Der Ring Des Nibelungen [Import]
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100 minutes of the most stunning visual and musical highlights of this production by La Fura dels Baus, including bonus material of two new documentaries about Franc Aleu and Carlus Padrissa. The highlights include arias of the world-class Wagner singers such as Seiffert, Salminen, Kapellmann, Mayer, Schnitzer and promising young talents like Jennifer Wilson (Brünnhilde), John Daszak (Loge) and Juha Uusitalo (Wotan).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
If you're looking for a traditional version of Wagner's Ring of the Nibelungen, this is not the place to start.
Here is some of what you will see in this DVD sampler of Wagner's Ring:
Rhinemaidens in transparent water tanks
Wotan and the Valkyries appearing suspended in space, flying around as they sing (They're on sort of hydraulic lifts that resemble forklifts with cage-like platforms on cranes.)
Spheres or globes of bodies swinging like a pendulum
Loge flying around the stage on a segway
Siegfried's Rhine journey in a stylized silvery boat, passing mountains in the background, and with water in the foreground
Erda, the Earth Mother, appearing to float in air, with a rotating globe of the earth spinning behind her
Strange as these descriptions sound, they seem to work to give the audience the perspective of eternity and universality--not just dated in some early Teutonic time period. Just as Wagner tried new approaches at all levels of theater, the "La Fura dels Baus" stage directors have broken new ground in this really new production of the Ring.
Zubin Mehta conducts the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana in a fine rendering of Wagner's gorgeous music that will bring tears to the eyes of involved Wagner devotees.
The "extras" section discusses how the stage director "paints" the scenery using computer-controlled projected picture screens on stage. The Blu-Ray picture quality and sound are excellent. My wife says the dogs were frightened by some of the floor-thumping sounds.
It is a really unique production, and I think it's wonderful that a DVD is offered as highlights to allow buyers to preview this approach before investing in the complete Ring. To be honest, I wasn't sure I'd like such a novel approach, but they won me over. This is the way to make up your own mind.
I was impressed with the lighting and video effects throughout, and overall, the singing and acting are of consistently high quality as well. There are some costumes that I didn't like at first, but having watched it several times now, I'm getting used to them. I don't mind that they mixed styles ranging from a Flintstone-style bone bodice for Sieglinde, to a futuristic belt that looks like something out of Kubrick's 2001 for Wotan, but some of the choices are just weird. It also took me a while to get used to seeing singers hoisted aloft on hydraulic lifts, but again, it's just a new way of seeing things. I had been a little apprehensive about the acrobats, but they sort of blend in with the rest of the action and I didn't find them at all distracting.
The high point for me was the way the videos and the lighting were so brilliantly used to underscore the music. This Ring is so visually appealing that I'm willing to forgive a few unfortunate costume choices as well as a couple singers who are truly Wagnerian in size. For the price, it's a great way to get a good look at this production and decide if you'll want to invest in the entire set. I'll probably be ordering it after I've watched this a few more times to see how it holds up over time, but so far, it keeps getting better.
Edit: After watching this at least 5 times (yes, it's that good), I ordered the entire set (at a great discount from another retailer, sorry Amazon). Any reservations I had about costumes, large-scale singers, and the hydraulic lifts have disappeared with repeated viewings. The production values, the musical performances, and the Blu-Ray's outstanding video and audio quality won me over and make this set indispensable.
I forgot to mention in my original review that the subtitles are done really well, too. They are clearly visible, but they don't intrude too much on the image. It looks as if they used a narrower font size than the Levine/MET production. Also, this sampler disc includes two features about the stage director and the video creator. Both features are very well done and help the viewer to understand the concept behind this production. Both are presented in HD. At this price, I can highly recommend this disc to anyone remotely interested in the Ring or this production. Just give it a chance and let it grow on you!
This is the perfect material to ease into an operatic experience.
With a price point of $9.99, I purchased the Bluray disc with mediocre expectations, expecting mere "highlights" (as the name suggested) as in short samplers that end just when you begin to enjoy a piece. But I was completely caught by pleasant surprise with this one. The recording (both sound and high-definition visuals) of the highest quality as tested on my big screen HDTV using a 7.1 channel home theater system. The pieces were actually long enough that I enjoyed them thoroughly.
While it would be naive to generalize this for all opera recordings, there is a certain unique quality about this specific production of "Der Ring Des Nibelungen ", especially the use of high-tech props and projections that actually create the illusion that you might actually be watching a 3-D film. Even if you aren't a great fan of high-pitched sopranos and tenors, you will be blown away by the mindblowing visual experience.
Wholeheartedly recommend this product to any serious lover of the arts.
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