8.4/10
82
3 user 1 critic

Das Rheingold 

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Cast

Episode cast overview:
Donald McIntyre Donald McIntyre ... Wotan
Martin Egel Martin Egel ... Donner
Siegfried Jerusalem Siegfried Jerusalem ... Froh
Heinz Zednik Heinz Zednik ... Loge
Hanna Schwarz Hanna Schwarz ... Fricka
Fritz Hübner Fritz Hübner ... Fafner
Carmen Reppel Carmen Reppel ... Freia
Ortrun Wenkel Ortrun Wenkel ... Erda
Hermann Becht Hermann Becht ... Alberich
Helmut Pampuch Helmut Pampuch ... Mime
Matti Salminen Matti Salminen ... Fasolt
Norma Sharp Norma Sharp ... Woglinde
Ilse Gramatzki Ilse Gramatzki ... Wellgunde
Marga Schiml Marga Schiml ... Flosshilde
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Storyline

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Genres:

Fantasy | Drama | Music

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

West Germany

Language:

German

Release Date:

1980 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

Das Rheingold See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

UNITEL See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Woglinde: Only one who renounces love, who forswears its pleasures forever, he alone can master the magic to forge the gold into a ring of power.
Wellgunde: Then we are safe and free from worry: all who live, love; no one will refrain from loving.
Woglinde: Least of all this lecherous dwarf! He will waste away with unsatisfied desire.
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Connections

Followed by Der Ring des Nibelungen: Götterdämmerung (1981) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Beautiful but flawed production
4 November 2009 | by pekinmanSee all my reviews

Patrice Chéreau's production of Wagner's epic 'Der Ring des Nibelungen' at the Bayreuth Festival in 1976 was met with ferocious booing and caterwauling from an outraged audience. Several singers left this production in a huff after the premiere season. The orchestra members were very unhappy with Pierre Boulez's conducting, claiming that he didn't understand Wagner's music in the least.

Well, time has passed and this production has entered the annals as a milestone in Wagner production, if not performance. And Boulez has gone on to prove that he fully understands this music but he just does it his way. And his way is free of lugubrious wallowing and cacophonous bellowing from the singers or bombast from the pit. Subsequent seasons of this show at the Bayreuth Festival were met with frenzied approbation by audiences who were prepared for this iconoclastic and revolutionary concept. Now, in 2009, we are well accustomed to revisionism by egomaniac producers and Chereau's production seems quite tame, even classic, in retrospect.

The sets are beautiful and memorable, especially so in 'Die Walküre'. This 'Das Rheingold' is famous for the hydro-electric dam in the first scene that so enraged the audience in 1976. The Rhine daughters are here shown as prostitutes which caused great offense. It's all very tame now.

The cast is very good if not ideal, but then perfection is almost never achieved in opera, especially filmed opera. Most of the singers seen here are in retirement now but at the time were largely new to the world opera scene. The best performance is from Heinz Zednik as the demi-god Loge who is the deus ex machina, or trouble maker, of the story. There is also splendid singing from Ortrun Wenkel as the earth goddess, Erda, and the dwarfs, Mime and Alberich, sung respectively by Helmut Pampuch and Hermann Becht. The Rhine daughters are a well-tuned attractive trio, which is saying about all there is to say about those characters. Their music is highly memorable and these three ladies are excellent.

The gods are slightly less satisfying. Donald McIntyre succeeds well with a less godlike voice than say, Hans Hotter or James Morris, but he is very effective and a fine actor. He looks great which counts for a lot in opera films. His wife Fricka, Hanna Schwarz, is also very good at the beginning of her long and glorious career. And Siegfried Jerusalem is ideal as the Froh the god of spring and youth, at the beginning of HIS long and glorious career.

The giants are well sung, especially the Fasolt of the young Matti Salminen at the start of yet another long and glorious career, but their costuming is clunky, with dangling, dead arms that defeat the most purposeful suspension of disbelief. The giants are always the big problem in this opera. I've seen them on stilts, I've seen them carried around on the shoulders of stage hands hidden in the folds of their floor length costumes, I've seen them costumed as human bulldozers and so on. Chereau's solution was a brave one but it doesn't work.

But, again, the sets are gorgeous, evocative and thought-provoking and the singing is of a high standard, higher than what we see these days, for the most part. And Boulez's conducting is lithe, too fleet-footed for some, but never boring and his orchestra at Bayreuth plays with the usual beauty and nuance Wagnerians have come to expect from this venue.

There isn't a totally satisfying film of this opera, or any of the 'Ring' operas, but for a modern approach this is probably the most interesting. The Barenboim film from the 1980s is less successful. Harry Küpfer's sets are depressing and the direction of the singers annoying. That was the era of lucite suitcases and gods in raincoats and laser lights, which tend to flicker when filmed and are highly distracting. And Barenboim's cast does not come up to the overall level of excellence of Boulez's singers. The Chereau production is much more successful overall, in spite of the giants' costuming.

For a traditional production of this and the other 'Ring' operas there is only one choice, Levine. I didn't take to that production for a variety of reasons and would recommend this modern Boulez show over Levine's.


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