Wagner-Götterdämmerung (Bonnema/DeVol/Westbroek/Stuttgart/Zagrosek) (NTSC) (2003) (NTSC)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 15-Aug-2007

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Opera Main Menu Audio & Animation
Booklet
Trailer-4
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 267:13 (Case: 269)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (62:58)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Hans Hulscher
Studio
Distributor
Euroarts
Select Audio-Visual Distrib
Starring Albert Bonnema
Hernan Itturalde
Franz-Josef Kapellmann
Roland Bracht
Luana DeVol
Eva-Maria Westbroek
Tichina Vaughn
Janet Collins
Lani Poulson
Sue Patchell
Helga Ros Indridadotter
Sarah Castle
Case Amaray-Opaque-Dual
RPI $59.95 Music Richard Wagner


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German dts 5.1 (768Kb/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
Spanish
Italian
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    The final act of the Ring tetralogy takes place the morning after the concluding events in Siegfried. The Norns, who spin the thread that tells the story of the world, past and future, recap some of the events so far. Ominously, when they seek to look into the future the thread snaps. We then move to Brünnhilde's mountain top where she sends Siegfried off to seek adventures in the world. Siegfried leaves Brünnhilde with the ring.

    Those adventures bring him to the hall of the Gibichungs. The Gibichung lord Gunther is in need of a spouse, as is his sister Gutrune. Their half-brother Hagen (the son of Alberich) tells Gunther about Brünnhilde and suggests that they could use Siegfried both to obtain Brünnhilde for Gunther and as a husband for Gutrune. Just then, by chance, Siegfried comes up the Rhine seeking to meet Gunther, whose exploits he has heard tell of along the Rhine. Gunther welcomes him and gets Gutrune to give Siegfried a drink. The drink contains a magic potion supplied by Hagen that cause Siegfried to forget Brünnhilde and fall in love with Gutrune. Siegfried then willingly agrees to help Gunther win Brünnhilde. He dons the Tarnhelm to change his shape into that of Gunther and braves the fire to reach Brünnhilde and bend her to his will. He takes the ring from her hand and then Brünnhilde to bed, though he places Nothung between them so as not to betray Gunther.

    The following morning he brings Brünnhilde down the mountain and changes places with the real Gunther. Using the Tarnhelm to instantly return to the Gibichung hall Siegfried tells Hagen to prepare a double wedding feast. Hagen summons the vassals who do just that. When Gunther arrives with his new bride she sees Siegfried and believes she has been betrayed. Brünnhilde sees the ring on Siegfried's finger and accuses him of having betrayed Hagen. While Siegfried denies any wrongdoing a seed in planted in Gunther's mind, and eventually he, Hagen and Brünnhilde decide to kill Siegfried on the following day's boar hunt.

    The day of the hunt arrives, and Siegfried finds himself alone by the riverbank. The three Rhinemaidens entreat him to return the ring before it is too late, though when he does half-heartedly offer to give it back they turn him down. Gunther, Hagen and company arrive. Plying Siegfried with wine they get him to tell of his adventures with Mime and the dragon. Hagen adds a spice to his wine that causes Siegfried to remember Brünnhilde, and when he reveals that he had previously taken Brünnhilde for his bride Hagen cries foul and plunges his spear into Siegfried's unprotected back.

    The vassals carry the dead hero back to the Gibichung hall. Hagen argues with Gunther over the ownership of the ring and settles the matter by killing him. Hagen then attempts to take the ring from Siegfried's finger but is spooked when the dead hand rises up. Brünnhilde takes the ring instead and calls on the vassals to build a funeral pyre by the bank of the rover. After singing the longest aria in the operatic repertory, she rides her horse onto the pyre, self-immolating. The Rhine breaks its banks, the Gibichung hall collapses and Valhalla catches fire. The Rhinemaidens claim the ring, and when Hagen attempts to take it from them they drag him under the water. The gods now destroyed, peace returns to the ever-flowing river.

    The final instalment in the Ring cycle was begun in 1868 and completed at the end of 1874, some 26 years after Wagner had started on the libretto of Das Rheingold. It would receive its first performance at the inaugural Bayreuth Festival in August of 1876. The opening act of this opera, which is really a prologue followed by Act One though it is continuous music, generally runs between 110 and 120 minutes, as long as some complete operas. It contains some almost unrealisable effects, for example the ending where a building collapses, a river overflows and a distant building catches fire. In this production from the Stuttgart State Opera, they don't even bother trying to do any of this. The curtain falls and text on the screen tells the ending of the tale. A limp end to a very disappointing cycle. The cycle was the first to use different directors and casts for each of the parts of the cycle, and the discontinuity between them has the effect of diminishing much of the power that the story contains.

    This production is directed by Peter Konwitschny, son of the famed conductor Franz who conducted the Ring more than once. The production is a mishmash of ideas which don't add up to a coherent whole, though if truth be told this is the least offensive production in this cycle. It's more of a damp squib than anything else, lacking the overwhelming sense of completion and transfiguration that the best cycles have. The orchestra plays well but conductor Lothar Zagrosek fails to achieve the necessary incandescence. The singers are generally adequate, however the Siegfried not only looks totally unlike the Nordic hero (not that this is a problem in opera), but he has a weak voice that completely fails to convince us that he has any heroic qualities. In summary, this is a Ring to avoid and this Götterdämmerung is no exception to the rule.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

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. There are also a few shots that look to be out of focus. Colour is acceptable, though flesh tones are approximate. The flesh tones in the sequence where Hagen, Gunther and Brünnhilde conspire to kill Siegfried are often very poor. Black levels are also okay and shadow detail is about the same.

    Pixelation is visible around the opening credits, and aliasing can occasionally be seen, though not to any great extent. Low level noise and other compression artefacts are visible in some of the backgrounds. Edge enhancement frequently raises its ugly halo.

    Optional subtitles are provided in English. The subtitles are well done with a detailed translation of the text.

    Boths discs are dual layered. Disc One contains Act One and is RSDL-formatted, with the layer change occurring at 62:58 during a brief break in the music. The layer change is noticeable but it does not disrupt the music. On Disc Two each Act is complete on a single layer each, the break coming between the acts.

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. Brass sounds are exceptionally well caught and there is plenty of bass.

    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 pronounced. The PCM track is at a significantly lower volume level, and is less forward and less engrossing.

    There were no issues with audio sync.

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 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.

Trailers (10:22)

    Four trailers are included on Disc One, for Schreker's Die Gezeichneten, Lohengrin, Die Walküre and Siegfried.

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

    A limp conclusion to the Ring.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is excellent.

    A small selection of extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Thursday, November 08, 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

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE