The first release of the first stereo recording of the work, the historical importance of this set of Wagner's Siegfried is undeniable. Recorded by Decca at the 1955 Bayreuth Festival, this performance directed by Joseph Keilberth was to have been issued as part of the first complete Ring cycle. But persuaded that only a studio recording could do the work justice, Decca decided to shelve Keilberth's performance, a decision that led to Georg Solti recording Siegfried with the Vienna Philharmonic and ultimately to the release of a Ring cycle that many still regard as the finest ever recorded. But aside from its inherent historical value, what's its aesthetic value? While much better than average, Keilberth's Siegfried doesn't challenge the established order.
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.
The Metropolitan Opera Ring is part of a series of Wagnerian productions undertaken there that attempt to restore a Romantic realism congruent with the music, while using modern stage techniques, [and] for those who have dreamed of seeing the saga look like their visions of mythology, the results may be worth it. (The Metropolitan Opera Guide)
A traditional production with dragons, toads, and a splendid rainbow bridge all present and correct. Wotan's Farewell from the end of Die Walküre is particularly touching, and Jessye Norman is magnificent as Sieglinde (just listen to her cry of "O hehrstes Wunder!" in Act Three of Walküre!) (Presto Classical)
Volker von Alzey, the royal bard of the Burgunds (far greater then modern Burgundy), ruled by the Christian, papist king Gunther, who has two brave, loyal brothers and a sister Kriemhild, tells in rhyme the tale of Siegfried of Xanthen, who in the northern kingdom of the Lowlands was a forgery apprentice, till his jealous rival's attack made him drench his blade in blood, which made it all-splitting, the right means to slay the feared-most dragon, Rachnir, whose blood makes him, once bathed in it, invulnerable.