Not being a lifelong Wagner devotee, I'm not sure if this particular performance has been released before or not, but I do know that it was included in a 2013 9-title release of Wagner operas recorded live from The Met from 1937 through 1954.
Why this performance? 3 words: Flagstad, Melchior, Huehn. I would add to that Leinsdorf, especially since the recording quality is so bad; his faster-than-the-norm tempi help cut through the densely muddy sound quality.
This recording was made just about a year before Solti and producer John Culshaw started on their now-legendary "Ring" recording for Decca. On this album, which might easily be regarded as a testing ground for the later project, the formidable Kirsten Flagstad takes the role of Brunnhilde.
- By Michael K. Halloran -
This legendary Bayreuth Festival production of Wagner’s 'Der Ring des Nibelungen', directed by Harry Kupfer, with designs by Hans Schavernoch, and conducted by Daniel Barenboim, is considered perhaps the finest video recording of these four operas ever made. For their innovative modernist staging, Kupfer and his team turned away from the work’s time of origin and located The Ring at a “road of history”, a meeting-place of past, present and future, which sets the scene for the story’s struggles of power and love. Barenboim’s authoritative yet highly responsive reading of the immense score and the extraordinary performances of the cast help to make this a truly memorable Ring.
Christian Thielemann, “by common consent the leading Wagner conductor of our time” (Die Presse), returns to Bayreuth for this radiant account of Die Walküre filmed at the 2010 Festival. Appearing on DVD and Blu-ray for the first time, it provides the only audio-visual document of Tankred Dorst’s Ring production, and follows the hugely successful release of the whole cycle on CD. Two new singers join the cast: Johan Botha as Siegmund, who was showered with praise by the press (“ideal vocal casting” in the words of the critic on the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) and Edith Haller, with her “beautiful, strong soprano voice” (Süddeutsche Zeitung) as his sister and lover Sieglinde.
La Fura dels Baus, famous for their opening ceremony of the Olympic games in Barcelona and opera stagings in Salzburg, Ruhrtriennale, etc., use in Rheingold 3D computer projections that evoke computer games, organic structures built of athletic performers that recall the "Cirque du soleil". “Uusitalo is a commanding, mellifluous Wotan and although Jennifer Wilson's Brünnhilde is relatively unnuanced dramatically, she sings strongly and sensitively…The youthful Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana obediently and expertly delivers the plushy textures and stagey rhetoric Mehta requires” (Gramophone).
The second part of Patrice Chéreau's epoch-making Bayreuth "Ring" is a radical re-imaging of "Die Walküre", unprecedented in its psychological penetration. "This Wagnerian drama", says Chéreau, "which is at once classical theatre and domestic comedy, enables us to interpret the myths in terms that are both anecdotical and sublime … With Wagner one is dealing with a drama tuned virtually white-hot by the music." "Nothing ever seen before on television has given a better insight into Wagner's genius." (The New York Times)
In the words of the prestigious German weekly 'Die Zeit,' the stage production of Wagner's 'Rheingold' and 'Walküre' by La Fura dels Baus 'quite possibly shows us the path that musical theater will be taking in the future.' There's no doubt about it: the Catalan city of Valencia is setting new accents in 21st-century opera not only with its spectacular new theater designed by Santiago Calatrava, but also with its visually transfixing production of Wagner's 'Ring' staged by Carlos Padrissa and his theater group La Fura dels Baus. The Barcelona-based Fura blends music, dance, acrobatics and technology into unforgettable stage events of sometimes raw but always captivating power…