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AE-003 THE OPERAS OF RICHARD WAGNER

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Price: $6.99
The disc includes complete German-language libretti keyed to the music and biographies of many of the soloists. While most performances lack the sound quality and stellar names of other recordings, each is a worthy realization of the score which is not in wide circulation. The primary purpose of the disc is to embody in a single volume a synoptic view of Wagner's evolution; such an overview is difficult to obtain with the large number of discs in conventional formats. 

The CD-ROM contains a complete performance of each of the operas in monaural sound. The operas, conductors and principal cast members are:

Title Conductor Selected cast members
Die Feen Edward Downes John Mitchinson, Paul Hudson ; April Cantelo
Das Liebesverbot Edward Downes Raimund Herincx, Alexander Young, Ian Caley, Neil Jenkins
Rienzi Edward Downes John Mitchinson, Michael Langdon; Lorna Haywood
Der Fliegende Holl_nder David Lloyd-Jones Norman Bailey; Stafford Dean; Gwyneth Jones
Tannh_user Artur Rodzinski Karl Liebl, Eberhard W_chter; Gre Brouwenstijn
Lohengrin Lovro von Matacic Fritz Uhl; Victoria de los Angeles, Christa Ludwig
The Ring Wolfgang Sawallisch Theo Adam, Jean Cox; Nadezda Kniplova
Tristan und Isolde Horst Stein Spass Wenkoff, Donald McIntyre; Katerina Ligendza
Die Meistersinger von N_remberg Reginald Goodall Norman Bailey, Alberto Remedios; Margaret Curphey
Parsifal Simon Rattle Poul Elming, Robert Lloyd; Violeta Urmana

Clips with Descriptions

The Operas of Richard Wagner includes all of his operas on a single CD-ROM. Of course, we can provide only selections of the forty hours (plus) on the disc and, naturally, they are from the better-known works. The dynamics have been adjusted for listening on the computer; on the disc itself, I tried to preserve to the extent possible the dynamics of the originals. 

We might as well begin with The Ring, where the selected performance under Sawallisch lacks the great names and, admittedly, the greatest voices of the era. Still, Nadezda Kniplova and Hildegard Hillebrecht as Br_nnhilde and Sieglinde have a good deal to offer in this segment of Die Walk_re beginning with "Fort denn eile" and Eberhard Katz sings a notable "Winterst_rme". A remarkable pair is the Elsa / Ortrud of our Lohengrin, Victoria de los Angeles and Christa Ludwig. This is the duo passage immediately following Ludwig's incandescent "Entweihte Gtter!" 

Jim Bodge has noted some corrections and omissions to information on the disc: 

HOLLNDER: This is a Telecast in English, not an Europe production. The Steersman's full name is Robert Ferguson 

TANNHUSER: What's the venue and year? I suspect it is RAI-Rome in the very late 50s. Artur Rodzinski conducts. Also, who is the Landgraf , Biterolf and Shepherd. 

TRISTAN: (Bayreuth 1977) The Shepherd is sung by Heinz Kruse and the Steersman by Heinz Feldhoff. (You had to be a Heinz to sing at Bayreuth that year - Heinz Zednik was doing Mime in the RING in those days. Do you suppose they had 57 of them around?) 

MEISTERSINGER: This is the Europe, in English on 10 February 1968. The cast list says David Brecknock, the bio says John Brecknock. The bio is correct. There are 5 other small roles (Mastersingers) unnamed. 

PARSIFAL: Amsterdam, 1997, conducted by Simon Rattle. Carston Stabell is a bass who sings parts like Fiesco and Fafner. Wolfgang Schne has been singing Amfortas since the 1970s, as well as similar baritone repertory. I suspect these are the roles they are singing in this performance - the cast list on the CD is therefore reversed. 

THE RING. The disc says the venue is Rome Radio (RAI) in the early 1970s, but that is just when it was broadcast. It's Rome alright, but no later than early spring of 1968. That's when the Mime, Erwin Wohlfahrt died - just after singing in Karajan's RHEINGOLD at Salzburg. It is definitely Wohlfahrt singing on the RAI recording, he sounds very much as he does on other recordings, though on best behavior - singing more and acting less. I support this dating by noting that Helga Dernesch and Janis Martin had moved into leading soprano roles such as Br_nnhilde and Kundry by 1970 and would be unlikely to revert to mezzo parts such as Fricka and a Norn thereafter. Dernesch was very prominent as Br_nnhilde, Isolde and Fidelio in the early 70s. Also, Karl Ridderbusch doesn't sing Hagen for RAI, a part he became known for as soon as he took it on, which wasn't till 1970. Gerd Nienstedt sang Gunther at Bayreuth in 1973 and 74, not a decade earlier as the bio has it. Jean Cox sang both Siegfrieds at Bayreuth annually from 1970 through 1976 - no one else did. He returned as the bio indicates for one isolated performance each in 1978 (SIEGFRIED) and in 1983 (GTTERDMMERUNG). Aili Purtonen is the correct spelling of the name of the woman singing Schwertleite. 

Product Reviews

(13 Ratings, 2 Reviews) Average Rating:
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Worth it for the early operas alone
Jennifer Lunde (New Berlin, WI) 3/6/2016 7:42 AM
You will not be able to play this in an ordinary CD player. (The other reviewer is correct on that point.) To get this to work properly, you will need to save over the music files and libretti to a computer. After that you're free to do whatever you like with all the operas. The Rienzi is indispensable (there's no other place to get it these days) and the other operas are given in rare performances, most of them good. This disc is more than worth the effort to get working properly, as is the Strauss CD-ROM. Recommended.
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Very disappointing
J.Brand (UK) 4/28/2011 7:23 PM
This is a very difficult disc to play. Not easy to find the individual operas and keep with them; impossible to bring up a German libretto or any advertised biographical details; the sound only comes from the LH speaker. Frankly - a waste of money.
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