Wagner: Das Rheingold

Peter Kemp
Stage Whispers (Australia)

Winter 2004 in Adelaide saw the State Opera of South Australia present Wagner’s complete Ring.

… Maria Vandamme [is the] founder of Melba Recordings, which [she] created … to champion the case of the country’s classical music performers at home and abroad. From the beginning she set out to create “a Rolls Royce label that was unstinting in its quality and one that would shift the Euro-centric axis of the music industry.”

Vandamme’s choice for the recording to give justice to the Ring was Sony and Philips’ Super Audio Compact Disc. SACD represents a quantum leap in CD technology because not only can it provide the listener with better stereo and multi-channel surround sound, it also uses a new digital recording technology called DSD, Direct Stream Digital (developed by Sony).

Comparing the same well-engineered recording on both CD and SACD layers, it is immediately obvious that here is more of the atmospheric sensation of being in a concert hall with the new discs. CD sounds restricted, harsh and artificial by comparison with SACD.

Melba has [so far] released two of the Ring operas, Die Walküre and Das Rheingold. The production is by the the State Opera of South Australia with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra conducted by Asher Fisch.

The release comes in book form with an introduction by Dr Douglas G. Mitchell, presenting sponsor. It contains a synopsis, a story of the Ring in Adelaide [featured in the Das Rheingold booklet], the artists, a synopsis in German and French and the complete libretto …in German and English … At the end of the book there are envelopes containing the SACDs …

The sound is magnificent and for Wagner lovers and indeed opera lovers this set is a must …