Der Ring des Nibelungen

Fritz Stiedry
New York Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orchestra
Date/Location
27 January 1951 (R), 3 February 1951 (W)
10 February 1951 (S), 17 February 1951 (G)
Metropolitan Opera House New York
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
Cast

Das Rheingold

Die Walküre

Siegfried

Götterdämmerung
Reviews
classical-music.com

As Rudolf Bing’s regime began and the prior generation of Wagner singers gradually dwindled, Wagner became a less prominent and less distinguished part of the Met’s repertoire for several decades. Gebhardt’s release of the broadcast RING from 1951 thus represents a swansong for an era. There are some memorable portrayals – Hans Hotter offers a carefully judged Rheingold Wotan, Flagstad is at her mature best as Brünnhilde in Walküre (Traubel takes over the role in the later operas), Herbert Janssen turns in a classic Gunther and Blanche Thebom is an impressively focused Fricka in Walküre, but Set Svanholm’s Siegfried epitomises the dilemma facing the coming crop of Wagner singers. He divorces characterisation and singing in a way the earlier generation never did, insisting on an aggressive, swaggering, chuckling demeanour as Siegfried that over-taxes his vocal equipment and technique (a more general later tendency would be to sacrifice characterisation to singing). Fritz Stiedry is an efficient conductor who shies away from the grand moments, the performance is heavily cut, pitch discrepancies affect the timbre of some voices, the source material contains occasional shudders, beeps and dropouts, and the prompter is frequently audible. In sum, this set is a collectors’ item that falls well short of meriting a general recommendation.

Gramophone

Fritz Stiedry leads a 1951 Metropolitan Opera cycle with poor playing that gives credibility to the rumours that deafness hampered his later performances. Walküre is worth it alone for the sparks-striking Act 3 meeting of Brünnhildes of the future (Astrid Varnay, here as Sieglinde) and the past (Kirsten Flagstad, in good vocal order). Helen Traubel then takes over Brünnhilde, although her bright, forward, well studied soprano has no serious note above a G. Set Svanholm is an almost heroic but wearyingly one-dimensional Siegfried.

Rating
(7/10)
User Rating
(4.2/5)
Media Type/Label
Gebhardt, Line
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Technical Specifications
308 kbit/s VBR, 44.1 kHz, 2.08 GByte (flac)
Remarks
Matinee broadcasts
A production by Herbert Graf (1948)
Metropolitan Ring Cycle #80