Let's face facts, so-called "modern" productions of Wagner's epic Ring Cycle will undoubtedly polarise opinion, many people will love it and just as many will loathe it.
I have always felt that the met's classic video/dvd cycle was a benchmark in productions as, for the most part, it was very traditionally staged and sung to near perfection.
However I was priveleged to sing in the chorus of The Ring in Adelaide in 2004 and that was aa mind-blowing production (I saw the other three operas as well). It made me realised that it is possible for a production of the Ring to be non-traditional yet still entertaining.
The Wotan in that production is the same one on this dvd- John Brocheler. He leads a wonderful ensemble that sings with as much gusto and clarity as any other troupe. Across the board, the cast is vocally very strong.
The orchestra is tight and well conducted and the performance sizzles with a real energy.
Te set encompasses the orchestra so the music is as much a part of the drama as the players. The set is very striking and very versatile.
Of course Rheingold depends upon effects and many seasoned Wagnerians will be curious to see the many effects needed for this one- especially the Dragon and Frog transformations in scene 3 and the bridge to valhalla. All of these are done very effectively.
My only gripe is the costuming. The actual clothes are fine but the wigs are positively hideous (especially the giants who look a little like giant male genitalia). It is very distracting and is the reason this dvd gets 4 stars instead of 5.
I will be getting the remainder of this cycle over time and can't wait to see what else lies in store from this wonderful production.