WAGNER: Die Walküre
Stuart Skelton (Siegmund). Emily Magee (Sieglinde). Ain Anger (Hunding). John Lundgren (Wotan). Nina Stemme (Brünnhilde). Sarah Connolly (Fricka). Royal Opera House Orchestra / Antonino Pappano, cond.
OPUS ARTE DVD TT: 240 min + 14 min. extra

WAGNER: The Flying Dutchman
Thomas Gazheli (Dutchman). Marjorie Owens (Senta). Mikhail Petrenko (Daland). Bernhard Berchtold (Erik). Annette Jahns (Mary). Timothy Oliver (Steersman). Chorus and Orchestra of Maggio Musicale Fiorentino / Fabio Luisi, cond.
C MAJOR DVD TT: 147 min

RESPIGHI: La bella domente nel bosco (The Sleeping Beauty).
Veta Pilipenko (The Queen / The Old Lady / The Frog). Angela Nisi ( The Princess). Antonio Gandia (Prince April). Vincenzo Taoprmina (The King / Ambassador). Shoushik Barsouman (Blue Fairy). Lara Rotili (Green Fairy / The Cat / Duchess / Cuckoo / Spndle). Enrico Zara (Mister Dollar / The Jester). Nicola Ebau (Lumberjack). Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro Lirico Cagliari / Donato Renzetti, cond.
NAXOS DVD TT: 88 min

There are numerous audio and video recordings of Wagner's Die Walküre. This site praised an imaginative modern Valencia Opera production conducted by Zubin Mehta which used projections with great effect (REVIEW). And of course there are countless audio recordings by the great Wagnerians of the past. In particular, Pristine Audio has issued the complete 1961 Met Ring conducted by Erich Leinsdorf with a young Birgit NIlsson and other leading singers of the time (REVIEW). Now we have this terrific new video, a performance from the Royal Opera recorded October 2018. It features three of today's leading sopranos: Nina Stimme, Emily Magee and Sarah Connolly. Stuart Skelton is an impressive Siegmund, and John Lundgren is a superb Wotan. This production is directed by Keith Warner with sets by Stefanos Lazaridis, costumes by Marie-Jeanne Lecca. It is a modern style production but not offensively so. There is a lot of fire in the Magic Fire scene and one might wonder how Wotan manages to hold what appears to be a real flame in his hand. This is a major addition to the catalog.

The Flying Dutchman is another work available on many videos as well as in historic recordings. This new video is from Maggio Musicale Fiorentino conducted by Fabio Luisi. Saverio Loquido designed the sets, Gabriella Ingram designed the costumes, and Paul Curran directed. This is a modern production and much use is made of projected images, which are effective. The cast is generally strong although Thomas Gazhel is at times unsteady in this demanding role. However, Marjorie Owens is a vocally strong and convincing Senta. Excellent video, although the multi-channel sound is a bit congested. Probably most viewers would prefer the DGG issue from the Met with Byrn Terfel in one of his strongest roles.

Getting away from the high drama and intrigue in Wagner;s operas, we have this rarity, Respighis charming opera La bella dormente nel bosco (The Sleeping Beauty) This is expanded from an early stage work for puppet theater based on the famous, fairy tale. Respighi has written some lovely music appropriate for all of the whimsical characters and situations. The expanded opera version was premiered in 1934. The cast on this new recording seems perfect, as singers and as actors. The fairy tale has been filmed with imagination. Excellent video and audio. No texts are provided although there is a track by track description of each section. An unusual release, and another look at Respighi's lighter side.

R.E.B. (May 2020)