Wagner: Die Walküre

Felix Martinez
HDTV Etc. (US)

For some, Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” is best remembered as the soundtrack to the Air Cavalry assault sequence in Francis Ford Coppola’s film, Apocalypse Now. For opera aficionados, it is the beginning of Act III of Die Walküre (the second of the four operas that comprise Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle, arguably the Holy Grail of opera). Australia’s Melba Recordings presents Die Walküre in a handsome hardbound volume, the first-ever presentation of Wagner’s masterpiece in high-definition hybrid SACD surround sound.

Recording the State Opera of South Australia’s acclaimed and unprecedented $15.3million production of Wagner’s epic at the 2004 Adelaide Festival – the largest single recording project ever undertaken in Australia – involved 65 microphones and recording 60 hours of performances on the SADiE H64 PCM multi-track workstation. This “live” recording is an audiophile’s dream: Engineer/mixer Phil Rowlands creates a broad sound-scape of immaculately recorded elements that envelop the listener. The performances are breathtaking. When the Valkyries ride at the start of Act III, Helmwige’s voice materialises from the right-rear speaker. Truly exquisite!

 Melba’s four-disc set is comprised of hybrid multichannel/stereo SACDs – which can also be played in stereo on conventional CD players – and 160 pages of liner notes (including libretto).

This recording of Die Walküre, released in summer 2006, is the first release in Melba’s recordings of Wagner’s Cycle. Das Rheingold will follow in October [2006], with Siegfried in February 2007 [and] Götterdämmerung in June ...


Technical Rating: A+