Oct 13

Der Ring des Nibelungen (Wagner)  conducted by Marek Janowski, Staatskapelle Dresden ★★★★★

This production, recorded in 1981-1983, is reportedly the first digital Ring on the market. It had a star-studded cast, many of the best known opera singers doing cameo pieces, such as the Rheinmädchen or some of the Walkürien, but also including Jessye Norman, Siegfried Jerusalem, Peter Schreier, Theo Adam, and Rene Kollo as Siegfried. Much discussion about the use of the Californian Jeannine Altmeier as Brünnhilde on Amazon.com regards some weakness in her voice. There is truth to that, though it doesn’t seem to diminish her role, and excellent singing.

The Ring des Nibelungen is a work of four continuous operas, a total of 15 hours long, all of superb music. I try to make my way through either an audio or video production of the Ring every fall/winter around Christmastime, and having obtained a new rendering of the Ring, gave it my ear. This production originally sold on the market for about $80 and is now down to less than $30, a real steal for 14 CDs of superb music. How does it compare to other Rings? What is the best Ring? I’m not sure one can say. Every Ring out there has a few problems; none are perfect. For such a lengthy piece, how can one expect a perfect Ring? As Wagner performers are becoming harder to come by, it may be a few years before a definitive Ring hits the market again.

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