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Catalogue No: OA0910D
Shop Product Code: 2141294
The prologue to Wagner's giant masterpiece Der Ring des Nibelungen unfolds the beginning of an epic journey when Alberich seizes the ring of gold, its awesome power unleashing an unstoppable story of deceit, destruction, death and transfiguring love. Filmed at Barcelona's Gran Teatre del Liceu in 2004, Harry Kupfer's stunning production first staged in Berlin, and recorded in sumptuous surround sound, numbers among the greatest productions of modern times.
Falk Struckmann, Graham Clark, Günter von Kannen, Lioba Braun, Kwanchul Youn
Symphony Orchesta of the Gran Teatre del Liceu / Bertrand de Billy
Stage Director Harry Kupfer
A RHEINGOLD TO RELISH - May the gods be praised: a DVD Rheingold that works
‘Here begins another Kupfer cycle, in an up-to-date recording from Barcelona. And the good news is that it’s the most recommendable Rheingold so far.
It is rightly attentive to the Ring’s mythological core. Its centrepiece, towering above a black mirrored stage surface, is the massive World-Ash tree, from which we see Wotan tearing his spear, and around whose roots the Rhinemaidens gambol and climb. The action moves up and down the trunk with the aid of the Liceu’s splendid new machinery (putting Covent Garden’s to shame). This manages to embody the world of the Ring in a form stylised but aymospheric.
Bertrand de Billy’s warm, slowish reading is likeable. Falk Struckmann’s Wotan has a strong-voiced, dynamic presence. Graham Clark’s Loge, is incisively sung.
Lioba Braun, Elisabete Matos and Andrea Bönig are worthy goddesses. Veteran Matthias Hölle and rising star Kwangchul Youn are excellent Giants, android-like figures more effective than Bayreuth’s de-humanised monstrous puppets. That goes, too for the romantic rather than tarty Rhinemaidens, particularly Cristina Obregón’s Woglinde.
We finally have a decent modern staging on DVD, recorded in vivid surround sound and clear vision. I greatly enjoyed this, and look forward to the rest of the cycle.’
‘The opening instalment of Harry Kupfer’s Berlin Ring cycle (1996-99) is filmed here at the Liceu Theatre in Barcelona with Bertrand de Billy conducting. It’s a grand affair. The singing is good, and the orchestra plays with energy.’
‘The performance recorded here took place in Barcelona last June, but it is of the production which has been running for some years at Berlin’s Deutsche Staatsoper Unter den Linden.
The prelude to Rheingold starts, and we see the scene transformed into the depths of the Rhine, and in due course three exceptionally attractive Rhinemaidens gambolling. Both visually and aurally they are a delight, getting the cycle off to a buoyant start, suggesting the frivolous innocence of a pre-moral world.
Günter von Kannen…seems determined to present Alberich in the gentlest light, at least in this opening scene – and if it stops people from regarding him as the Ring’s villain, simply, that is all to the good. Von Kannen…in his cursing the Ring injects much vigorous venom. …take the very mannered Loge of Graham Clark. The Barcelona audience cheers him more loudly than anyone else. One hears how good a singing voice Clark has.
The chief of the gods is performed with immense insight by Falk Struckmann, who sounds fine here and creates an impressive persona. For once Wotan is allowed to be a god, even if he is headstrong, petulant, casual and duplicitous; and he is youthful, energetic, charged with libido.
Fricka is the unusually appealing Lioba Braun, who enjoys herself dressing Wotan down but is also flirtatious and teasing, and when they are discussing the decorative potential of the Ring they become, most welcomely, an amorous pair. The minor gods are good too, with Wolfgang Rauch an outstanding Donner, summoning the storm with rare authority. The giants are facially expressive.
De Billy’s conducting is reliable and occasionally more than that, detailed and with a good sense for building climaxes from a long way off. The orchestra doesn’t let things down. When the camera pans away we see how impressive the total stage picture is, with Kupfer always highly sensitive to the placing of every character in stage. I would say that this is the best small-screen realization of a Ring opera I have seen.’
International Record Review
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CAT NO: OA0910D
FORMAT: All Formats
REGIONS: All Regions
PICTURE FORMAT: 16:9
LENGTH: 161 MINS
SOUND: DOLBY SURROUND / LPCM STEREO
NO OF DISCS: 2
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