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Der Ring Des Nibelungen [Import]

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Product Details

  • Format: Classical, NTSC, Import
  • Language: German
  • Subtitles: English, German, French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 8
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: C Major
  • Release Date: Nov. 16 2010
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
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Product Description

Anello Del Nibelungo (L') / Der Ring Des Nibelungen (8 Dvd)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9ce989e4) out of 5 stars 9 reviews
45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ccbc4b0) out of 5 stars A bel canto Ring Nov. 30 2010
By Richard - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
There's a puzzle here and it is primarily Zubin Mehta. You would expect a fast,rousing performance from him. Yet that's not what we get. What we get is something quite different. I first noticed it in Rheingold where Mime sings about life in the past. Mehta seems to be highlighting this as a little aria in itself. But then in Walkure he allows Seiffert (Siegmund) to hold "Walse" an incredibly long time. The love duet has rubato all over the place. And throughout the cycle when there is an opportunity the singer will milk the high note for all it's worth. Even the unwritten hold in Brunnhilde's lament in Act 3 of Walkure which used to be regularly done, but has disappeared as singers and conductors hewed to the score, is here restored.
Then there are those songs spread thorughout the score. Mehta has highlighted passages which now reveal themselves as old fashioned arias and duets. Consider Siegfried: there's Siegfried's song to freedom, the forging song, the duet between Mime and Alberich in Act 2, and, of course, the love duet. As GB Shaw pointed out by the time we hit Gotterdammerung we are back in the arms of Grand Opera.
So what gives? Where other conductors focus upon music drama, Mehta highlights all the musical forms embedded in the score. Then it hit me. These guys are playing the Ring as if it were bel canto - beautiful singing first, drama second.
What's more they are staging and playing the Ring as opera seria - that form of opera popular in the baroque. Opera seria starts with a mythical plot (gods and demons) and tells the story through recitative and arias. The opera is a string of arias held together by recitative. Opera developed from this form into the opera we know today with heightened drama and arias, duets, trios , etc. Could this be the Ring as opera seria?
Well, look at the staging. The scenery in this Ring is spectacular. You have never seen a Ring like it. Opera seria also provided wonderful scenery. It also would include a deus ex machine - a god appearing with the help of a machine. And, lo and behold, in this Ring all the gods are ex machine. They sing from their perches high above the stage in cherry pickers. These people are saying that when Wagner invented his new music drama he was really going back to the early days of opera seria. For me, Mehta has made his case. I will hear the Ring differently from now on.
But what kind of experience does this give us? For one thing it does make beautiful singing the goal. But at what price drama? All these gods flitting around emphasizes the four groups of inhabitants of this world - gods, giants, dwarfs and humans. But there can be little interaction from people trapped in a machine. All the poor gods can do in their getups is stand and deliver. And that is just what opera seria was about.
I was growing uneasy with what I thought was Mehta's lack of drama, especially in Walkure. I approached Siegfried with some trepidation. But then Lance Ryan (Siegfried) came on stage and I gasped - he actually looks the part - young, handsome, athletic. But when he began to sing I was even more blown away. He could sing it, not adequately, but the best I've ever heard. I couldn't wait for the forging scene and that love duet. For him alone this Ring must be recommended. The other two main characters: Uusitalo (Wotan) and Wilson (Brunnhilde) are also singers rather than barkers. And what a joy to have Matti Salmonen as Fasolt, Hunding and Hagen. He is magnificent in both voice and acting.
There are two great drawbacks to this Ring, however. The costumes are downright ugly. And they create ugly people. Everyone except Brunnhilde is having the worst bad hair day in history. But then the Walkure costume has a helmet that resembles a horse's bridle. Echhh! She has a horse; she is not a horse. Besides the costumes are so heavy and bulky it is hard to really act. Again the characters are forced to stand and deliver.
And finally the video. Erich Korngold once said of movie music that it must be so good that the audience is unaware of it. It should not call attention to itself. The same could be said for video direction. The major gaff occurs at the beginning of Rheingold. First we are looking at an image of a bouncing red ball. But then we cut from the ball to the orchestra. And so throughout the prelude we bounce back from stage to pit. At Bayreuth Wagner covered the orchestra. It is heard and not seen. But our director here jumps into the orchestra pit given half the chance.
There is a real mess at the end of scene 3 of Rheingold. When Wotan and Loge go to seize Alberich we cut from the stage to the pit. What's that about? Was there some trouble with the staging? Was it just sheer stupidity? For a production like this you would think they could do a retake to get it right. Not so.
Throughout the cycle the camera is always jumping from shot to shot. It can be quite distracting. And there are not a lot of closeups. But then again given the lack of acting that may not be a problem.
So should you get this Ring? Yes,for Ryan and the other singers. Or wait for him in another production. He is young and still has to perfect his performance. His "Gotterdammerung" Siegfried is not quite up to the "Siegfried". Yes,for the production. But that's qualified by ugly costumes and stupid video direction. Definitely, this should not be a first
Ring. And it won't be a Ring to which I will return except to see and hear that glorious Siegfried. To see the real drama of the Ring watch Kupher/Barenboim or Chereau/Boulez. For a stunning re-interpretation watch the Copenhagen Ring.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ccbc6fc) out of 5 stars Reposted from Superconductor: "Battle for the Radioactive Donut" April 25 2011
By Paul Pelkonen - Published on
Format: DVD
This 2009 release of the complete Ring, filmed in 2008 in Valencia, Spain under the baton of Zubin Mehta is a compelling, visually arresting, and best of all, well-sung version of Wagner's mythological cycle. It should appeal to Wagnerians who want to hear the next generation of singers, and those curious opera-lovers who want to see what a modern Ring looks like.

This is not a traditional production. It incorporates dance, machinery, and digital projections. These last look fantastic on DVD: a centerpiece of this hyper-visual staging. But behind all the flash and java is a solid retelling of the myths, steered by Mr. Mehta's steady hand in the pit and Carlus Padrissa's innovative (but not intrusive) directorial ideas.

La Fura del Bas is a Catalan theater troupe: kind of an Iberian answer to Cirque de Soleil. Here, their dancers serve as scenery, props, and even buildings, combining to form the gates of Valhalla in an astonishing image that ends Das Rheingold. The other key element of La Fura's staging is a set of eight digital projection monitors, that serve as the mountains, the Rhine river, and the flames as Götterdämmerung blazes to a close.

The digital projections (by visual artist Franc Aleu) serve as visual reminders throughout the cycle, accompanying Wagner's leitmotiv system of musical memory triggers. Mr. Aleu also incorporates cyberpunk concepts in this Ring. For example, Nibelheim (reached through the caldera of Mount Etna) is depicted as a complex, ever-spinning machine. The sword is a three-dimensional electronic idea, floating in cyberspace before it actually appears in the hand.

The Gibichungs appear as tattooed yakuza gangsters out of a William Gibson novel, more interested in the stock market than the affairs of Gods and Valkyries. Siegfried himself (Lance Ryan) is a grotty club kid with dreads, wolf skins and tattoos before the Gibichungs clean him up and get him a nice suit. Most disturbing is Hagen's call to the vassals: the mention of animal sacrifices to the Gods triggers an ocean of blood that would have pleased Stanley Kubrick.

But it's not all hi-tech. The Rhinemaidens appear in suspended glass aquarium tanks, big enough to swim in with real water. They "birth" a collection of golden fish-eggs, which Alberich collects and steals to forge the Ring. The Ring itself looks like the product of Homer Simpson's attempt to make donuts in the reactor core. Brunnhilde's magic fire is a group of dancers with torches. Wotan is accompanied by a "forest" of dancers armed with long porcupine-like quills. And Siegfried's corpse is carried out--through the theater itself.

Musically, this is a pretty solid cycle, with a mix of young singers and cagey veterans. Lance Ryan stands at the forefront, a steady Siegfried with a generally pleasing tenor that never shrieks or struggles. Jennifer Wilson is a formidable Brunnhilde, with a voice to match her imposing stage presence. She delivers her best performance in the second act of Götterdämmerung, making hay in the Vengeance Trio.

Peter Seiffert brings his veteran tenor to Siegmund, and Petra Maria Schnitzer is an ardent Sieglinde. Gerhard Siegel is an exceptional Mime. Juha Uusitalo dives headlong into Wotan, using his big Finnish bass to good effect as the King of the Gods. With his low range and dark tinge, he gets better as the cycle goes on, rising to a mighty climax with "Wache, Wala!" in the last act of Siegfried.

It may help Mr. Uusitalo's performance that he shares the stage with Matti Salminen, the king of Finnish basses. Mr. Salminen is in all four operas, playing Fafner, Hunding and Hagen over the course of the cycle. Mr. Salminen's huge instrument may have lost some of its luster, and he sings with some vibrato. But he can still pour on the power and rich black tone, and nobody in the operatic world looks as evil--even when he's just sitting there.
22 of 31 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ccbc93c) out of 5 stars Approach with caution Feb. 9 2011
By J. Oleary - Published on
Format: DVD
The idea of using CG effects and acrobats in this Ring is great. Unfortunately the effects mostly are just a distraction, having nothing to do with the music, and the great moments of the score usually go for nothing.

Mehta's conducting is good. Indeed it's the best part of this Ring. The singing ranges from passable to execrable. One can hardly blame the singers, however, as they have to deal with the most ghastly, ludicrous costuming I've ever seen. This aspect of the production is nothing short of disgraceful.

My strongest criticism, however, goes to the vision editor of the DVDs. The lengthiest shot might last for about 4 seconds, and the constant cutting back and forth is infuriating.

A great opportunity, largely wasted.
HASH(0x9ccbcbb8) out of 5 stars Glittering Jan. 28 2016
By Todd Kay - Published on
Format: DVD
To begin, some personnel information about the individual entries:

Juha Uusitalo (Wotan), Franz-Josef Kapellmann (Alberich), John Daszak (Loge), Gerhard Siegel (Mime), Matti Salminen (Fasolt), Stephen Milling (Fafner) Sabina von Walter (Freia), Anna Larsson (Fricka), Christa Mayer (Erda), German Villar (Froh), Ilya Bannik (Donner)

Peter Seiffert (Siegmund), Petra Maria Schnitzer (Sieglinde), Matti Salminen (Hunding), Jennifer Wilson (Brünnhilde), Juha Uusitalo (Wotan), Anna Larsson (Fricka)

Lance Ryan (Siegfried), Jennifer Wilson (Brünnhilde), Gerhard Siegel (Mime), Juha Uusitalo (Der Wanderer), Franz-Josef Kapellmann (Alberich), Stephen Milling (Fafner), Catherine Wyn-Rogers (Erda), Marina Zyatkova (Waldvogel)

Lance Ryan (Siegfried), Jennifer Wilson (Brünnhilde), Matti Salminen (Hagen), Ralf Lukas (Gunther), Franz-Josef Kapellmann (Alberich), Elisabete Matos (Gutrune), Catherine Wyn-Rogers (Waltraute)

Cor de la Generalitat Valenciana/Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana
Conductor: Zubin Mehta; Production: La Fura dels Baus, stage director Carlus Padrissa

Each of the four operas gets an extra feature on its DVD. We mostly hear from members of the production team, but also from the conductor, some of the singers, and intendant Helga Schmidt in the happy days before her legal difficulties. These extras yield little surprising information and are repetitious, with a lot of the same interview footage reused. I heard twice, for example, Zubin Mehta's story of the first time he heard the RING performed, and how he had been working toward conducting it ever since. The most interesting fact I got out of a cumulative two hours of extras was from the stage director: this was the first integral RING to be performed in Spain. The fledgling Valencia organization, with its striking Calatrava-designed theater, did within its first five years of existence what its older siblings, the Teatro Real and the Gran Liceu Barcelona, never had done. This RING was initially staged between 2007 and 2009, and Valencia's first opera production had been only one year earlier, a 2006 FIDELIO (also with Mehta, also on DVD).

The hard work that Zubin Mehta and this (figuratively and literally) young orchestra put into the preparation is evident in the sound they make together. That is the highest tribute that can be paid Mehta here -- it is very impressive music-making just at the level of the sound, for a group that hadn't been playing anything together for very long and was undertaking its first complete RING. Mehta is an unusual conductor in that he prefers a placement of the basses in the center of the orchestra pit rather than to one side. Even with the mediation of microphones for a recording, this placement affects the balances and gives an audible result of greater weightiness and depth, with more clarity at the bottom but also at the top (as the basses' usual neighbors are not sharing space with them). So, it all *sounds* wonderful. Such reservations as I have on the orchestral level are about the way it moves, or doesn't.

The elements of this cycle, musical and theatrical, only come into proper balance at the halfway point. RHEINGOLD is by far the weakest link. Mehta throughout the cycle is even pokier than James Levine on the Met's 1989-90 video cycle. He's a little slower than Levine in every opera except the last, where they are almost identical. This very deliberate approach hurts the continuity of RHEINGOLD most of all, and scenes droop terribly there. Minutes ticked by and I found myself thinking, "We're still on this?" SIEGFRIED and GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG are more accommodating of the monumentalized, "grand" approach Mehta wants to take to the whole thing. I have a good idea of what Mehta's influences are in this music, and I expect they're the same as Levine's. But I don't think either Levine or Mehta has the gift for keeping Wagner's music buoyant over very slow expanses. Knappertsbusch had that gift, and others of his generation did.

MVP of La Fura dels Baus's production team is Franc Aleu, whose video productions would merit a thousand words all by themselves. They are innovative and beautiful, in richly saturated colors, and they range from extremely realistic (snow-covered mountains as Wotan seeks out Erda) to abstract and suggestive. But they always draw the eye. Several times, I was struck by the realization that for all the visual stimulation going on, I was really looking at a nearly empty stage, which could be cleared with economy. There are few props. What isn't handled by the projections is handled by the acrobatic troupe, who are called on to embody everything from Valhalla's gate, to the stacks of gold, to grass by a river, to Brünnhilde's bed cover (I'm not kidding).

The eye is especially grateful for the work of Aleu and the acrobatic troupe, as Chu Uroz's parodic costumes flatter no member of this cast. Hunding and the Wälsungs (both the parents and their child, before the Gibichungs give Siegfried a makeover) get the worst of it. They sport the dreadlocks, tribal tattoos, and ratty animal skins that were all over opera stagings in the aughts as shorthand for either "primitive" or "post-apocalyptic." But almost everyone is wearing something exaggerated and ugly, even the gods.

Like the conducting, the stage direction improves halfway through the cycle -- which is to say there is more evidence that some was happening. The gods in the earlier installments are strapped into wheeled cages on cranes, so the singers are several meters above the stage and standing on narrow platforms. This restricts the blocking to a sort of "balance and deliver," and singers cannot get very close to each other. The giants in RHEINGOLD are encased in huge metal exoskeletons and look like Transformers, and Milling can barely graze Salminen with his metal arm in order to administer what we have to accept as the "death blow." Once the gods are, for the most part, out of the picture, the direction gets more dynamic, and I like a lot of the choices in the final two installments.

Carlus Padrissa's ideas about Wagner's work seem closest to Harry Kupfer's, of the others I have seen. Like the humans in the Kupfer cycle, the ones here go from primitive to more civilized, and the surroundings change with them. As mentioned above, the Gibichungs give Siegfried a makeover, putting him in a modern suit and giving him a haircut, as if taming Tarzan, and we have the sense that our hero is getting further away from himself and his roots. This fits with the overall concept throughout the RING of nature being violated.

I won't get into everything I found well directed, but I liked that the Gunther/Siegfried bond is taken very seriously here. When Siegfried's memory returns to him, he seems truly sorrowful and he runs to Gunther for comfort and, perhaps, forgiveness. Gunther frantically motions to Hagen as if trying to call off the spear in the back, but of course it's too late. The Wotan/Erda scene one opera earlier is interestingly done too (Erda really *reacts* this time to what she hears, rather than seeming glazed over), and so is the always-ugly scene with the disguised Siegfried's conquest of Brünnhilde. She remains feisty and resentful to the last.

The cast members range from very good to acceptable. If you saw this RING live in 2007-09, at the Met or Bayreuth or anywhere, you'd go away happy. Wilson's Brünnhilde is one of the most powerfully sung on DVD; hers is a kind of voice you just don't hear much anymore. Everyone with whom she shares significant stage time sounds to be giving away vocal size to her. Some viewers have claimed Wilson is stolid and apathetic on stage, but I think they're letting her size (and her very unflattering and limiting costumes) influence them. I see real joy in performing from her, and even a hint of sexiness when Brünnhilde and Siegfried approach each other to do the deed during the playout of SIEGFRIED's final duet.

Ryan's Siegfried is promising. He has a fresh and young sound and he's appealing to hear and watch, but he sounds worryingly light and monochromatic to me, and his interpretation is still in early days. Uusitalo's Wotan is handsomely sung, not the most profound or mercurial. The Wälsungs, a real husband-and-wife pair, give deeply felt performances that make up for some vocal wear and tear.

Larsson is just about perfect as Fricka; she doesn't yield much to any of the more famous ones I've heard. Kapellmann gets by as Alberich more on knowhow than on his now-frayed voice, but his "brother," Siegel, is again a first-class Mime. Both giants, Milling and Salminen, are excellent, and the latter's old-pro triple act (extending to his familiar roles of Hunding and Hagen) comes off much better than I was expecting. He's a real asset here. It is a shame Mayer's RHEINGOLD Erda was not retained. Wyn-Rogers acts the longer version in SIEGFRIED sensitively but sounds vocally out of her comfort zone. Matos, a dramatic soprano who shortly thereafter would wow Met audiences as Minnie, is amusingly "underparted" as Gutrune. She sounds more capable of throwing down with this Brünnhilde than anyone else in the cycle, and her attempts to scale down a big sound for Gutrune's wispier lines are uneasy.

This does not challenge the classic Kupfer/Barenboim and Chéreau/Boulez Bayreuth video cycles among my favorites, but it gets better as it goes along, it's very impressive to look at, and it has things I will be glad to revisit. I would recommend it if someone wants a razzle-dazzle visual-splendor RING (on that level, it obliterates the Met's 2010-12 creaking cash sink) and is interested in the singers of its major roles.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ccbceac) out of 5 stars Worth every dollar. Nov. 21 2013
By Alessandro Baldi - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Fantastic production. The stage is an explosion of ideas and the Ring is "there", explained and told like a "Star wars" saga. Metha is providing a clear, limpid lecture of the score and the opera flows smoothly. Strongly recommended.

For some reason only Sigfried and Rheingold are compatible with my Mac, and they show code 0 whereas Gotterdammerung and Walkure show code 6. Very annoying as I had to borrow a DVD player to see the entire cycle. May be a packaging issue.