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Pierre Audi's production remains boldly modern, but more respectful of Wagner's conception than most these days. Haenchen's conducting, inspired by the latest research is still briskly dramatic…... —
Stage Director Pierre Audi Heinz Kruse, Wolfgang Schöne, Henk Smit, Kurt Rydl, Jeannine Altmeyer, Eva-Maria Bundschuh, Anne Gjevang, Hebe Dijkstra, Irmgard Vifsmaier, Kirsi Tiihonen, Gabriele Fontana, Hanna Schaer & Catherine Keen Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra Hartmut Haenchen
PICTURE FORMAT: 16:9
LENGTH: 269 Mins
SOUND: DTS SURROUND / LPCM STEREO
Pierre Audi's production remains boldly modern, but more respectful of Wagner's conception than most these days. Haenchen's conducting, inspired by the latest research is still briskly dramatic… the most dramatically valid recent Ring cycle on DVD.
The Pierre Audi Amsterdam Ring wholly justifies Opus Arte's decision to follow up so soon its uneven Harry Kupfer/Barcelona cycle. Audi and designer George Tsypin work with a varying series of thrillingly lit (Wolfgang Goebbel) acting areas, Hartmut Haenchen's orchestra(s) constantly visible in a manner reminiscent of Baroque theatre. There may be reservations about Haenchen's straight, low-profile interpretation of the music (given in the new critical edition, here featuring colourful percussion and sound effects, and some new brass pitches at the opening of Act 3 of Götterdämmerung), or the harshness of Eiko Ishioka's far from conventionally beautiful Japanese theatrical costumes. But there can surely be few about the freshness of Audi's theatrical thinking, and his reinvention of 'deconstructionist' effects – Fafner as his own mouth; a fierily lit and smoked platform to walk into; or the Wanderer's spear presented for Siegfried to break as a huge, ceiling-high, world ash tree-like totem.
The visible Woodbird (at last, as Wagner wished, taken by a boy) with his white, waif-like cockade of hair is also a moving presence, especially at the violent death of Mime.
Audi has cast and used his singing actors well.
Altmeyer goes from strength to strength, proving how right she was that Brünnhilde was her role. Clark delivers another variation on his widely travelled Mime, now older, more worried, perhaps more frightening. Gjevang, a matchless Erda, then unveils a Waltraute that for textual understanding, projection and sheer intensity you'd have to have on a desert island.
Her Act 1 colleagues in Götterdämmerung – Rydl's neurotic, exhibitionist Hagen and the identical-looking Sebastian/Viola incestuous Gibichungs of Bundschuh and Schöne – provide compulsive acting too. And when Siegfried comes to the rock with the tarnhelm? You'll have to see (and hear!) for yourself.
A black mark, though, to Opus Arte for forgetting (totally) the chorus in Götterdämmerung – viewers intrigued by their Cuprinoladvertisement wooden-puppet look may want to know who they are. The Netherlands Philharmonic lack, in the final pages of Götterdämmerung, the necessary lustrous string tone; in Siegfried, their Rotterdam colleagues are idiomatically magnificent. If you're buying individually, the Audi Götterdämmerung is mandatory.