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The Copenhagen Ring: The Complete DVD Set

3.5 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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(Aug 12, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

First release of the acclaimed recent Ring Cycle production at the Royal Danish Opera. Striking, memorable and controversial staging by Kasper Bech Holten. The action, experienced as an extended flashback, presents Wagner s epic as a family saga from a feminist perspective. The production is visually stunning, disturbing and at times explicit. Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese

Review

A Ring to be reckoned with. --Financial Times, London

One Ring cycle I can recommend heartily musically satisfying, dramatically engaging and full of memorable imagery. --Opera Now

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Stig Andersen, Irenie Theorin, Gitta-Maria Sjoberg, Johan Reuter, Stephen Milling
  • Directors: Kasper Bech Holten
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Box set, Classical, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, NTSC, Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: German (DTS 5.1), German (PCM Stereo)
  • Subtitles: Chinese, English, French, German, Spanish
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 7
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Decca
  • DVD Release Date: August 12, 2008
  • Run Time: 920 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0019LZ19O
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #174,563 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Reactions to this Ring production have been varied; see other posted reviews. As with most "modern" productions, there are liberties taken with the settings, costumes, and interactions among the characters that may be stimulating or irritating to the viewer. Rheingold takes place in the early 20th century (1920s?). The maidens cavort about dressed as "flappers" in a nightclub; Alberich drinks like a fish; the gold is personified as a young adult male swimming in a lobster tank. The first scene introduces three motifs that recur throughout this production: booze (all the major male characters drink frequently -- no doubt a comment on their weakness), blood and brutality (besides the scripted deaths additional characters are bumped off, always in a graphic, brutal manner). This is not a "PG" Ring. As a Ring lover, I found most of this production entertaining and often provocative. One effect of living in our time with video and audio recordings readily available is that a performance of the Ring is not a particularly unusual event. To be special productions have to introduce novel interpretations. So far, thankfully, the music and libretto have not often been violated; that leaves the setting, costumes, and stage action as the domains for creative directors. The major conceit in the Copenhagen production is the the idea that Brunnhilde seeks out the history of her predicament between Acts 2 and 3 of Gott. The earlier operas become something of a flashback; she appears periodically (often during scene changes in the earlier operas) pouring over diaries and souvenirs (from Valhalla's library?) that recount the history of the ring. Although great effort went into achieving this effect, for me all of this effort doesn't add or subtract much from the production.Read more ›
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Notwithstanding all the positive customer reviews, the truth is that neither the conductor nor most of the performers evince much talent for Wagner. The one notable exception is Stig Andersen, who plays both Siegmund and Siegfried. He is the main reason why this silly sci-fi/horror themed Ring is worth watching.

The production begins with a gory "Das Rheingold." Wagner's romanticism largely falls by the wayside, but of course that is the case with most contemporary Rings. (Can it be doubted that ours is a thoroughly unromantic age?) Now, there is something to be said for emphasizing the dark side of Wagner's work. The composer himself spoke of the "ghostly fifths" that he found so eerie as a child. He often recalled the thrilling Wolf's glen scene in Weber's Der Freischutz, which made such a frightening impression on his young imagination. He even described some of his own music for the Ring -- specifically, music he wrote for the villian, Hagen -- as "demonic . . . annihilatory syncopations . . . a concert for toads, crows, and ravens." One of the problems with this Copenhagen Ring, however, is that the conductor, and subsequently the orchestra, fails to evoke this frightening side of Wagner even while the mise en scene tries to emphasize the story's horror. Moreover, without the redemptive, counterbalancing force of Wagner's almost metaphysical romanticism -- the art-as-a-religion seriousness that he advocated -- you end up with a staging so lopsided that it can no longer be taken seriously as Wagnerian. You wind up with what amounts to a B-grade horror movie, one that doesn't take ITSELF very seriously. In short, you wind up with camp. This is a very juvenile, campy Ring cycle.
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This Ring is different from all other Rings on DVD and is mostly successful in what it aims to bring. It is wonderful to have this pinnacle of operatic spectacles in a staging worthy of the subject, a stage with `actors who can sing' as Wagner wished it. The singers do act as if in a movie and the DVD has been filmed as a dramatic movie, not as a static stage performance though a live stage performance it of course is. This may at times be a bit tiresome as images and image angles may seem to switch a bit too often but most of the time by far this cinematographic approach pays off well and enhances the drama without disturbing the operatic enjoyment. The result is an experience unlike the live experience in the opera house itself but I'm inclined to say the choice was well made. After all, a film on DVD is not a stage performance even if it is based on one.
Staging and acting, all of the visuals are evidently extremely important in a DVD release and the Copenhagen Ring gives you decors to relish and acting on a very high and convincing level indeed. As in the Boulez Ring, the acting closely follows the music and specifically the text though it may sometimes appear to stretch the imagination a little too far. The film quality in itself is superb and so is the sound.
Speaking of sound, the orchestra is more than up to the task. No one I think expects this orchestra and this conductor to give the best-ever performance of Wagner's Ring on record. It is however more than adequate to deliver a good reading that never disappoints and often impresses.
There are moments when the singing (never less than adequate, often quite good) struggles without really succeeding to rise above the orchestra.
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