Christian Thielemann, “by common consent the leading Wagner conductor of our time” (Die Presse), returns to Bayreuth for this radiant account of Die Walküre filmed at the 2010 Festival. Appearing on DVD and Blu-ray for the first time, it provides the only audio-visual document of Tankred Dorst’s Ring production, and follows the hugely successful release of the whole cycle on CD. Two new singers join the cast: Johan Botha as Siegmund, who was showered with praise by the press (“ideal vocal casting” in the words of the critic on the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) and Edith Haller, with her “beautiful, strong soprano voice” (Süddeutsche Zeitung) as his sister and lover Sieglinde.
Hans Neuenfelss striking new production of Wagners fairytale opera gives this medieval story of doomed love and sorcery the Bayreuth treatment. As controversial as it is stimulating, this production was the talk of the 2011 Festival, and showcases a new generation of Wagnerian singing talent including soprano Annette Dasch and tenor Klaus Florian Vogt. Lohengrin is staged by the enfant terrible Hans Neuenfels, and offers a thought provoking production of brilliant visual clarity. The performance by Klaus Florian Vogt in the title role is staggering and impressive. There is beauty and purity in his voice, but in this role in particular, one truly senses something unheimlich, other-worldly, which fits superlatively both with work and production. Conductor Andris Nelsons brings out the best in the festival chorus and orchestra. It is a Lohengrin one does not easily forget and puts Bayreuth back in the vanguard of Wagner interpretation.
This production of Richard Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” was recorded during the Deutsche Oper Berlin’s great tour to Japan in 1993. Directed by Götz Friedrich and conducted by Jiří Kout, this interpretation of the adulterous love between the Cornish knight Tristan and the Irish princess Isolde was a great success. Wagner’s composition of “Tristan und Isolde” was inspired by his love affair with Mathilde Wesendonck and the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer.
Parsifal represents the culmination of Wagner’s work as a revolutionary composer of opera. In it he created a powerful allegory on the conflict between Christianity and paganism, good and evil, light and dark, physical passion and spiritual abstinence. This dramatic production by the brilliant German stage director Harry Kupfer marked Daniel Barenboim’s appointment as the artistic director of the Berlin State Opera in 1992. The cast is made up of the finest Wagnerian singers of the period, all of whom enjoyed substantial international careers. Barenboim’s superb conducting reveals Wagner’s multi-layered score in all its glory.