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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful.
The Robert Lepage Ring Cycle provides a wonderful concept at the Metropolitan Opera.
By Joseph O. Perry
The great German composer Richard Wagner took various Teutonic and Icelandic legends and composed the books, libretti and the music for four towering musical dramas, which he called The Ring of the Nibelungen Cycle. I do not doubt that Wagner heard in his superb musical mind, what the various orchestral and vocal notes, which he wrote, were to sounds like. I am also sure that he could visualize how all this would look on stage. Wagner had a concept in his mind throughout this long process spread over many years, which took to bring forth the Ring cycle. Wagner's score, which contained all the musical, orchestral and vocal parts, however, made no sound. It took over the years of many excellent conductors, instrumentalists and singers to bring Wagner's musical blueprints to life. Each of these musicians also had a concept of what the notes and roles encompassed about. Some performers were obviously much more successful than others in realizing the demands which Wagner had provided.
Many singers over the years have essayed the parts which make up the Ring cycle. There have been many notable performances and unfortunately also a few forget the old ones as well. The latest Metropolitan series involves two notable maestros (James Levine and Fabio Luisi), the wonderful Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, and some of the finest singers in the world today. Levine and Luisi each bring their individual concepts to the score but both re-create the Wagner scores very well. While the onstage vocal performers in this series are going to be compared to some of the outstanding performance concepts of the past, often which of the various performers which we prefer to listen to is dependent on our individual concepts of how to perform and execute each role. All of the singers in the new Met Ring cycle are first rate, and even at the top of this genre in the world today. This is often one of the most lyrically sung Ring Cycles which I have ever heard. Deborah Voigt, Bryn Terfel, Jay Hunter Morris, Jonas Kaufmann, Stephanie Blythe, Eva-Marie Westbroek, Gerhard Siegel, Eric Owens and Hans-Peter Koenig as well as others in the cast are simply fantastic.
The stage image which Wagner envisioned was certainly not possible to achieve during his lifetime. I don't believe he ever saw his concept realized fully during his lifetime. The actual "staging" of an opera production is often far more controversial than singer A or B, or conductor A or B. One. Either accepts and appreciates the director’s concept or does not. Such acceptance or rejection is usually either very strongly for or very strongly against. No production gathers 100% approval or 100% rejection. This is undoubtedly going to be true for Robert Lepage's production as well. I personally find this to be one of the finest and most exciting productions of the Ring Cycle which I have been privileged to see. The "machine" allows a more or less uni-set concept which I feel works very well. The theatrical effects such as achieved in the various lighting, costumes and other creations inherent in the ring, make this a thrilling, modern, but still holding to the traditions of Wagner Ring cycle. I would heartily recommend this eight DVD set to any who would like to experience the Ring cycle in a production which may prove to be the most "state of the art" production available at this time. I cannot imagine the effects the machine provides being overshadowed currently by any means but cinema graphic.
By Dr. Joseph Perry
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful.
By W. Cosby
The Ring is my all-time favorite work. Kudos to the Met for taking on such an enormous project and to deutsche grammophon for bringing it to Blu-ray. I wish I could have seen the production 'live' but with the advent of large screen displays, HD, and excellent sound tracks the 'media adaptation' makes a very satisfying experience. There were moments that were absolutely chilling - enough to actually surprise me. To the die-hards, I would say, clear your minds of preconceptions and give this a chance. To the newbies, I would say, this may be the fastest 16 hours of theatre you will ever experience.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful. See all 158 customer reviews...
By B Keller
It's hard for me to not love a Wagner opera, and the Ring Cycle was my first exposure to a complete performance, being the Solti Ring on eleven reels of tape. I attended the previous production of "Rheingold" at the Met back in probably the mid 80's, when it was the new production. And that "Ring" I still own on Laserdisk and DVD. And if you haven't seen it, you should. Bad points, well it's a DVD with compressed audio, but it is a traditional production, which I prefer. This new production on Blu-Ray has its merits. Audio is exceptional, and the use of the Machine has gotten better as they have progressed through the cycle. The opening of Siegfried appears to be three dimensional, very well done. They coached more out of the Machine then I could have imagined. But the Machine is at times a limiting factor, and it looks dangerous too. The old production used a stage floor of large flat rocks with different backdrops and set pieces to depict different places. Alberich's cave looked exactly like a cave. Not a suggestion of a cave, but a real cave.
It has taken a few viewings to get to appreciate this production. But it has become my favorite because the image is sharp and clear and the audio is outstanding.