Notes and Editorial Reviews
...[H]ere is a production meant to be seen and experienced, not merely listened to. The production, by the acclaimed Pierre Audi adds immensely to the impact; indeed, I would go so far as to say it brings deeper meaning to it than the performance itself, which is adequate but not exceptional. "Concept" is a much maligned word, because any artistic effort has a kernel of concept somewhere. Audi’s concept is brilliant. Because the Ring is a universal human drama, he wants to involve the audience physically as well as emotionally. The stage extends via a walkway just above the audience, and the singers move "into" the audience without actually being part of it.
Audi’s team created a "no set" set, constructed of huge plates of glass and suspended metal, light and darkness. For a modern set it is remarkably organic: the materials are "of the earth", natural glass, natural steel, crafted and operated by hand. One of the themes of the opera is, after all, construction and architecture on a grand scale. Despite the darkness, there is a strong sense of natural transparency – the huge glass plinth, lit from below, shines and sparkles like the Rhine, and you forget how profound its depths are. Similarly the open plan nature of the set.
Most interestingly, Audi wanted to bring out the integral drama in the music. At Bayreuth, Wagner hid the orchestra in a pit below the stage. For Audi, the music is so important that he wants the orchestra to be part of the action in a visible, physical sense, too. The audience thus is seated around the orchestra who are visible at all times. This creates a different, but very dynamic acoustic. Surprisingly, the singers found it enjoyable even though they were facing the orchestra. Graham Clark said that when you’re "eyeball to eyeball" with audience and musicians, your focus adapts. The conductor, Hartmut Haenchen adds that many Wagnerian singers shout and ruin their voices. This new arrangement allowed them to sing "with" the orchestra. Moreover, the orchestral players loved it, as they could hear better what was going on on-stage and gauge their responses more sensitively...
...In all, this is a production to study for its insights. The spare set and the visible orchestra concentrate attention on what is happening in the drama, and on its psychological, philosophical ideas. Ultimately, this is much more in keeping with Wagner’s dearest wish, that his operas should make people think, than any amount of Teutonic kitsch.
-- Anne Ozorio, MusicWeb International
Recorded live from the Het Muziektheater, Amsterdam, 1999
Picture format: NTSC 16:9
Sound format: LPCM 2.0 / DTS 5.1
Region code: 0 (worldwide)
Subtitles: English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, Japanese
Running time: 16 hours 48 mins
No. of DVDs: 11