Wagner-Die Walkure (Metropolitan Opera) (1990) (NTSC)

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Released 4-Jun-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Opera Booklet
Rating ?
Year Of Production 1990
Running Time 241:50
RSDL / Flipper RSDL
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Brian Large
Studio
Distributor
Metropolitan Opera
Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Gary Lakes
Kurt Moll
James Morris
Jessye Norman
Hildegard Behrens
Christa Ludwig
Pyramid Sellers
Martha Thigpen
Joyce Castle
Sondra Kelly
Katarina Ikonomu
Diane Kesling
Wendy Hillhouse
Case Scanavo-Opaque-Dual
RPI $36.95 Music Richard Wagner


Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame German Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles German
English
French
Chinese
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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

Plot Synopsis

Die Walkure is the second opera in Wagner's mighty ring cycle. It follows Das Rheingold and precedes Siegfried and Gotterdammerung. An in-depth discussion of all the details of the complex plot and the relationship of the events in Die Walkure to the other ring cycle operas is beyond the scope of this review. What follows is a simplified explanation of the plot in the three acts that comprise Die Walkure.

Act One starts in a home in the forest where we find young warrior Siegmund taking shelter from fighting and a fierce storm. By chance, it is the abode of his long lost sister Sieglinde. Sieglinde's husband, Hunding, returns home and strongly objects to Siegmund's presence but agrees that Siegmund can at least shelter the night but must later fight him to the death. Siegmund and Sieglinde start to fall in love even as they realize that they are brother and sister. Sieglinde reveals that a sword that has remained for years embedded in wood within the home was meant to be drawn by someone such as Siegmund. Siegmund then recalls that he had been promised a mighty sword when there was need. He removes the sword and then the lovers take flight.

The second act is set in a rocky ridge in the mountains. Wotan, creator of the sword and 'father' of Siegmund and Sieglinde is counselled by his wife not to allow the incestuous relationship of Siegmund and Sieglinde to continue. Only reluctantly does Wotan agree to this. He tells his favourite daughter/warrior (Vaulkyrie) Brunnhilde to ensure that Siegmund dies. Brunnhilde, however is so moved by the strength of the love and emotion between the two lovers that she decides to act against Wotan's wishes and prevent Siegmund being slain by his lovers husband, Hunding. Siegmund and Hunding fight. Wotan sees Brunnhilde's intervention on Siegmund's behalf and intervenes himself to ensure that his wishes are carried out. He allows Hunding to slay Siegmund before killing Hunding himself. He is furious at Brunnhilde's refusal to carry out his orders.

The third act starts with the famous Ride of the Valkyries as Brunnhilde and her sisters gather on a mountaintop. Brunnhilde is carrying Sieglinde over her saddle. The other sisters learn of Brunnhilde's betrayal of their father Wotan and fear his wrath. Brunnhilde persuades Sieglinde to escape into the nearby forest and raise Siegmund's child that she carries within her. Shortly after, Wotan arrives and he is extremely angry. The other Valkyries flee the area and the rest of the act revolves around the dialogue between Wotan and his daughter. Brunnhilde is to be stripped of her divinity and is to be put to sleep surrounded by a wall of fire and can only be awakened by a hero bold enough to venture through the flames to claim her.

Just like the Met's production of Carmen, Die Walkeri is a production with an obviously big budget and the sets reflect this. The cast contains some of the finest talents in the business. Norman, Behrens, and Ludwig are as fine as operatic talents come, although I do wonder what Wagner would have made of a black woman playing the role of Sieglinde.

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

Transfer Quality

Video

This production of Die Walkure is an NTSC full frame transfer from a videotape source.

Just like the The New York Metropolitan Opera's production of Carmen, Die Walkure is not a brightly lit one. In fact, it is darker still. The last two acts take place in a sort of eerie twilight while the first is inside a dimly lit home in the woods. Fortunately that is where the similarity with Carmen ends because this is a very good video transfer. There are no problems with these dark scenes. There is virtually no low level noise. Blacks are nice and solid. Shadow detail is good. The transfer is also quite sharp.

There is not a lot of strong colour in this transfer, but that is simply because of the costumes, stage and backgrounds used.

Grain and pixelization were never much of a problem in this transfer. Briefly, a bit of pixelization occurs in the background 4 and 19 minutes into the second disc but that is about the extent of it. MPEG and videotape artefacts were largely absent.

The second disc of this two disc set is a dual layer disc and I think the layer change lies unnoticeable at the end of Act Two for I could not see any evidence of one in any part of the transfer.

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

Audio

I have always loved the musical highlights from 'The Ring'. I guess I inherit it from my Dad who believes that it is some of the finest music ever written. At a total length of around 14 hrs for the complete cycle, The Ring is not enthralling throughout. There is a lot of singing out of various sentences with little or no orchestral accompaniment which many will find tedious or downright dull but those people are probably not the ones looking at purchasing this disc. Although my favourite music comes from the fourth opera, Gotterdammerung, for many Die Walkure contains their favourite music. The highlight is of course one of the world's most well-known pieces of classical music- The Ride of the Valkyries. Here, the audio does not disappoint.

The uncompressed PCM stereo soundtrack is not the finest version I have ever heard but it is good. The orchestra sounds a little brighter than I have heard on other recordings but it is able to convey the emotion as Wotan puts his daughter to sleep at the end of Act Three. The beautiful music found here re-surfaces later on in the cycle and is the favourite part of the disc for me. The singing from the leads could not be faulted at all. There are brief moments where there is some depth to the bass, but generally speaking the best attribute of the recording is the clarity of the very high quality singing.

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

Extras

There are only basic extras on this disc. Aside from a choice of subtitles, pressing the menu button brings you to a screen where you can only directly access one of the four Acts - not any of the 40-odd chapters on this disc. The 4x3 static main menu also allows you to check out the other DG DVDs and lists DG's and Univeralclassics' websites.There is a booklet provided that outlines the story and has shots of the production and pictures of drawings from the original production in 1870.

R4 vs R1

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

This is a region 0 NTSC DVD designed to play in all regions.

Summary

More than any other production, the operas that comprise the Ring Cycle are picked upon by those who criticize opera. Corpulent ladies and winged hats are easily ridiculed. If you can look past this then the excellent singing and wonderful music are definitely helped by this quality production and decent transfer. Die Walkure should prove a satisfying experience.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Gavin Womersley (read my bio)
Wednesday, July 18, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDToshiba 2109, using Component output
DisplayToshiba 117cm widescreen rear projection TV. Calibrated with AVIA Guide To Home Theatre. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderRotel RSP-985 THX Ultra certified surround pre-amp.
AmplificationParasound HCA-2003 3x300w THX certified power amp, NAD 208THX 2x300w power amp.
SpeakersVelodyne FSR-18 1250w 18 servo-driven subwoofer, Celestion A3 front speakers, A2 rear speakers (full range) and A4c center channel speaker.

Other Reviews NONE
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