Reginald Goodall
English National Opera Chorus and Orchestra
6, 13, 27 August 1977
Coliseum London
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
SiegfriedAlberto Remedios
BrünnhildeRita Hunter
GuntherNorman Welsby
GutruneMargaret Curphey
AlberichDerek Hammond-Stroud
HagenAage Haugland
WaltrauteKatherine Pring
WoglindeValerie Masterson
WellgundeShelagh Squires
FloßhildeHelen Attfield
1. NornAnne Collins
2. NornGillian Knight
3. NornAnne Evans

And you thought Hans Knappertsbusch was a slowpoke. Clocking in at a record five hours (on five CDs, no less, for an opera that usually requires four), Reginald Goodall’s crawl through the final Ring opera extends the Dusk of the Gods into endless night. The problem lies not so much with Goodall’s slow tempos as in how they get that way. Take, for instance, the Prologue’s Love Duet. Brünnhilde and Siegfried sing many long, sustained lines underpinned by a richly colored, pulsating orchestral accompaniment. Time and again the singers slightly stretch beats at the ends of phrases or elongate this or that note for added emphasis, as they should. A steady and solid underlying pulse from the orchestra, however, normally prevents the rhythmic and dramatic impetus from bogging down. Goodall was a past master at following singers, and that ultimately proves his downfall, since he rarely leads them. As a result, conversational sequences like Act 1 Scene 1 or Siegfried’s banter with the Rhinemaidens wind up sounding slower than they are, with little sense of direction.

Metronomically speaking, Goodall’s tempo for Siegfried’s Rhine Journey is just about equal to Georg Solti’s (in the latter’s pioneering complete Götterdämmerung). While neither conductor really honors Wagner’s “Schnell” directive, Solti’s firm, undulating bass lines, more varied string articulation, and stronger projection of Wagner’s syncopated rhythms make the music come alive. Goodall, by contrast, seems as if he’s simply not there. Every once in a while you hear unusual balances and other momentary felicities that I suspect were rehearsed in great detail. These include the heightened horns in the Rhine Journey’s final pages, the unusual clarity of the Act 2 Vengeance Trio, and Alberto Remedios’ vocal transformation when Siegfried appears on Brünnhilde’s rock at the end of Act 1, disguised as Gunther.

The singing, in fact, is first-rate, notwithstanding some shaky patches in the Norn scene. Whether by amazing breath control or pure will, Rita Hunter’s radiant Brünnhilde transcends Goodall’s gelatinous soundscapes. As Hagen and Gunther respectively, the late Aage Haugland and Norman Welsby genuinely play off each other. Derek Hammond-Stroud does full justice to Alberich’s spooky Act 2 cameo, and Margaret Curphey is particularly moving in Gutrune’s brief Act 3 scene. If Katherine Pring doesn’t deliver the most intense Waltraute narrative, her excellent diction allows Andrew Porter’s superb English translation to fully register. It should be mentioned that an earlier, more sprightly Goodall recording of Act 3, minus the opening scene, also is available on Chandos.

Artistic Quality: 5
Sound Quality: 8

Jed Distler

User Rating
Media Type/Label
EMI, HMV, Angel, World Record Club
EMI, Chandos
Technical Specifications
536 kbit/s VBR, 44.1 kHz, 1.2 GByte (flac)
Sung in English (translation by Andrew Porter)
A production by Glen Byam Shaw and John Blatchley
This recording is part of a complete Ring cycle.