Wagner: Der Ring des Nibelungen - Varnay, Mödl, Hopf, Symonette, Hoffman, Talvela, Kélémen; Quennet. Düsseldorf, 1966
Listen to a Sample:
- The remarkable achievement of this Ring Cycle is made all the more impressive when you consider that it comes from Düsseldorf, an important opera town to be sure, but not on the same level as Munich or Berlin.
- The main achievement is in the casting of Brünnhilde. Astrid Varnay and Martha Mödl split duties as Brünnhilde. Both legendary sopranos were beginning to make the shift into mezzo territory, still their long experience in these parts redeems any vocal shortcomings that might creep up from time to time.
- Astrid Varnay fares far better vocally than Mödl. She manages all the high Cs with aplomb as well as some truly gorgeous lyrical singing.
- In Götterdämmerung, Martha Mödl was stepping in at the last minute for Varnay in what would be the last Brünnhilde of her career. Vocally the performances is far from a triumph. There are points were her voice cannot cope with the demands and she is forced to take down whole lines. That said she does not hold back dramatically at all, delivering her signature intensity and commitment to text and at times manages to display some impressive vocalism that harkens back to her brief but memorable prime in the early 50s.
- Hans Hopf asserts that he is a Siegfried for the ages. His voice is absolutely tireless during the dramatic moments and he manages the high Cs and B flats with an ease you would not expect from a voice that is so baritonal in nature. However, some of his most exquisite singing comes during the more lyrical moments like the forest murmers in Siegfried, demonstrating that this singer had brains as well as braun.
- Randolph Symonette heroically sings in all four operas as Wotan, Wanderer and Hagen, faring better in the latter.
- Grace Hoffman, Martti Talvela and Zoltan Kélémen deliver admirable turns as Fricka, Hunding and Alberich
- There are some brief drop-outs on this recording and the overall sound lacks depth.