Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen / Levine, Metropolitan Opera

Release Date: 10/8/2002
Catalog Number: 4716782
Composer: Richard Wagner
Conductor: James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble: Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Number of Discs: 14

Physical Format:

CD
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Notes and Editorial Reviews
Christa Ludwig sounds no less fresh and commanding in Fricka's music as she did two decades earlier in Solti's Ring. Then there's James Morris, whose Wotan and Wanderer set new standards in these complex, multi-dimensional roles, just as Schorr and Hotter did in their respective heydays. A full synopsis of each opera is included, but no texts or translations. In all, cost-aware Ring shoppers should give this set serious consideration.

DG reissues its late-1980s Levine/Met Ring cycle as a budget-priced, space-saving boxed set, providing serious competition for similarly packaged editions of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen from Philips and EMI. For starters, Levine's Ring largely benefits from modern-day studio recording and its myriad advantages, without the stage noises or errors of execution and balance that occasionally occur in the live Böhm (Philips) and Sawallisch (EMI) Rings. More importantly, the present Ring attests to the high level of ensemble sophistication, flexibility, and polish the Met Orchestra had developed over the years under Levine's music directorship. Listen, for example, to the incandescent grandeur and careful detail characterizing the Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla and Siegfried's Funeral March, or the full-throated intensity with which Die Walküre's three preludes and the Siegfried third-act prelude set up the ensuing drama. By contrast, Levine brings an almost Mozartean lightness and point to Das Rheingold Scene 2's quick-witted negotiations between Wotan, Loge, and the giants Fasolt and Fafner. In Siegfried, the same can be said for Levine's incisive, playful shaping of the comical bickering between the protaganost and Mime.

It's one thing to claim that the state of Wagner singing in the late 1980s fell far short of what opera audiences experienced in the '50s and '60s, and it's quite another to prove it. Granted, Hildegarde Behrens (Brünnhilde) and Reiner Goldberg (Siegfried) don't possess the steadiest top ranges in the business, but their respective timbres certainly match the roles they portray. Matti Salminen's imposing vocal presence brings out every inch of Hagen's scheming, evil nature, although Jessye Norman's deep-dish, ravishingly sung Sieglinde is far removed from the character's youth and vulnerability. Christa Ludwig sounds no less fresh and commanding in Fricka's music as she did two decades earlier in Solti's Ring. Then there's James Morris, whose Wotan and Wanderer set new standards in these complex, multi-dimensional roles, just as Schorr and Hotter did in their respective heydays. A full synopsis of each opera is included, but no texts or translations. In all, cost-aware Ring shoppers should give this set serious consideration.
--Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com
Works on This Recording
1. Der Ring des Nibelungen by Richard Wagner
Performer: Hildegard Behrens (Soprano), Matti Salminen (Bass), Mark [Classical] Baker (Tenor), Birgitta Svendén (Alto), Jessye Norman (Soprano), Bernd Weikl (Baritone), Ekkehard Wlaschiha (Baritone), Siegfried Lorenz (Baritone), Kathleen Battle (Soprano), Cheryl Studer (Soprano), Mari Anne Häggander (Soprano), Kurt Moll (Bass), Reiner Goldberg (Tenor), Heinz Zednik (Tenor), Jan-Hendrik Rootering (Bass), Gary Lakes (Tenor), Siegfried Jerusalem (Tenor), Hanna Schwarz (Mezzo Soprano), Christa Ludwig (Mezzo Soprano), James Morris (Bass Baritone)
Conductor: James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble: Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1853-1874 ; Germany
2. Das Rheingold by Richard Wagner
Performer: James Morris (Bass Baritone), Diane Kesling (Mezzo Soprano), Hong Hei-Kyung (Soprano), Ekkehard Wlaschiha (Baritone), Siegfried Lorenz (Baritone), Birgitta Svendén (Alto), Meredith Parsons (Alto), Mark [Classical] Baker (Tenor), Kurt Moll (Bass), Jan-Hendrik Rootering (Bass), Heinz Zednik (Tenor), Siegfried Jerusalem (Tenor), Christa Ludwig (Mezzo Soprano), Mari Anne Häggander (Soprano)
Conductor: James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble: Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1854 ; Germany
3. Siegfried by Richard Wagner
Performer: James Morris (Bass Baritone), Hildegard Behrens (Soprano), Ekkehard Wlaschiha (Baritone), Kathleen Battle (Soprano), Birgitta Svendén (Alto), Reiner Goldberg (Tenor), Kurt Moll (Bass), Heinz Zednik (Tenor), Julie Landsman (French Horn)
Conductor: James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble: Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1871 ; Germany
4. Götterdämmerung by Richard Wagner
Performer: Hong Hei-Kyung (Soprano), Hildegard Behrens (Soprano), Matti Salminen (Bass), Meredith Parsons (Alto), Bernd Weikl (Baritone), Ekkehard Wlaschiha (Baritone), Andrea Gruber (Soprano), Cheryl Studer (Soprano), Reiner Goldberg (Tenor), Hanna Schwarz (Mezzo Soprano), Helga Dernesch (Mezzo Soprano), Diane Kesling (Mezzo Soprano), Tatiana Troyanos (Mezzo Soprano)
Conductor: James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble: Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1871-1874 ; Germany
5. Die Walküre by Richard Wagner
Performer: Marilyn Mims (Soprano), Linda Kelm (Soprano), Marita Napier (Soprano), Jessye Norman (Soprano), Hildegard Behrens (Soprano), Kurt Moll (Bass), Gary Lakes (Tenor), James Morris (Bass Baritone), Diane Kesling (Mezzo Soprano), Christa Ludwig (Mezzo Soprano), Ruthild Engert (Mezzo Soprano), Anne Wilkens (Mezzo Soprano), Reinhild Runkel (Alto), Meredith Parsons (Alto)
Conductor: James Levine
Orchestra/Ensemble: Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1856 ; Germany
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