Saturday January 20, 2018 8:19 pm

FanFaire celebrates RICHARD WAGNER
22 May 1813 – 13 February 1883
Man of Genius... totally incapable of anything ordinary!



A masterwork by a composer “INCAPABLE OF ANYTHING ORDINARY” 
Der Ring des Nibelungen

Music Direction: Daniel Barenboim / Stage Direction: Harry Kupfer
[filmed at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus in June/July 1991 and 1992]

An 11-disc set newly remastered from the original high definition tapes. Released October 25, 2011 expressly for Region 1 (US) DVD players. This giveaway ENDED on DECEMBER 31, 2011!
is proud to partner with KULTUR in celebrating RICHARD WAGNER and his monumental music with this extraordinary DVD giveaway. Regarded as one of three definitive Ring Cycle productions of the 20th century,1 the KUPFER Ring (after Harry Kupfer, one of Europe’s brilliant and most respected opera stage directors), also known as the BARENBOIM-KUPFER Ring (after Maestro DANIEL BARENBOIM, Wagner specialist and one of today’s most celebrated conductors2/pianists), is a favorite of many Ring Cycle connoisseurs. It may very well become yours too, after you watch this 11-disc DVD set–perhaps not in one superhuman stretch, but one 4-hour long opera at a time. Released for US DVD players for the first time last October, it includes a bonus disc featuring some performance clips and commentaries by Maestro BARENBOIM and JOHN TOMLIMSON,3the British bass who made his debut role as WOTAN, Valhalla’s chief god, in this production’s 1988 premiere. He has since sung the role at Bayreuther Festpiele every year until 2004.

In addition to TOMLINSON as Wotan, the other lead roles are convincingly portrayed by some of today’s most recognizable Wagnerian singers: ANNE EVANS – Brünnhilde, SIEGFRIED JERUSALEM – Siegfried, POUL ELMING – Siegmund, NADINE SECUNDE – Sieglinde, LINDA FINNIE – Fricka, GRAHAM CLARK – Loge, GÜNTER VON KANNEN: Alberich, HELMUT PAMPUCH – Mime, most of whom also debuted their respective roles in this production.

As every opera lover knows, Der Ring des Nibelungen is the masterwork of the great German composer RICHARD WAGNER. Thought to be the most monumental work of art to be created by one mind, it all started with Wagner’s bold idea to set to music his dramatic poem that was inspired by the story of a hero’s death as told in the “Nibelungenlied” (the tales of Germanic mythology) which he originally entitled “Siegfried’s Death”.

The complete work is a set of four powerful operatic works, collectively known in the original German as Der Ring des Nibelungen and in English as The Ring Cycle. The operas, each of which can stand on its own, are: Das Rheingold which tells how Alberich (the chief god of the underworld or Nibelung) came to curse the Ring that was stolen from him by Wotan (the chief god of Valhalla) which bestowed to its owner unlimited power over the material world; Die Walküre which tells about Siegmund and Sieglinde, Wotan’s mortal children and how Brünnhilde (Wotan’s favorite daughter) came to know about love, Siegfried the hero/issue of Siegmund and Sieglinde’s incestuous love–which tells about his carefree youth in the primeval forest and his first encounter with woman; and Götterdämmerung which tells about Siegfried’s betrayal, his vengeful death and the fall of the gods.

Wagner wrote both the music and the libretto (as he did for all of his thirteen operas), a Herculean task by any measure. In writing the libretto, he borrowed freely not only from the Nibelungenlied but also from the Nordic tales of the Edda and the Volsunga Saga, exhuming characters (swimming maidens, dwarfs, giants, and dragons) and magical objects from the depths of his imagination.

The most daunting task of his creative life, it took all of 25 years to complete. Begun in 1848, it was in 1876 when Wagner finally realized the ultimate fulfillment of all his dreams for the music-drama, his “Work of Art of the Future.” After nine weeks of rehearsals under his direction, The Ring was staged in its entirety for the first time amid fanfare and celebration, with an orchestra of heroic proportions, as the opening offering of the theatre he could call his very own–the Bayreuth Festspielhaus (Bayreuth Festival House). There were three complete performances of the Ring Cycle that year, each taking place over 4 days, in a theatre constructed under Wagner’s strict supervision.

It is a tradition that continues to this day. Bayreuth Festspielhaus, having survived the war and the taint of Nazism, lives as a shrine to the man (the most controversial composer of all time) and his music, devoted SOLELY to performances of Wagner’s works. For several weeks each summer, the Bavarian town of Bayreuth celebrates the Bayreuth Festival and comes alive with the grandiose sounds of Wagner’s operas, most specially the magnificent music of the monumental Ring. Since 1951, following the turbulent years of World War II, a new production is staged every 5 to 7 years; each product runs for at least 4 years and features some of opera’s great voices and most illustrious names. To this day, the Festival is run by Wagner’s direct descendants with music provided by the Chor und Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele under the baton of an eminent conductor selected for a particular production.

The use of cutting edge encoding technology in this digital remastering of the KUPFER Ring enhances the enjoyment of one of Bayreuth Festival’s most outstanding Ring Cycle productions. The staging, as Barenboim points out, is “timeless… not limited to a certain time or a certain Zeitgeist” (spirit of the times). Unlike the Regieopera (or director’s opera) nature of many modern operatic productions that not only ignore but horse around with the composer’s intent(often to the point of desecration), and despite being known by its director’s name, the KUPFER Ring does NOT steal the show from the singers or the orchestra (which by Wagner’s own purposeful design is hidden from the audience in a covered pit). It serves as the dramatic matrix for Wagner’s music and his message: the Ring as allegory of the human condition–beset by evil in all its forms AND redeemed by love in all its incarnations, providing the framework for the story that unfolds with each chord of the music and by each word of the poem… just as Wagner intended this great music-drama–his “art work of the future”–to be.
- © GJ Cajipe /

1The other two productions are: The CHEREAU RING 1976-1980 Ring, (also known as the Bayreuth CENTENARY Ring ) and the Metropolitan Opera’s OTTO SCHENK-GUNTHER SCHNEIDER-SIEMSSEN Ring (1986 – 2010).

2Since 2000 conductor for life of the Berlin Staatskapelle and in October 2011 appointed Music Director of La Scala.

3Was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1997 and knighted in the 2005 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his contributions to music.


VIDEO CLIPS from 21st Century productions:
LA Opera’s FRYER RING / San Francisco Opera’s ZAMBELLO RING / Metropolitan Opera’s LEPAGE RING.




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