This recording of Das Rheingold comes from a live 2010 performance at the Frankfurt Opera conducted by Sebastian Weigle. It features few singers who are likely to be known to international audiences, and while it won't join the ranks of the most distinguished versions of the opera, it offers some very fine performances. After a somewhat tentative opening, Sebastian Weigle leads the Frankfurt Opera Orchestra and the Frankfurt Museum Opera in a propulsive account of the score that beautifully captures its dramatic momentum and it has some genuinely scary moments, particularly in the Nibelheim scene. (It's surprising how some really convincing Nibelung screaming can heighten the intensity of the opera, and the Frankfurt Nibelungen delivers.) The vocal performances are not consistently first-rate, but they are never less than adequate. The weakest link is Terje Stensvold's Wotan; his voice is not the most secure or solid, and his character lacks definition. Dietrich Volle's Donner is distractingly shaky. Most of the rest of the cast is particularly dramatically engaging. The real standout is Kurt Streit's Loge; it's a sharply drawn characterization and his clear, bright, large voice is always compelling. Only slightly less engaging is Jochen Schmeckenbecher's Alberich. He gets off to a slow start, but by the Nibelheim scene has gained authority, and when he delivers the curse, he has become a raging, sputtering menace. The women are all very fine, particularly Meredith Arwady's resonant Erda, and Martina Dike as Fricke. The orchestral balance is somewhat odd in the Prelude, but otherwise the sound is very good for a live recording, except that the movement of the stage machinery can be pretty noisy. A Rheingold with a weak Wotan at its center is not likely to be anyone's first choice, but the other performances are strong enough that fans who love the opera and like hearing multiple versions should be interested in Frankfurt's offering.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins
Track Listing - Disc 1
Track Listing - Disc 2