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The Schenk/Schneider-Siemssen Production

MET RING: 1989-2009

Met Opera Ring with Hildegard Behrens as Brunnhilde

From late March to early May of 1997, New York City was a mecca for Wagner devotees. The event: the MET Ring Festival 1997. Three complete performances of Wagner’s Ring Cycle were staged, the last within the span of a single week, just as Wagner intended. To the opera lovers who came from all over the world, the festival was a pilgrimage and a celebration.

The Production

In the spring of 1997, the Metropolitan Opera in New York presented three performances of Wagner’s complete Ring Cycle, a revival of the Otto Schenk/Gunther Schneider-Siemssen production which was last staged in 1990. First introduced over three seasons from 1986 to 1988, the production was presented as a complete cycle in the spring of 1989 within the span of one week–for the first time since the 1938-39 season.

Wotan’s Farewell, from Die Walkure – the most popular
and perhaps most beloved of the four operas
with James Morris and Hildegard Behrens

Schenk’s traditionalist staging was a marked departure from the contemporary interpretations, often steeped in socio-political ideology, that had become de rigueur in European houses following the Bayreuth Centenary Ring of 1976. The production is spectacular by any measure, unsparing in its deployment of special effects. The critical acclaim was not unanimous, however. It was belittled by some critics as too literal, and perhaps because devoid of time-warping or mind-bending illusions, intellectually unchallenging and aesthetically weak. But it was warmly received by the opera-going public. They loved it then, and they still love it now.

Below are video clips from this memorable production:

Das Rheingold — Fafner fights Fasolt, Donner summons bolt

Das Rheingold — Fafner fights Fasolt, Donner summons bolt

This clip starts with Wotan giving the ring back to the giants and ends just as “Abendlich strahlt der Sonne Auge” starts–go here to see “Abendlich strahlt”:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBK8PMkpKI8

James Morris as Wotan
Matti Salminen as Fafner
Jan-Hendrik Rootering as Fasolt
Siegfried Jerusalem as Loge
Christa Ludwig as Fricka
Mark Baker as Froh
Alan Held as Donner

Otto Schenk’s fine naturalistic stage production is matched by vintage playing of Met under James Levine, from 1990.

The costumes for the giants are among the best! Matti Salminen reappears in this cycle, even more impressively, as Hagen. Some of that already posted.

Das Rheingold (“The Rhine Gold”), by Richard Wagner, premiered at the National Theatre in Munich on 22 September 1869. Kaspar Bausewein was the original Fafner, and he also created roles of Harald in Die Feen, Veit Pogner in Die Mesitersinger, and Hunding in Die Walkure. Wagner stays pretty close to the source material (here, the Old Norse Volsunga Saga) in depicting Fafner’s actions.

Erda’s Warning – Das Rheingold – Met 1990

Erda’s Warning – Das Rheingold – Met 1990

From the Met, conducted by James Levine. Birgitta Svenden is Erda, and James Morris is Wotan. A long dark slow zoom in, no editing.

Das Rheingold .mov

Das Rheingold .mov

Escena final de El Oro del Rin de Richard Wagner. Tormenta y entrada al Walhala. Producción del Metropolitan Opera House de Nueva York. Escenografía de Otto Schenk, producción en video para Deutsche Grammophon de Brian Large. James Levine y la orquesta del Metropolitan de N.Y. James Morris(Wotan), Siegfried Jerusalem(Loge), Alan Held(Donner), Mark Baker(Froh)Christa Ludwig(Fricka), Mari Anne Hänggander(Freia), Kaaren Erickson, Diane Kesling, Meredith Parsons(hijas del Rin)

Das Rheingold – 1990 Metropolitan Opera – English Subtitles

Das Rheingold – 1990 Metropolitan Opera – English Subtitles

1990 Met Opera production

Conductor: James Levine

Performers: James Morris, Siegfried Jerusalem, Ekkehard Wlaschiha, Christa Ludwig, MariAnne Häggander

Die Walkure pt 1 – English subs

Die Walkure pt 1 – English subs

Conductor: James Levine

Performers: Hildegard Behrens, James Morris, Jessye Norman, Christa Ludwig, Gary Lakes

Walküre 1. Akt: Siegmund “O süsseste Wonne! O seligstes Weib!”

Walküre 1. Akt: Siegmund “O süsseste Wonne! O seligstes Weib!”

Richard Wagner’s Walküre aus der Metropolitan Opera, New York. Sieglinde (Jessye Norman), Siegmund (Gary Lakes). Musikalische Leitung James Levine. Kostüme Schneider-Siemssen. Regie Otto Schenk.

James Morris “Die Walküre” Leb’ wohl, du kühnes, herrliches Kind

James Morris “Die Walküre” Leb’ wohl, du kühnes, herrliches Kind

Wotan’s farewell to Brünhilde from R. Wagner’s “Die Walküre” (The Valkyrie), the second opera of “The Ring of Nibelung” cycle. James Morris as Wotan, the late Hildegard Behrens as his daughter Brünhilde; the Metropolitan Opera, 1990. The DVD has been released by Deutsche Grammophon, and it’s worth buying for Morris’ performance alone.
English & Russian subtitles embedded.

Wagner – Siegfried – Siegfried forges Notung (2)

Wagner – Siegfried – Siegfried forges Notung (2)

Siegfried
Act I: “Hoho! Hoho! Hohei! Schmiede, mein Hammer, ein hartes Schwert!” & “Den der Bruder schuf, den schimmernden Reif”
Richard Wagner. Libretto by R. Wagner.
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Conduction: James Levine.
Staging and direction: Otto Schenk
Recording: Met, 1990.

Siegfried….Siegfried Jerusalem
Mime………Heinz Zednik

(w/ subs en espagnol)

Wagner – Siegfried – Siegfried forges Notung (1)

Wagner – Siegfried – Siegfried forges Notung (1)

Siegfried
Act I: “Hättest du fleissig die Kunst gepflegt” & “Notung! Notung! Neidliches Schwert!”
Richard Wagner. Libretto by R. Wagner.
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Conduction: James Levine.
Staging and direction: Otto Schenk
Recording: Met, 1990.

Siegfried….Siegfried Jerusalem
Mime………Heinz Zednik

(w/ subs en español)

Wagner – Siegfried – Act III (1)

Wagner – Siegfried – Act III (1)

Siegfried
Act III: “Dort seh’ ich Siegfried nahn” & “Bleibst du mir stumm, störrischer Wicht?” (excerpt)
Richard Wagner. Libretto by R. Wagner.
The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Conduction: James Levine.
Staging and direction: Otto Schenk
Recording: Met, 1990.

Siegfried……Siegfried Jerusalem
Der Wanderer…James Morris

(c/ subtítulos en inglés)

Wagner / Siegfried / Act 3 Finale

Wagner / Siegfried / Act 3 Finale

James Levine Metropolitan Opera 1990
Siegfried – Siegfried Jerusalem
Brunnhilde – Hildegard Behrens

Richard Wagner: Siegfried – 5.

Richard Wagner: Siegfried – 5.

http://youtu.be/UGNjz6yozWM (Siegfried – 1)
http://youtu.be/MKwMdzVcXAU (Siegfried – 2)
http://youtu.be/FNo0kWPn1OQ (Siegfried – 3)
http://youtu.be/Nxy96sZxwXc (Siegfried – 4)
http://youtu.be/hsKzyj-3qJQ (Siegfried – 5)

Music and Libretto – Richard Wagner.

The Metropolitan Opera.
Conductor – James Levine.

Siegfried – Siegfried Jerusalem
Brunnhilde – Hildegard Behrens
The Wanderer – James Morris
Mime – Neinz Zednik
Forest Bird – Dawn Upshaw
Erda – Birgitta Svenden
Alberich – Ekkehard Wlaschiha
Fafner – Matti Salminen

Gotterdammerung 2 Act: Levine, Salminen, Met Opera

Gotterdammerung 2 Act: Levine, Salminen, Met Opera

part 1 of 6

Gutrune, Hanna Lisowska
Siegfried, Siegfried Jerusalem
Hagen, Matti Salminen

Stage Production, Otto Schenk

Met Opera Chorus and Orchestra,
James Levine

Gotterdammerung 2 Act: Levine, Met Opera (Part 2)

Gotterdammerung 2 Act: Levine, Met Opera (Part 2)

part 2 of 6

Hagen, Matti Salminen
Gunther,
Brunhilde,

Stage Production, Otto Schenk

Met Opera Chorus and Orchestra, James Levine

Gotterdammerung 2 Act: Levine, Met Opera (Part 3)

Gotterdammerung 2 Act: Levine, Met Opera (Part 3)

part 3 of 6

Hagen, Matti Salminen
Gunther,
Brunhilde,
Siegfried,
Gutrune

Stage Production, Otto Schenk

Met Opera Chorus and Orchestra, James Levine

Gotterdammerung 2 Act: Levine, Met Opera (Part 4)

Gotterdammerung 2 Act: Levine, Met Opera (Part 4)

part 4 of 6

Gotterdammerung 2 Act: Levine, Met Opera (Part 5)

Gotterdammerung 2 Act: Levine, Met Opera (Part 5)

part 5 of 6

Gotterdammerung 2 Act: Levine, Met Opera (Part 6)

Gotterdammerung 2 Act: Levine, Met Opera (Part 6)

s

Hildegard Behrens: Brunhilde’s Immolation (HD)

Hildegard Behrens: Brunhilde’s Immolation (HD)

with closed captions in Deutsch, English, Spanish and French

In fact, many opera lovers will probably never get over mourning its loss to the new Robert Lepage production that is being unveiled to the public one opera at a time beginning with Das Rheingold which premiered in 2010 (followed by Die Walküre in April 2011, Siegfried in October 2011 and Götterdämmerung in January 2012).

In 1997, they came from all over the world, as if seeking to experience The Ring in its pristine purity: just the music and the drama and the myth’s universal themes of timeless value; and PLEASE, skip the ideology and the sociology! Indeed, variations of the comment “But they do silly things with it in other opera houses!” were heard above the din of intermission ravings and rantings. There were gasps of sorry disbelief when word spread that this production would be torn down to make way for a new one. The gasps were replaced by audible sighs of relief when the official word declared just the contrary: the production will be revived in the 1999-2000 season! [Note: The Met continued to stage the production until the 2009-10 season, when it gave way to the Robert Lepage production that was much heralded for its use of even more advanced stage technology.]

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ABOUT THE 1997 MET RING PERFORMANCES:

141st performance of DAS RHEINGOLD,

489th of DIE WALKÜRE,

246th of SIEGFRIED,

215th of GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG

DIE WALKÜRE was the first Ring opera
to be staged by the MET (in 1885)
and today remains
the most popular of the tetralogy.

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