Der Ring des Nibelungen

Ádám Fischer
Hungarian Radio Choir
Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra
19 June 2008 (R), 20 June 2008 (W)
21 June 2008 (S), 22 June 2008 (G)
Béla Bartók National Concert Hall Budapest
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio

Das Rheingold

Die Walküre



Wagner’s “The Ring of Nibelung” is one of the biggest challenges not only for the performers and production team, but also crews and management responsible for logistics. The sixteen-hour-performance takes four evenings but for this reason, even the large opera houses including Vienna and Bayreuth Festival always have a day off after “Die Walküre” and “Siegfried”. Wagner lovers think that a serious Ring cycle needs at least six days to complete.

The third annual “Wagner in Budapest Festival” challenges this “common knowledge“, and performed the entire Ring cycle in four consecutive days with the best cast in the world. Adam Fischer was the driving force of this giant project.

The co-production of the Palace of Arts and Hungarian Radio, they had already performed half of the Ring last year. Following the premiere of “Siegfried” on 7 June and “Götterdämmerung” on 14 June, the challenging Ring cycle started on 19th June.

The concept of the production remains the same. Music takes a central role in this production. With minimum stage set, the singers were in concert dress and tails. There is no violent action that may disturb the singers singing, however, good singers are just like good story tellers. Their voice, facial expression and minimal movement are enough to express the emotion of the character.

The director, Hartmut Schörghofer remained the principal; using multi-media technology to express Wagner’s idea and not add peculiar directorial interpretations. Since the Ring is so long, there are some scenes difficult to understand, for example the first act of “Götterdämmerung”, but in general the production is loyal to the text. From the beginning scene of swimming Rhine maidens to the finale of the burning Walhalla, some are realistic, others are very comical, the screen behind the singers created the Wagner’s world. Although this kind of approach does not always get good reviews from German critics, it was welcomed by hard-core Wagnerians.

Musically, it was dream co-starring the current best Wagner singers. Christian Franz’s sarcastic Loge, somewhat guileless bad guy Alberich of Hartmut Welker, and the majestic Wotan of Alan Titus were at the center of “Das Rheingold”.

“Die Walküre” was really perfect casting. Danish tenor Stig Andersen sang a tragic hero Siegmund. One of the best dramatic sopranos, Evelyn Herlizius was a sensitive and delicate Sieglinde. They were chased by the strong Hunding of Walter Fink and his dogs. Finnish baritone Juha Uusitalo acted the mighty king of the Gods, and Susan Bullock sang a lovely Brünnhilde.

Siegfried and his hornIn “Siegfried” the title role of Christian Franz dominated. Alan Titus’s Wanderer and Michael Roider’s Mime supported very much, but the final duet by Siegfried and Herlizius’s Brünnhilde was exceptional.

In “Götterdämmerung”, the cold Hagen of Matti Salminen made a strong impression. Susan Bullock’s Brünnhilde was a little light voiced, but she sang a marvellous finale. Not only international casts, Hungarian singers were no less capable of the Ring. Besides Judith Németh who is already a well known Wagner mezzo, there are many young singers who we can expect to hear a lot in the future. For example, Gabi Gál who sang the voice of the woodbird in beautiful intonation. MR Chorus (Choirmaster: Kálman Strausz) was so dramatic that their voices filled the concert hall.

Adam Fischer and the Hungarian Radio Symphony Orchestra did not lose concentration during those four days. Of course it is long and there were some mistakes because of fatigue, but detailed interpretation expressed Wagner’s world clearly.

Applause by enthusiastic Wagnerians got louder day by day, and there was so many bravo calls even before the first act of “Götterdämmerung”. After the final note disappeared, there was a long silence, and then the clapping started. When the all singers came on the stage, thunderous applause broke out. All casts including actors and dancers were celebrated. When the choir and orchestra came on stage thej audience responded with the biggest longest applause.

Not only Hungarian critics, the international media celebrated this Ring cycle. Some even wrote that Budapest is “Bayreuth by the Blue Danube” and will be a strong rival of Bayreuth Festival. Local fans are so proud and even saying “The Budapest Ring is better than current Bayreuth or Vienna.” Although everyone has his own favourite singer, everybody agrees that without Adam Fischer, this would never happen. Many of the hard-core Wagnerites praised Adam’s achievements and look forward to coming back next year.

In “Wagner in Budapest” Opera Festival 2009, there will be two complete Ring cycles each in four days. First cycle is on 11-14, June. The second cycle will be on 18-21, June. In addition there are two performances of “Parsifal” on 26 and 28, June. This is the revival of the 2006 production. The casts are not announced yet, but Judith Németh, Linda Watson, Christian Franz as Siegfried in “Götterdämmerung”, Tomasz Konieczny, László Polgár, Alan Titus, and John Treleaven are expected to appear.

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Media Type/Label
Technical Specifications
320 kbit/s CBR, 44.1 kHz, 1.9 GByte (MP3)
Broadcast from the third annual “Wagner in Budapest Festival”
A production by Hartmut Schörghofer (2007/08)