Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen [Blu-ray]
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Outside Germany, the name Weimar tends to evoke mixed feelings
and pictures of German history of the last hundred years. Within
Germany, Weimar means a town in the state of Thuringia arguably
saturated with the 'Deutsche Kultur' of the 'Weimarer Klassik', the
legendary Bauhaus, and finally the life and work of Franz Liszt and
his son in law Richard Wagner. In Weimar Richard Wagner began
composing the first part of his RING-cycle, 'Das Rheingold'.
In 2008 the Nationaltheater Weimar started a new production of
this unique tetralogy. The conductor is Carl St. Clair, a former student of Leonard Bernstein. With Michael Schulz fine and highly
intelligent staging this new 'Ring' production becomes an outstanding document of contemporary opera theatre.
Top Customer Reviews
Staging is minimal and claims to include all the props mentioned in Wagner's score and usually omitted (Fricka's rams cart, Grane represented by a women dressed in black, etc): plus obscure elements (once understood they are all relevant to the family saga concept).
The preludes to each of the operas accompany a silent drama filling in the gaps to flesh out the family saga concept. Also Hagen appears as a baby in Rheingold, and in Siegfried as a young man in a substantial silent part. They all start with various versions of the Norns' music that Wagner composed prior to the final version at the beginning of Gotterdammerung.
This is an ensemble version of the Ring and parts are switched between singers from opera to opera, resulting in a varying quality of singing.
The best performances are by Christine Hansmann (Fricka), Erin Caves (Loge and Siegmund) Kirsten Blanck (Sieglinde), Frieder Aurich (Mime) and Johnny van Hal acting a rather one dimensionsal Siegfried.
There are three Wotans and two Alberichs. In Rheingold Mario Hoff is Wotan and Thomas Mowes (Alberich), and they reverse their roles in Siegfried where Mowes develops a terrible wobble (surely not vibrato!) in his lower register. Renatus Meszar is the Walkurie Wotan and a fine Hagen. These singers succeed by a combination of acting and singing, rather than vocal performance alone.
Catherine Foster sings Brunnhilde throughout and gives arguably the best performance in the set with a fine clear voice that shines through the orchestra.
The acting throughout is good.
The somewhat understated conducting by Carl St.Read more ›
But at this point, they seem to have exhausted their funds. The sets generally appear to have been made by an amateur company, and one is left to wonder if there was a director present at all stages there are so many places where the cast seem to move aimlessly, unsure of where they are supposed to go. The conclusion of Gotterdammerung must represent the worst staging ever presented. Nothing happens.
Technically, the sound (PCM Stereo and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) is fine and the 16:9 1080i image reasonable.
In summary: musically quite good, but in no way outstanding; visually, a disaster.
This Ring is brought to life under conductor Carl St. Clair, who is a music director of the Pacific Symphony (I found it on Google maps to be near Los Angeles, California) where he has been for the last 20 years. Carl St. Clair is also a general music director and chief conductor of the German National Theatre and Staatskapelle Weimar. A student of Leonard Bernstein, he is also known as the first non-European to hold this position. The brochure declares the theme of this Ring to be the generational conflict, but to me the theme was more along the lines of esoteric exploration.
The prologue of the prologue opera starts with three schoolgirls as Norns who tell the tale of the stolen ring. The quest for eternal gold starts with a con-men Alberich presenting himself to the Rheinmaidens as a dwarf. Alberich is "dwarfed" by making him walk on his knees, creating the visual and motion effects very believable. For this purpose a special pair of boots strapped to his knees is cleverly devised.
The Rheinmaidens, a specie, rather than only three of them, appear as hands and heads and with the occasional nymph tail here and there as a prop.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The conducting is good. The singing is a big rough in places but generally good. What's the catch? This is the WORST staging of the ring I have ever seen. Read morePublished on May 5, 2011 by Amazon Customer
During the past decades we have become used to all sorts of ego trips by stage directors who felt they had what it takes to re-invent the Stage Festival Play for Three Days and a... Read morePublished on December 22, 2010 by Hedahedo
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