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- Wagner - The Making of Der Ring Des Nibelungen (2005) [DVD5 NTSC] -

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Wagner - The Making of Der Ring Des Nibelungen (2005) [DVD5 NTSC]

Actors: Pierre Boulez, Gwyneth Jones, Bayreuth Opera, Donald McIntyre, Manfred Jung
Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC
Language: German
Subtitles: German, English, Spanish, French
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Deutsche Grammophon
DVD Release Date: August 9, 2005
Run Time: 56 minutes

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This documentary, originally made for television, not only chronicles the making of the brilliant, controversial centennial production of Wagner's Ring Cycle at Bayreuth; it also looks at the history of Bayreuth Ring productions and the history of the Wagner family, preserver and modifier of his performing tradition. It includes some recordings and film clips that will interest devotees of performance history and interviews with the artists behind the spectacular success (after early controversy) of the 1976 centennial production: director Patrice Chereau, conductor Pierre Boulez, and television director Brian Large.

Wagner's widow, Cosima, took the role of keeper of the sacred flame, and preserved 19th-century performance practices into the 1930s, when they were hopelessly obsolete. The sacred flame was passed on to Winifred, wife of Wagner's son Siegfried and a close friend of Adolf Hitler. He visited Bayreuth frequently and is shown basking in the admiration of ecstatic throngs. After World War II, the next generation, Wolfgang and Wieland Wagner, began to experiment with avant-garde staging. Winifred hated the changes they introduced but concluded it was "better to be furious than to be bored."

The 1976 production (filmed with the same performers in a 1980 revival) is the pinnacle of their experimentation. Chereau updated the action to Wagner's lifetime and later, interpreting the cycle as a critique of the 19th century. Boulez lightened and clarified the orchestral texture so radically that the orchestra members formally protested. The result is a Ring cycle that many consider the best on home video; the alternative is a Metropolitan Opera production whose fidelity to Wagner's original vision would have gladdened Cosima's heart. --Joe McLellan

This partnership of Boulez, Chreau and Peduzzi put Wagner's Ring back where it belonged - at the centre of controversy. By the time it was last seen on stage of the Festspielhaus in 1980, the production had taken its place as one of the historic achieveme

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