Wagner: Götterdämmerung

John Pitt
New Classics (UK)

Richard Wagner’s vast work, Der Ring des Nibelungen (‘The Ring of the Nibelung’), comprises four full-length operas and is arguably the most extraordinary achievement in the history of opera. Götterdämmerung (‘Twilight of the Gods’) is the last of the four operas received and its premiere at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus in 1876 as part of the first complete performance of the Ring. The title is a translation into German of the Old Norse phrase Ragnarök, which in Norse mythology refers to a prophesied war of the gods which brings about the end of the world. However, as with the rest of the Ring, Wagner’s account of this apocalypse diverges significantly from his Old Norse sources.

This splendid four-SACD release from Melba Recordings makes musical history by completing the first ever Ring Cycle to be recorded in state-of-the-art Super Audio 5.1 surround sound. Recorded live in Adelaide in 2004, Melba’s Ring captures all the excitement and energy of the acclaimed State Opera of South Australia production in studio-perfect sound that has won praise from critics and public alike.

The State Opera of South Australia Chorus and a triumphant Adelaide Symphony Orchestra  are conducted by Asher Fisch, with an outstanding cast that includes the American tenor Timothy Mussard (Siegfried), Lisa Gasteen (thrilling as Brünnhilde), Duccio dal Monte (Hagen), Jonathan Summers (Gunther), Joanna Cole (as Gunther’s sister, Gutrune), John Wegner (Alberich), Elizabeth Campbell (Waltraute), Natalie Jones (Woglinde), Donna-Maree Dunlop (Wellgunde) and Zan McKendree-Wright (Flosshilde).