarita Nekrasova (1. Norn), Waltraud Meier (2. Norn), Anna Samuil (3. Norn)
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on 25 December 2013
The musical qualities of this Rheingold are extraordinary. Others have pointed out certain strengths and weakness, but averaged out over the whole performance, the buyer can rest assured he or she is getting a first class redition. Rene Pape produces such consistently beautiful tone quality as Wotan, you can comfortably disregard minor quibbles about a slight tiredness at a few points. Barenboim’s conducting , emphases the grandness of Wagner’s orchestration, especially in relation to the brass which is really quite earth shattering.

On the production side of this, I find this the perfect Rheingold for repeated home viewing. Having seen this Ring production in Berlin this year, I can vouch that this should apply to this whole cycle.

It is beautiful to look at; visual images and colour are stunning. It portrays the mythic spectacle of the drama while representing a valid modern interpretation of the themes. It is a perfect balance. Traditionalists will appreciate the clarity of story and spectacle, while those seeking a more contemporary interpretation of Wagner’s ideas will not be disappointed with what’s on offer. The use of water throughout enhances without intrusion. The representation of the giants as shadows is simple and effective, absolutely the most remarkable I have ever seen.

Much controversy and criticism has been leveled at the inclusion of dancers (at the performance I attended in Berlin, the dancers were booed while performing). To be fair, most people I know don’t like it. I don’t see what all the fuss is about. I didn’t find them any more distracting than other scenic effects which might be employed in a modern Ring production. The idea of their “morphing” into the tarnhelm is very clever and looks brilliant.

I am looking forward to the rest of this cycle on blu ray with much excitement.
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on 7 September 2013
Une qualité de son et d'image superlative. Des chanteurs de très haut niveaux et physiquement crédibles. Pas de grosses dondons comme dans d'autres réalisation. Se situe dans la même veine que la version Metha en moins imaginative toutefois et plus statique.
Une très belle réalisation, vivement la suite
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 17 September 2013
According to Steinberg in this Rhinegold booklet, the mythic value of the Rhine,is the world before language and before meaning.The transition to the human world happens abruptly with the entrance of the first Rhine maiden,and the disruption comes as a shock.Something has been lost:the state of nature;the world before time.It is as if we had been given a momentary re-entry into a biological Eden,into our own infancy. We only understand this when it is over,and we understand this through the melancholy of loss which informs all earthly reality.What kind of human world are we in after Alberich's theft of the gold?The ring then examines three patterns of Human desire;lust,love;power;knowledge.However,Lee states"Original sinners of myth are ambivalent figures. Their primal offenses bring evil into the world but have ultimately positive effects. The wrestling of consciousness from Nature is associated with guilt,but the step had to be taken if the human race was to break with mothering Nature,keeping it unaware.The stage director and set designer Guy Cassiers views on Rhinegold and the Ring, require a lengthy explanation,so I will write the review first.I do own 10 Bluray and DVD rings,as well as Bohm,Solti,Keilberth 1955 Ring,also,the first Ring ever recorded 1926-1932,cond Blech & Coates-Gala Vol 1&2.So I can state this Rhinegold could suit the traditionalists.

The staging is not over complicated. The Rhinemaidens have a background of water beneath their feet and in the back ground.The next scene is a green rocky place.Underground,grey and red.Above ground there is a moon over the darken background,with what I think is Valhalla.When Erda comes into the scene she stands tall above everyone else behind a dark ultramarine background. Just before the Gods go into their new home,there is a blurred background of naked bodies. This could represent the dead heroes,or Greek Gods.The costumes are circa 1876(premiere of the Ring) or 1850,should be 1851 when Wagner started writing the Ring.Long skirts etc.Only Wotan wears a type of suit.There are dancers at various stages of the performances from the Eastman Ballet company,Antwerp.For example,when Alberich becomes a snake and a frog, they cover him and attempt to become those reptiles. The giants are represented by huge shadows,holding a shadow of Freia.Yet the singers taking the role of Fasolt and Fafner, are the usual size,and wear black suits.The Teatro alla Scala is conducted by Daniel Barenboim,who brings out the lyrical side of das Rhinegold.His tempo's are quick and the music seems to flow and float.Barenboim's insight is far greater then it was in the Bayreuth Ring DVD he conducted years ago.Having an Italianite sound makes a difference.

The singers are all good,and actually sing their roles;must be the Italian influence. Rene Pape is an excellent Wotan,who has a distinctive lyrical voice. Fricka-Doris Soffel is one of the best around and is up there with Randi Stene of the Copenhagen Ring cycle. I must make special mention of Loge Stephan Rugamer who makes much of the part with his beautiful tenor voice. Donner Jan Buchwald and Froh Marco Jentzsch are also very good. The Rhinemaidens are exceptional. Mime Wolfgang Sperrhacke makes much of his role. The outstanding Johannes Martin Kranzle is Alberich.He was Beckmesser in Glyndebourne's Meistersingers by Wagner.Fasolt Kwangchul Youn was Hunding in Thielemann's Bayreuth's Die Walkure. Fafner Timo Rihonen. Erda Anna Larsson has become a contralto and her voice suits the role.She was Fricka in the Valencia Ring.Freia Anna Samull has a great future ahead of her. There is not a weak link in the various roles. The HD sound is fine. I heard Das Rhinegold through earphones and without them. I could hear all the instruments in the orchestra and the voices perfectly.If you do not take much notice of the ideas behind Cassiers staging,you will enjoy this Rhinegold and the rest of the Ring cycle.It looks good.

Recorded 26th May 2010. PCM Stereo.dts-HD Master Audio 5.1. Subtitles: English.French,Spanish,Italian,Korean. 16.9. REGION: World wide. 1080i HD.

Wagner wrote the Ring's libretto backwards from Siegfrieds Tod,first written in 1848,becoming Gotterdammerung. In 1851 he decided to turn Siegfrieds Tod,into four dramas called the Ring of the Nibelungen.For he had read German,Scandinavian and Greek myths.But the idea of a four part cycle came from the ancient Greek festival of Dionysus at Athens. The related cycles of festival dramas were borrowed from Aeschylus.The blending of politics and myth:the interplay of Gods and humans he owed to Prometheus bound.Wagner adapted the technique of STABREIM(the linking of words and lines by alliteration instead of end rhyme) as a new way of writing the texts of the opera's. Modern speech was not suitable for mythic drama he thought.Also,Wagner thought that music cannot think-but she can materialize thoughts. So he created a system of musical motifs that both unify the drama and is capable of foreboding an emotion not yet defined in words.(leitmotif's).Though in Opera and Drama he writes that the poet dictates to the musician,however,apart from Rhinegold,he totally ignored the practice,music came first;especially after reading Schopenhauer in 1854.

But the German philosopher who most influenced Wagner in the writing of the Ring was Feuerbach,who wrote that Man created the idea of God,and that we have given him all the virtues we would like to have;perfect,eternal,almighty.He did think that instead of love of God we should love Man. For Feuerbach it was the I-you relationship,for without it we do not develop any social responsibility.Religion he thought told us about ourselves.Under this influence Wagner celebrated the fearless life-enhancing ethos of Greek culture in the Ring.Here Guy Cassiers the stage director, make a mistake,"the Ring explores human desire,or rather,human will,to use the Schopenhauerian word to which Wagner and his texts seemed ever more susceptible". The libretto was written in 1851-52 when he was under the influence of Feuerbach.He only came across Schopenhauer in 1854 when he was writing the music for Die walkure. Then he thought I have his views without knowing it.He only attempted to change the ending of Gotterdammerung;found he could not and used a beautiful theme from Die walkure.However,Wagner stopped at Act 2,Siegfried, and wrote Tristan und Isolde-a true Schopenhauer work,along with die Meistersingers,to enable him to complete the Feuerbach Ring.

Schopenhauer wrote that the world is evil,it is better not to be born,but do not commit suicide that only makes it worse. He stated be like the mystics,ignore life,take no part in it.He felt the will as he called it, was unknowable,and the world was a physical manifestation of this.When we die we all become one.Music he felt was uplifting and nearest to the unknowable. So after Wagner read this,music became more important then the poetry from Die Walkure onwards.

"Myth is timeless and is inexhaustible" stated Wagner.But Cassiers states "Myth must have history,or else it avoids history's specific traumas and crimes." "Chereau showed the way forward in 1976 with his Ring,recasting the Ring from 1870 -1930 at the moment of the unification of Germany to the Weimar crisis and the rise of Nazism". However,Chereau based his ideas on Shaws view on the subject,'In the Perfect Wagnerite',where he wrote that the Ring is about the evils of capitalism. Wagner started out with that in mind,but changed and saw it more as about Man and his inner world,that is why he used mythic symbols.For the director of Rhinegold, states that his Ring unfolds from the present day global moment,placing our present and our future in the context of the promises we have inherited from history.So the audience will interpret what they see and project it back on to the Ring,depending on how we view Wagner and his ring.Thus,we are influenced by the past,but interpret the now through this prism. Greed is here today and the artifical creation of desire in this world created by visual stimulation,like advertising.But there is hope. Maybe,through the experience of the Ring we will view our faults,and see ourselves as we are.I think Cassiers has missed the point, Myth is not about history,it is about our inner life.Symbols of Myths help us to get underneath the subconscious barriers we put up and get to that quiet essence of existence.

REFERENCES:Batta,A.(Ed)Opera.2005.Konemann. Donington,R. Wagner's Ring and his symbols 1976.Faber and Faber.Holden,A.(Ed) The Penguin opera Guide.1995.Viking. Lee,M. Turning the sky around.1994. Limelight productions.New York. Millington,B. Wagner the Sorcerer of Bayreuth.2012.Thames and Hudson. Watson,D. Richard Wagner.A biography. 1979. J.M. Dent and Sons.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 2 September 2013
The true musical merit and the importance of Das Rheingold is often underestimated or at least overlooked on account of its designation as merely the Prologue to the three parts proper of Wagner's epic Ring saga but it's essential to establish a precise balance and a vision that will propel the audience compellingly into this unique musical journey. The first part of the new Teatro alla Scala Ring, created in 2010, fulfils that remit well, with Daniel Barenboim managing proceedings with precision and drive from the orchestra pit and director Guy Cassiers fulfilling all the requirements to establish a suitable tone that fully supports the work.

I don't know what Wagner would have made of ballet being incorporated into Das Rheingold, but choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's work does help to draw out those deeper premonitory resonances within the work. In addition to the fine performance of the work on the surface level of the stage direction and the singing, the greater significance of what is being played out here is projected in abstract shimmering colours, textures and shadows on the background and in the movements of the dancers. On a straightforward level that means that there are giant-sized shadow counterparts for the giants Fasolt and Fafner, while the dancers meld together to form the Tarnhelm and its transformations, but the use of lighting, colours and abstract shimmering projections of water, rocks and gold also manage to convey a brooding mythological quality to the locations with premonitions of the dark consequences to the epic events that are about to unfold.

I wasn't sure that Johannes Martin Kränzle benevolent slightly comical appearance could carry off Alberich, even with the disturbing disfigurement of a "permanent smile" scar at the edges of his mouth, but he sings the role well and also manages to convey the right impression and tone for each scene. Stephan Rügamer is a sprightly Loge, clever but cautious, a spring in his step and in his voice. The use of shadowplay helps visualise the size and actions of the giants, but it's all there already in Kwang Chul Youn's much bigger sounding performance. The capabilities of Wotan and Fricke aren't tested here to the same extent that they are Die Walküre, but René Pape and Doris Soffel are fine if not quite outstanding in these roles here. Pape doesn't always appear to be as comfortable or authoritative in the role of Wotan as he probably ought to be, but how well he eventually manages to fulfils the role and whether that uncertainty is part of his character's make-up should become apparent in the subsequent parts of the Ring.

A BD25 disc might seem a little tight to cover an opera that is close to three hours long, but I detected no issues at all with the image or the sound. It looks great. There's no great benefit to the surround mix, which might even be a little bit too echoing even if it is mainly front-speaker based, but the stereo mix is strong, particularly when listened to through headphones. There are no extras on the disc, just an essay in the booklet that seems to have some rather high-flown ideas about the production. Subtitles are in German, English, French, Spanish, Italian and Korean.
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on 19 January 2014
A very different Rheingold with dancers being very prominent throughout. Not for purists who may be irritated by the intrusion of the dancers but I enjoyed it very much indeed having seen dozens of performances of The Ring and finding this refreshing It goes without saying that the soloists and orchestra were excellent otherwise it would have been a disaster.
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on 5 January 2015
What a very interesting production of this opera I have seen the complete ring but nothing came anyway near this rendition of this opera the singing was very good and I may continue to get the other operas in this production
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on 9 December 2013
Like D. W Carver I also received a faulty copy of this disc. Maybe it was the one he returned!! I have a top quality blu ray player with the latest firmware. The top menu offers only "opera" or "trailers" as options. Selecting opera simply plays the trailers, as does selecting trailers. Arthaus have provided no "set up" audio / subtitle options, something which I have experienced before with this label. I agree with one of the commentators this is lazy authoring. The companion La Scala Walkure from Arthaus offers the same minimal options on the top menu as the Rheingold but plays on my equipment, showing that this is not an equipment issue. I am returning the Rheingold to Amazon for refund. Caveat emptor.
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on 12 September 2013
My rating refers not to the performance but the product. My blu-ray copy was sent the day it was published. I found that it was impossible to access the so-called 'Top Menu' (namely Audio format, Subtitles, Scenes, etc.) My option was simply "Opera" or "Trailers". However my player was able to detect that the different audio formats and, of course, the various subtitles were present on the disc.

Having been buying these discs for very many years my experience is that this type of fault is not isolated - it usually affects a complete production batch so purchasers should be wary. I'm sure it will be put right in due course.

I have notified the British distributor of the problem but, disappointingly, they have so far failed to reply.
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