10.4 C
New York
Friday, November 27, 2020
Advertisement

Wagner: Die Walküre [Thielemann/Bayreuth] Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080i/60
  • Audio Codec: PCM 2.0, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Subtitles: German, English, French, Spanish
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1
  • Studio: Opus Arte
  • Blu-ray Release Date: April 26, 2011
  • List Price: $45.98

[amazon-product]B004LWG3XQ[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B004LWG3XQ[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product region=”de” tracking_id=”bluraydefin0e-21″]B004LWG3XQ[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(Screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG  thus are meant as a general representation of the content and do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:3.5/5]

Die Walkure, as the most frequently performed opera of the Ring tetralogy, is the work that is crucial  to the success or failure of each new cycle.  Christian Thielemann, a veteran Wagnerian conductor, leads this 2010 performance from Bayreuth, its original home. Director Tankred Dorst’s production, introduced in 2006, yields mixed results as will be described later.

Die Walkure starts the course that eventually dooms the Gods and ushers in a new world order.  Wotan, the chief God (Albert Dohman) is the father of the Valsung twins, brother, Siegmund (Johan Bothan), and sister, Sieglinde (Edith Haller). They meet for the first time since childhood  in the house of Hunding (Kwangchoul Youn), Sieglinde’s husband and Siegmund’s sworn enemy. When the siblings  elope, Wotan is berated by his wife Fricka (Mihoko Fujimara) for not supporting the principles of marriage;  she compels him to prevent his runaway children from consummating their union. Brunnhilde (Linda Watson) a Valkyrie, and Wotan’s favorite daughter, takes pity on the Valsung twins and, after Siegmund is killed in battle, spirits away the now pregnant Sieglinde. For her disobedience, Wotan strips Brunnhilde of her divinity and at the opera’s end, surrounds her sleeping body with a protective ring of magic fire.

While nearly four hours long, Die Walkure has surprisingly little action, placing significant premiums on vocalism, stage direction, and orchestral leadership.  With some noteworthy exceptions, this performance is a worthy depiction of the conflict between mortal and divine worlds.  Act I has the strongest singing: Botha’s ringing tenor, Haller’s limpid soprano, and Youn’s cavernous bass, work well individually and together. In Act II, when Dohmen makes Wotan’s entrance, we are given understated and underpowered rather than magisterial singing. The same can be said for Fujimara’s Fricka who seems overparted to challenge her husband’s divine authority.  Fortunately, the Watson Brunnhilde, while hampered by a hideous costume, capably sustains Wagner’s challenging vocal line to the very end.  Maestro Thielemann supports the singers well, allows felicitous orchestral details to be heard, and keeps the tempos steady but not languorous. Tankred Dorst’s propensity for dark minimalist sets will not please traditional Wagnerian audiences. The wardrobe designer Bernd Skodzig must also take some of the visual blame for costumes which are either drab (Siegmund, Sieglinde, and Wotan) or bizarre a la Star Trek (Brunnhilde, Fricka, and the Valkyries).

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Michael Beyer’s videography is technically excellent but the consistent darkness of the sets until Act III compels a steady stream of close ups since there is little backdrop for contrast. The costumes are a mish mash of styles and eras, none particularly flattering to the singers most of whom are on the portly side. Unless one is watching in a nearly dark viewing room, there will be periods where it is difficult to see what is happening on stage. When lighting permits, the HD detailing is superb  and gives a sense of realism to the singers. The stage direction harkens back to the old operatic era of “park and bark,” when singers hit their marks, regardless of dramatic sense, and delivered their solos.  Those anticipating the famous “Ride of the Valkyries” spectacle will demand some kind of refund as the flying sisters remain earthbound with the shrouded figures of their fallen heroes. Fortunately, the concluding “Magic Fire” scene is the most effective tableau of the evening.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4.5/5]

Having been to the Bayreuth Festspielehaus, this production’s setting and the holy grail for all Wagnerites, I can attest to its acoustics, among the best in the world for live opera.  The DTS-HD-Master Audio recording gives an excellent account of what one would hear from a premium (read: expensive) seat. The balance between singers and orchestra is exemplary. Hall ambience is modest, but true to a relatively anechoic setting. If you can’t make it to Bayreuth for next year’s ring, you will still get a good sense of the total sonic experience from this disc.  The audience is well behaved until the intermissions and finale when it cuts loose in long, appreciative applause and cheers for the cast and conductor.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

Besides the usual and dispensable cast photos, there is a 23-minute featurette on the making of Die Walkure that will be of interest to most viewers.

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

Three other Blu-ray versions of Die Walkure contend for pride of place: a Spanish Valencia production conducted by Zubin Mehta, a French Aix-en-Provence version led by Sir Simon Rattle, and a German National Opera Weimar performance under Carl St. Clair. The last Blu-ray can be readily dismissed as an inept, poorly led and sung production. The other two have some virtues that compete with this one under review. The Mehta Walkure has some excellent singing in the major roles with quite interesting special effects, particularly the Magic Fire scene.  Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic offer a well-conducted Walkure albeit without some of the requisite vocal firepower. For those desiring a strong traditional Walkure on standard definition DVD, go no further than Otto Schenk’s well conceived Metropolitan Opera production led by James Levine, and, most importantly, cast with some of the best Wagnerian singers of our time. Reservations notwithstanding, this new Bayreuth video contends for the head of the Blu-ray pack due to the excellent contributions by four of the principal singers (Botha, Youn, Haller and Watson), solid orchestral leadership by conductor Thielemann and outstanding sound recording.

Additional Screen Captures

[amazon-product]B004LWG3XQ[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product region=”uk” tracking_id=”bluraydefinit-21″]B004LWG3XQ[/amazon-product]

[amazon-product region=”de” tracking_id=”bluraydefin0e-21″]B004LWG3XQ[/amazon-product]

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:3.5/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4.5/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Join the Discussion on Our Forum

Advertisement

Related Articles

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Blu-ray Review)

An excellent entry (or farewell?) for this beloved franchise with lots of action and great animation.

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula (Blu-ray Review)

This is an uneven but still fun to watch sequel to the 2016 smash hit zombie/action movie lands on Blu-ray with a rollicking Atmos mix.

Chernobyl (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

The account of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster in Ukraine, Soviet Union, and the subsequent health and political fallout is told in five gripping episodes.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Stay Connected

301FansLike
0FollowersFollow
724FollowersFollow
- Advertisement -

Notice of Compliance with FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 16 CFR Part 255

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR part 255 guidelines, this website hereby states that it receives free discs and other theatrical or home entertainment “screeners” and access to screening links from studios and/or PR firms, and is provided with consumer electronics devices on loan from hardware manufacturers and/or PR firms respectively for the purposes of evaluating the products and its content for editorial reviews. We receive no compensation from these companies for our opinions or for the writing of reviews or editorials.
Permission is sometimes granted to companies to quote our work and editorial reviews free of charge. Our website may contain affiliate marketing links, which means we may get paid commission on sales of those products or the services we write about. Our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers or affiliate partnerships. This disclosure is provided in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Latest Articles

My Hero Academia: Heroes Rising (Blu-ray Review)

An excellent entry (or farewell?) for this beloved franchise with lots of action and great animation.

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula (Blu-ray Review)

This is an uneven but still fun to watch sequel to the 2016 smash hit zombie/action movie lands on Blu-ray with a rollicking Atmos mix.

Chernobyl (4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review)

The account of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster in Ukraine, Soviet Union, and the subsequent health and political fallout is told in five gripping episodes.

2067 (Blu-ray Review)

With the world deforested and people dying from a deadly disease caused by synthetic oxygen, a quiet tunnel worker receives a message from the future and must save humanity in this uneven but watchable dystopian Aussie indie sci-fi thriller.

The Irishman (Criterion Collection) (Blu-ray Review)

Martin Scorsese's Academy Award-nominated (Best Director) late career crime world epic gets the Criterion Collection treatment it deserves.
%d bloggers like this: