WAGNER Götterdämmerung Boulez DVD-VIDEO 0734065

Large's filming is totally connected to the music and acutely responsive to nuances of character . . . the cast was able to develop a degree of naturalistic acting rare for any opera telecast and surely unique in televised Wagner . . . The gain . . . is that the emphasis on intimacy throughout this "Ring" creates genuine conversations (intelligibility, by the way, is extraordinarily high) . . .

[Die Walküre:] The orchestra's technical expertise continues impressively in Act 2 and there are wonderful details, especially in the second scene (including a surpassingly lovely reprise of the 'Spring' motif). Act 3's pacing is almost unfailingly riveting . . .

[Siegfried:] The First Act's formidable technical challenges, particularly the more scampering portions of the Siegfried-Mime exchanges, are finely executed by Boulez and the orchestra . . .

[Götterdämmerung:] Through more than four hours of music, Boulez seldom loses his dramatic momentum. Even the Norns' scene, so often lugubrious, boasts a welcome tension and variety of colour . . .

[The documentary:] DG's brilliant recorded sound is hard to beat . . . the production speaks for itself.

Chéreau's approach excels in bringing out the human side of the characters in Wagner's great epic: it's hard to imagine Siegmund and Sieglinde's love being more movingly portrayed, and Donald McIntyre memorably conveys the terrible, self-induced dilemmas with which wotan has to grapple. McIntyre is very fine musically too; Gwyneth Jones's spirited Brünnhilde is also outstanding, and Peter Hofmann and Jeanine Altmeyer are unforgettable as Siegmund and Sieglinde. And for all that initial resistance, there's much lustrous and beautifully detailed orchestral playing under Boulez's direction.

What they had with the Boulez-Chéreau Ring was a brilliant televisual experience -- colourful, vivid, a mix of fantasy and high drama that was way ahead of its time in presenting singers who looked their parts in performances that managed to be both believable on the small screen and still grand enough to belong to the impossibly lofty world of opera . . . Chéreau's . . . gods were never more nor less than ordinary human beings; the great mythic tale was revealed as an exposé of the beliefs, ambitions and failings of people in our own (or, at least, Wagner's own) time . . . The second is the emotional power of the production . .. none has gone for the solar plexus like Chéreau did . . . Every quickly changing feeling in the relationship between Brünnhilde and Wotan flashes across Gwyneth Jones's face . . . and how Jones sang her heart out! Other scenes . . . are just as exciting. For so many of the singers who appeared in it . . . this "Ring" will be the recording by which they are remembered. Thirty years on it still makes my heart beat faster.