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Wagner:Die Walkure [Blu-ray]

3.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Naxos of America
  • DVD Release Date: November 11, 2008
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001IZ6OJ2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #960,844 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
It's curious, although perhaps fitting that Die Walküre would emerge as Wagner's first work to be released on Blu-ray. After all, this opera is about transitions. Rather than advancing the Ring narrative linearly, Die Walküre tells its own story and still stands as the turning point in the Ring cycle. It sets into motion a sequence of events whose effects become known by the later consequences revealed in Siegfried and Götterdämmerung. Consequently, Die Walküre can stand on its own requiring nothing logically prior to it. But enough of that. Let's get to the Blu-ray.

Wagner in high definition. Let me just say that this is a home video medium that can finally begin to do justice to his work. The video on this disc, filled with numerous close-ups that draw the viewer in, is superb even while falling short of reference quality for the Blu-ray format. The audio, presented here in DTS HD 5.1 is crystal clear and fully dynamic in its range. Experiencing the 1080p image on a 100" home theater screen with high-end audio is like being in the opera house, but at the same time more intimate - sort of like being on stage with the performers and feeling their parts as they do. It is a very personal and profound experience. This is the way opera, and Wagner in particular, is meant to be experienced.

The performance is from the Aix-en-Provence Festival in 2007 and is part of a Ring cycle that will conclude in 2009. Reviews have been generally positive and there is optimism for continued success in the remaining operas. There has also been controversy, mostly over the production. So what else is new?

The minimalist staging of Stéphane Braunschweig will not appeal to everyone. In fact it may appeal to very few.
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Format: Blu-ray
Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra steal the show. The playing of the Berlin Orchestra under Simon Rattle is sumptuous. It is enormously helped by the high definition sound recording in DTS-HD 5.1. In orchestral performance, this may not be the best version of this opera, but it will certainly find a place among the best.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the singers. Only Eva-Marie Westbroek, as Sieglinde, is thoroughly convincing vocally. The other three main singers (Siegmund, Wotan and Brunnhilde) are completely unsatisfactory. Robert Gambill, as Siegmund has serious problems with the most dramatic moments, though he can sing delicately in some moments such as in the Wintersturme; Sir Willard White is more impressive physically than vocally. But the most serious problem in the cast is the Brunnhilde of Eva Johansson. To much strain in her voice, far from being a good Brunnhilde. How come that another better singer was not available? Her perforfance as actress is not entirely convincing, since she tries to compensate for her weak vocal performance by exaggerating facial expressions. Mikhail Petrenko is impressive as Hunding, but only physically. His voice, however, is too light to convey menace. It is difficult to forget Matti Salminen in this role. Lilli Paasikivi is OK as Fricka.
Part of the difficulty faced by the singers is due to their own limitations but part is due to the balance between orchestra and voice. In Bayreuth the orchestra is hidden, so that its sound does not cover the voices even in the most powerful tutti. But here, in Aix-en-Provence, the orchestra is completely exposed; therefore, its sound is much stronger, forcing the singers to their limits.
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Format: DVD
I am no professional musician or critic, but I have hearing different versions of Die Walküre for at least 40 years, including Karajan's, Solti's, Furtwangler's, Levine's, Boulez's, and others. So my first comment is that I enjoyed this version very much and was emotionally moved by it, which in the end is most important.

I specially like Rattle's direction and the great performance of the Berlin Philharmonic, which seems at times to sound like a chamber orchestra.

The setting is a moder one, rather minimalistic, but for once I found it acceptable. Still, I found Wotan going under the table when Brünnhilde tells him Fricka is coming absurd and out of character.

As to the singers, I liked Eva-Maria Westbroek as Sieglinde, she manages to sing and act convincingly. Robert Gambill sings with no fault that I can discern, but acts more like he was drunk than tired. Sir Willard White as Wotan is a bit more solemn than tormented, and Eva Johansson as Brünnhilde is excellent, but a bit too defiant in the final scenes. I loved Mikhail Petrenko as Hunding, he managed to scare me off, so I can imagine his tyranny over Sieglinde. Good Fricka by Lilli Paasiviki.

I highly recommend this recording.
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