Die Walkure the most accessible of the Ring cycle is vocally somewhat of a mixed bag in this newest installment. Matti Salimen is amazing here as Hunding, a singer in this sixth decade, but sounding years younger; He is extraordinary. His body makeup speaks of a more primitive age--almost prehistoric. Sieglinde, Petra Maria Schnitzer is adequate vocally, some of the time. She does not trump some of the great Sieglindes from the past (think Borkh, Resnick, Lehmann) and beginning with her great monolgue, Die manne suppe there is a lack of initensity and eventually radiance. Even Altmeyer in the Boulez set brings a more stunning radiance and sense of drama. I have mixed feelings about Sieffert's Siegmund. Initially his voice is not under complete control evincing a wobble from time to time. Even so it can occur when you least expect it. His barrel chested weight has been masked superficially with the costume. This is most fortunate.
Act II introduces us to Jennifer Wilson, Brunhilde. If I recall correctly, she deputized for Jane Eaglen in a Chicago Ring series several years ago. The comments on the web were enthusiastic and one would have though that her name would pop up long before this Ring cycle appeared. Bayreuth has probably not called because the singer is large, though hardly in the Eaglen sense of the word. But the sound is gleaming and her high C's spot on and secure. Where she is weakest is the Annunciation Scene which lies in the middle of the voice; weakness is used here as a relative term. I only wish that she had been costumed more attractively. She is fitted out with a "breast plate" that covers her from waist to neck--we are back in pre-war productions with only the helmet with wings missing. Wieland dispensed this this, choosing garments that recalled Greek mythology. They certainly flattered the singer. It is unlikely, though, that Bayreuth will ever call upon Wilson's talent: it is their loss.
Uusitalo's Act II monologue is superbly sung, again relishing the text in a manner almost redolent of a Lieder singer. Again I find he voice somewhat light, but he does compensate for it with great artistry. Larsson has no equal on DVD as Fricka. Not only is she quite beautiful, she sings with great artistry and matchees her Wotan's textual inflections.
As in the Rheingold, the production is exciting with images that change with great fluidity and meaning. This may disturb those who want a more conventional Ring but all of what is happening in the Ring is happening in the orchestra and the images seen on stage reflect this. Again as in Rheingold the singers are moved by the use of cranes, though not I hasten to add, Sieglinde and Siegmund, but only the Gods. Stage technicians play a very large role in this conception and again their presence will irritate those who feel their role should not be seen during the action. My own feelings are mixed but I feel compelled to rewatch this DVD for its many virtures and perhaps change those feelings which ar present my be equivocal.