Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen - Nilsson, Windgassen, Adam, Rysanek, King, Greindl, Mödl, Silja; Böhm/Suitner. Bayreuth, 1967
Listen to a Sample:
- Birgit Nilsson as Brünnhilde.
- Wolfgang Windgassen as Siegfried and Loge.
- Theo Adam as Wotan.
- Leonie Rysanek and James King as Siegmund and Sieglinde.
- As Waltraute, Martha Mödl delivers a mesmerizing narrative, by far the best I have heard from her.
- A panoply of star-turns in the smaller roles, including Thomas Stewart as Gunther, Anja Silja as the Third Norn and Freia, Erika Köth as the Waldvogel, and Karl Ridderbusch as Fasolt.
- Karl Böhm and Otmar Suitner split conducting duties (see below).
- Although the sound is in stereo and generally good, it cannot compete with the commercial release.
A WORD ABOUT THIS CYCLE:
These recordings mark the only time that Bayreuth used two different conductors for the same Ring. Initially the Cycle was scheduled to be recorded in 1966, but Birgit Nilsson, already tasked with recording the now legendary Tristan und Isolde with Karl Böhm, became concerned about the grueling schedule. So the management came up with the compromise that they would record Rheingold and Siegfried in 1966, both of which don't demand as much of Nilsson (particularly Rheingold), and Walküre and Götterdämmerung in 1967. This, unfortunately, meant displacing the esteemed conductor Otmar Suitner from some of the performances in 1967. Incidentally, Wolfgang Windgassen, who was also singing in the 1966 Tristan, didn't have any issues with the schedule.
These performances were the live broadcasts from the summer of 1967, whereas the commercial recording was a composite of the runs from 1966 and 1967. Recording engineers generally favor musical accuracy, which meant that a singer could be in phenomenal voice and then one botched entrance would doom that take to the cutting room floor. Despite the musical mistakes, there is an energy at times missing from the commercial recordings in this unique set.