Wagner-Die Walküre (Gambill/Rootering/Denoke/Stuttgart/Zagrosek) (NTSC) (2002) (NTSC)

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Released 31-May-2007

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Opera Main Menu Audio & Animation
Booklet
Trailer-4
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 230:16 (Case: 229)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (79:55)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Janos Darvas
Thorsten Fricke
Studio
Distributor
Euroarts
Select Audio-Visual Distrib
Starring Robert Gambill
Attila Jun
Jan-Hendrik Rootering
Angela Denoke
Renate Behle
Tichina Vaughn
Eva-Maria Westbroek
Case Amaray-Opaque-Dual
RPI $59.95 Music Richard Wagner


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German dts 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (768Kb/s)
German Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles German
English
French
Italian
Spanish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

    Die Walküre does not strictly continue the story of Das Rheingold, but takes place some time in the future. Siegmund the Wälsung flees his enemies to the house of Hunding, where he is given shelter by Hunding's young wife Sieglinde. Hunding returns home and soon realises that he was one of those giving chase to Siegmund. Under the rules of hospitality which Hunding holds sacred he allows Siegmund to stay the night, but tomorrow he will fight the weaponless hero. Sieglinde drugs her husband's wine to make him sleep and then tells Siegmund how she was taken as his bride against her will. She then shows him the sword in the courtyard tree which was plunged there by a one-eyed stranger and which no-one has been able to remove. Siegmund easily draws the sword from the tree, and the pair declare their love for one another, while also realising that they are brother and sister separated at a young age.

    In the second act Wotan reveals that he had fathered the Wälsung twins in order that they would produce a child born outside of nature's laws. This child would be a hero who could do the things that Wotan cannot do, as he is bound by the contracts inscribed on his staff. One such task would be to kill Fafner and regain the Ring for Wotan. But Wotan's wife Fricka, goddess of marriage, convinces Wotan that this cannot be as such a hero would still be carrying out Wotan's will, and that Siegmund should die for his crime. A reluctant Wotan instructs his Valkyrie daughter Brünnhilde to ensure Siegmund dies in the fight with Hunding, having previously told her to assist him. A confused Brünnhilde sets off to do this, but Siegmund convinces her by his courage and love for Sieglinde to betray Wotan. An enraged Wotan himself intervenes in the duel and causes the sword to shatter on his spear. Siegmund is killed and Brünnhilde flees with the pregnant Sieglinde.

    Wotan catches up with Brünnhilde at the Valkyries' mountain-top rock. With Sieglinde safely hidden in the forest Brünnhilde submits to Wotan's wrath. He decrees that she is to be stripped of her godhood and put to sleep on the rock, there to wait to be woken by any passing mortal who can them claim her as his own. Wotan's one concession to Brünnhilde's entreaties is that he will surround the rock with a wall of flame that will deter all but the bravest of heroes.

    Work commenced on Die Walküre in 1852 and it was completed in 1856, but it did not receive its first performance until 1870. It seems to be the most popular of the Ring tetralogy; it is certainly the most often recorded. The first act in particular is often given by itself, as it can stand alone as a discrete work. The most famous music though comes from the beginning of Act Three, the Walkürenritt or Ride of the Valkyries which was memorably used in Apocalypse Now.

    This is the second production from the Stuttgart Ring cycle, which uses different directors and casts for each opera. This one is an improvement on Das Rheingold, or at least it starts out that way. The opening scene in Hunding's hut is played as a domestic melodrama, a hausfrau Sieglinde having an affair behind her brutish husband's back. This works reasonably well in the sparse staging which has a wooden table, two chairs, a shower curtain and not much else.

    Act Two is less interesting. It includes the, um, largest Wotan and largest Fricka I've seen, though they both sing reasonably well. The Brünnhilde is not so good. I'm a bit puzzled by the presence of multiple figurines across the stage. They are supposed to represent the warriors claimed by the Valkyries who now form Wotan's army, but they are not used to any intelligent effect. The fight between Hunding and Siegmund is represented by two robotic dummies in the background, while the actual singers are on either side of the stage using loud hailers of the non-electronic variety. This all conspires to make what is a long act seem even longer. The third act has the Valkyries as streetwalkers and includes the use of a closed circuit television. The magic fire turns out to be a handful of candles.

    Lother Zagrosek's conducting is more convincing than in the swift but dull rendering of Das Rheingold and so this opera comes more to life. However it still suffers from the staging and there are much better versions of the work out there.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The opera is presented in the original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The video is in NTSC format.

    The video is very good with a few minor issues. Close-up and medium shots are clear and relatively sharp, with only the wider shots showing a lack of definition and detail. Colour looks a little weak, though the chosen colours for the production are fairly drab. Flesh tones are adequate. Black levels are also okay, but shadow detail is below average.

    Pixellation is visible around the opening credits, and aliasing can occasionally be seen, such as on the strings of the double-basses during the prelude to Act One. More disturbingly there were stutters and break-ups of the image on Disc One, which contains Act One. These could often not be replicated when watching the same sequence again. However cleaning the disc did not seem to remove these issues. The opening of Act Three shows a lot of MPEG compression, resulting in the image seeming to pulse.

    Optional subtitles are provided in English. The subtitles are well done with a detailed translation of the text. I noted one spelling error when "a women" was used when either "a woman" or just "women" would have made sense. This occurs when Siegmund is questioning Brünnhilde about what awaits him in Valhalla. Also the name that Siegmund gives to himself, Wehwalt, is usually translated as Woeful, though here it is given as the less meaningful Ailward.

    Despite the case stating that there are two DVD9 discs in this set, only the second disc is actually dual-layered. That disc is RSDL-formatted, with the layer change occurring at 79:55 during a brief break in the music. The layer change is noticeable but it does not disrupt the music.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Three audio tracks are provided. I listened to the DTS 5.1 track in full and sampled both the Dolby Digital 5.1 and Linear PCM 2.0 tracks.

    The audio quality is generally excellent. There is a discernable soundstage across the front, with instruments in their places, but there does not seem to be the depth that I noted on the Das Rheingold disc. Also the listener is not placed as close to the orchestra as on that disc, so the noises made by the players are not as prominent.

    The rear channels help create the illusion of being in the concert hall and also convey some audience noises. The subwoofer is blended into the overall sound so that it does not stand out.

    The Dolby Digital mix is less warm-sounding than the DTS and the soundstage does not seem to be as pronounce. The PCM track is at a significantly lower volume level, and is less forward and less engrossing.

    There were no issues with audio sync. There were a couple of dropouts on Disc One associated with the picture break-up noted above.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio and Animation

    The main menu has some video and audio from the performance, though if you go to a sub menu and return to the main menu the audio disappears.

Booklet

    The booklet contains a short piece about the work, a plot synopsis and a brief essay about the production. These are repeated in several languages. There is also a cast and crew listing and a track listing. Photographs are included, though some are not from the performance on the discs as the casting seems to be different, for example a different Hunding and Fricka can be seen.

Trailers (11:31)

    Four trailers are included on disc one, for DVDs of Schreker's Die Gezeichneten, and Wagner's Tannhäuser, Lohengrin and Das Rheingold.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This recording of the opera is also available in a PAL version with a different cover. This same release is available worldwide.

Summary

    An improvement on the first disc in the cycle, though that isn't saying much.

    The video quality is very good. However some issues were noted with the first disc of the review copy.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    A small selection of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-NS9100ES, using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-HS60 LCD projector, 95 inch screen. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 720p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD Player, Dolby Digital and DTS. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationReceiver: Pioneer VSX-AX4ASIS; Power Amplifiers: Elektra Reference (mains), Elektra Theatron (centre/rears)
SpeakersMain: B&W Nautilus 800; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Tannoy Revolution R3; Subwoofer: Richter Thor Mk IV

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