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  • Wagner;Richard Gotterdammerung [Blu-ray] [Import]
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Wagner;Richard Gotterdammerung [Blu-ray] [Import]

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Amazon.com: 11 reviews
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
An incredible experience March 8 2010
By Earl G. Bean - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I just finished watching this entire cycle and wanted to review Gotterdammerung first. A few comments about the cycle as a whole to begin: This is the most consistently sung, marvelously played, conducted, and beautifully produced cycle I have ever seen! I am a big fan of the Copenhagen Ring, a devout disciple of the Bayreuth/Chereau Cycle, and, yes, even an admirer of the ultra-traditional Met staging. This cycle, as a whole, blows all of the competition out of the water.

Across all four operas the filming is well done and the Blu-ray imaging is wonderful. The sound, as heard on my Boston Acoustics surround system, is very realistic and detailed with the orchestra in front of the singers. There is no spotlighting of the voices and one hears a realistic opera house sound. This is very important since Zubin Mehta draws powerful, passionate, and incredibly accurate playing from the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valencia. This is no small feat since, as a former orchestral musician, I can attest to the extreme difficulty of these scores. The orchestra plays this music as if it is in their blood. All the more amazing if one considers that this is a brand new ensemble made up of players who appear to be mostly very young. Of course, Mehta is an old hand in the pit. His interpretation is sweeping and dramatic.

Gotterdammerung clocks in at about 4 hours and 30 minutes. It always seems just right. The brass playing is spot-on with special mention going to the horn section and individual horn players who perform the various horn calls with a tremendously brassy tone. No mellow horns here! The wind section is amazing...especially the great clarinet duet at the beginning of Act One, Scene Three: beautifully phrased. The orchestra always plays in tune, even the first E-flat minor chord that opens the piece, often a tragedy even in good cycles, is right on pitch. There is never any scrappy ensemble in this performance.

The singers are all top notch. The Norns are appropriately mournful, the Rhine Maidens are sexy and sound great, and the fabulous Waltraute of Catherine Wyn-Rogers is menacing instead of resigned. What a voice. The Cor de la Generalitat Valencia is powerful and well-disciplined. The summoning of the Vassals (in Act Two) is quite an aural experience. I was a little disappointed that the horn calls (on trombones) for this scene weren't more primitive and overbearing.

The Gunther of Ralf Lukas is well sung. He plays Gunther as a real whimp, which is appropriate for this production. Ultimately, he is a helpless and sympathetic character. The Gibich clan inhabits a modern, technological, money obsessed, polluted world, that is a far cry from the rough and tumble, wilderness retreat of Siegfried and Brunnhilde. One moment of humor occurs when Gunther reacts to the smell of Siegfried (who probably hasn't bathed in years). I enjoyed the trash in the Rhine River as Siegfried approached the Gibich Hall. By the way, there is a boat and it does go up river. Well done. Gutrune is a modern woman who seems obsessed with staying in shape and looking just right. Elisabete Matos sings and acts well.

Hagen is portrayed by the incomparable Matti Salminen. He looks and sounds terrifying. He is the Hagen of our day. I can't imagine anyone else in the role. He is impassive and yet he manipulates the action that leads up to Siegfried's death with the accuracy of a surgeon. His acting is never less than very good. His huge voice always comes over the orchestra with ease. When he calls the Vassals it is a hair-raising experience. The terrible, brooding night watch scene is Act Two brought a tingle to my spine. Alberich, who has aged horribly, floats in above Hagen's head. Truly frightening.

The Siegfried of Lance Ryan is amazing from a vocal standpoint. He never sounds tired and always looks heroic and handsome. Listen to that "high C" in Act Three, Scene Two...solid as a rock. No strain at all. He is a natural Heldentenor. He plays Siegfried as a simpleton; an immature teenager. I thought some of his acting was a bit much (he plays to the audience several times) but it was consistent with his interpretation. The scene with the Rhinemaidens is, for once, truly funny (and looks great). The scene leading up to his death is sung with perfect musicality and his death is truly touching. The funeral march, played to perfection, is especially moving as the Vassals carry Siegfried's body off of the stage and into the hall.

The highlight of this production is the AMAZING Brunnhilde of Jennifer Wilson. Her voice is powerful across a wide range and her high notes have razor sharp precision. There is never a wobble of any sort in her voice. Her voice just never flags. She is an excellent actress. Her Brunnhilde is not a perpetual victim. Her valedictory performance of the Immolation Scene is the crowning jewel in an impeccable interpretation. She will be the Brunnhilde of our age.

The production is a feast for the eyes and the ears. Realistic fire and water, shifting colors that project the inner world of the characters, and costumes that powerfully illustrate the clashing worlds of this story. I have never, never, never seen the final scene done as well...incredibly moving. Vahalla literally comes apart amid the flames. The multi-media projections are always used to grand effect. This production, though very modern, never does violence to Wagner's conception. A must see and hear for all Wagnerites. DON'T MISS THIS!
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
stupendous wagner March 3 2010
By Ivor E. Zetler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray
I am a Wagner fan of long standing; I have attended Bayreuth as well as various other international Ring performances. I also have seen most the generally regarded Ring versions on DVD. Excluding the less impressive Valencia Siegfried, my conclusion is that the Rheingold, Walkure and Gotterdammerung performances from this source(as seen on DVD) must stand as my most exciting Wagnerian experience in years.

The performance under discussion sees a continuation of the virtues that I have described in my previous reviews of Rheingold and Walkure. Mehta's conducting is dynamic and his shaping of the musical line is unerring. The singing is generally excellent; Matti Salminen is an appropriately malevolent Hagen and Lance Ryan (a name new to me), while hardly a Melchior or a Windgassen, turns in a solidly sung Siegfried. It is a pleasure to newly encounter a firm voiced heldentenor; this is certainly a rare species in today's vocal firmament. The undoubted star of the show must be Jennifer Wilson's powerful and steely singing in the role of Brunnhilde.

The production in this last opera of the cycle becomes very modern. It is punkish at times and is peppered with humorous and sardonic touches. The filmed projections, somewhat busy but always appropriate, adds tremendously to the visual experience. The amazing final scene is a fitting ending to wondrous production. The busy realisation of the action might not appeal to those that like their Wagner in the style of old. It is worth noting that a friend,who is a great Wagner buff, found the business on the stage during the live performance quite distracting. I think that the filmic production on the DVD version might be an improvement.

I generally have an antipathy towards "modern" productions but here I feel that everything works. Compared to the oft lauded Copenhagen Ring (which is less well sung, conducted, produced and filmed to my mind), the Valencia Ring is a far superior experience visually and musically.

The quality of the sound and filming are excellent. If you watch this on a good home theatre system the experience should be sensational. Bravissimo.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
An end of the Gods to end them all! May 8 2010
By John Chandler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I was doubtful about this before watching, how on earth could these Spaniards, with no significant Wagner history, keep it up. I had had reservations over the visual casting of Brünnhilde in both Walküre and Siegfried and just felt this last gigantic conclusion might prove a bit too much. I need not have worried! In fact Brünnhilde was one of the two highlights of the event. Her mighty physique and non nubile appearance may have been of some concern in the earlier parts but not here. As a weary and worldly wise Walkyrie preparing for the doom laden inferno her power and gutsy determination to see it through was an asset. Her scene with the equally aging Waltraute was magnificent. Two over the hill maidens perhaps but they were NOT going to be outdone by Hagen! The other tour de force was Matti Salminen as the evil Hagen. His scene with Alberich was particularly well done. The Rhein daughters were their ever sexy selves and the rest of the cast were all up to the mark.

I did not care very much for the stockbroker suits of the Gibichungs although Hagen's make-up was particularly stunning. More like a Yakuza gangster or an up to no good Oyakata than a Shanghai stockbroker in my view! The special effects were similar in style to the earlier dramas and even if they could not quite match the jaw-dropping impression made by Rheingold they were still pretty good. Again I felt the orchestra and Mehta struggled to deliver that last punch but aided by a splendid recording they were more than adequate. I did not care for the way Siegfied's funeral march was handled - too much of Mehta - but that is just a personal view.

As a set this Ring is remarkable and the bar has been lifted to unforseen heights for any future Blu-ray Rings. I watched this Götterdämmerung straight through, something I have never done before and felt very satisfied at the end. Overall this is by far the best overall Ring set on video disc and can be highly reccommended. If only Blu-ray had been around when Solti did his Ring and just think what Wagner would have demanded!
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
The Curates Egg July 28 2010
By R. C. Lindner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Well I cant fault the sound, the orchestra, the lead singers, and the conducting. All excellent but I still prefer the Furtwangler to the Solti version....and the Karajan to this. The old Suthaus/Flagstad/Furtwangler version is how Wagner should be interpreted.

However, no-one should take the staging or the plot for this as other than silly. I know that we are supposed to be, Oh, so refined to see deep underlying philosophical meaning to Der KunstWerke but personally I think it is total nonsense. And the staging on this DVD version illustrates this taken to an absurd extreme. It is impossible to take it seriously, and it justly merits the derision of my teenage children as to what on earth is Dad watching. It is Circe Soleil or worse.....floating around on trapezes against TV background images.

I would much prefer the boring traditional staging. If Wagner had depended on the music drama for anything other than the music itself, he would have disappeared into obscurity long ago. Dont get this for the Blu Ray (picture quality excellent) but the best advice is to turn off the visuals and just listen to the sound.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Worthy conclusion of brilliant, thought provoking Ring. March 25 2010
By dongiovanni - Published on Amazon.com
Format: DVD
Similar, but not identical review is published on The Wholenote Magazine website, [...] (by myself) and under Copyright The WholeNote media 2010.

The last, cataclysmic installment of Wagner's monumental Ring from Weimar is very much a vision of the director, Michael Schultz. His strong philosophy is most manifest here where his pessimistic views are aided by the apocalyptic story. "There are tears in the world/as though God had died..." The grief is never ending.

To the cruelty and murder so prevalent in the drama the director adds his own issues: cruelty to women and even to defenseless animals. The 2nd act turns into a pandemonium of mass rape by the Gibichung thugs (reminding us of British soccer hooligans). Brunnhilde's horse, Grane is portrayed by a wonderful pantomime actress with flowing white hair much abused throughout by Hagen and the adolescents also added to the production. The Director believes that children of the world are cast out, helpless therefore alienated and aggressive. They witness all major turn of events but unable to participate and move around in curiosity, with blood-stained hands.

Difficult to describe this theatrical experience with words, one really has to see how powerfully it's handled by sparse visual means. . Stage background is black throughout; there are virtually no sets and lighting pays a prominent role. So memorable to see Siegfried tenderly mourned by Grane, the long suffering horse and at the final scene water is cascading from above over the abused women, who are reborn & cleansed by Brunnhilde's self sacrifice and redemption. I recommend for anyone to read the very intelligent and detailed program notes where Schultz explains his viewpoint for the production.

Young American conductor, St. Clair keeps tight control and never lets the tension sag . The cast is very strong. Renatus Meszar as Hagen, is a formidable presence and even more formidable voice .English Soprano Catherine Foster easily conquers the endurance test of Brunnhilde's role.(It's interesting to note that she started out her career as a nurse in Birmingham!) Siegfried, Norbert Schmittberg, is treated as vulnerable, somewhat naïve plaything for the evil Gibichungs, a fine choice for not being the typical beefcake Wagner tenor. Gunther, portrayed as weak and somewhat tragicomical, sung and acted wonderfully by Mario Hoff.
Great theatre, a moving production that will give you food for thought. .