Not being a lifelong Wagner devotee, I'm not sure if this particular performance has been released before or not, but I do know that it was included in a 2013 9-title release of Wagner operas recorded live from The Met from 1937 through 1954.
Why this performance? 3 words: Flagstad, Melchior, Huehn. I would add to that Leinsdorf, especially since the recording quality is so bad; his faster-than-the-norm tempi help cut through the densely muddy sound quality.
This recording was made just about a year before Solti and producer John Culshaw started on their now-legendary "Ring" recording for Decca. On this album, which might easily be regarded as a testing ground for the later project, the formidable Kirsten Flagstad takes the role of Brunnhilde.
- By Michael K. Halloran -
Richard Wagner called Die Walküre the “first evening” of the Ring of the Nibelung; he called Das Rheingold the prologue or Vorabend. Musically and dramatically, we are introduced to a radically new and different world when the opening bars of Die Walküre resound. A fully developed orchestral palette of Leitmotivs paints a wild storm scene, and the curtain rises on a modest dwelling: a fully human scene that has nothing to do with the gods, dwarves and nymphs of Das Rheingold. At the same time, however, the way Die Walküre portrays radical beginnings reveals some telling reminiscences of the unfolding of Das Rheingold. Die Walküre is exciting and deeply feeling drama.
Christian Thielemann, “by common consent the leading Wagner conductor of our time” (Die Presse), returns to Bayreuth for this radiant account of Die Walküre filmed at the 2010 Festival. Appearing on DVD and Blu-ray for the first time, it provides the only audio-visual document of Tankred Dorst’s Ring production, and follows the hugely successful release of the whole cycle on CD. Two new singers join the cast: Johan Botha as Siegmund, who was showered with praise by the press (“ideal vocal casting” in the words of the critic on the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) and Edith Haller, with her “beautiful, strong soprano voice” (Süddeutsche Zeitung) as his sister and lover Sieglinde.
The second part of Patrice Chéreau's epoch-making Bayreuth "Ring" is a radical re-imaging of "Die Walküre", unprecedented in its psychological penetration. "This Wagnerian drama", says Chéreau, "which is at once classical theatre and domestic comedy, enables us to interpret the myths in terms that are both anecdotical and sublime … With Wagner one is dealing with a drama tuned virtually white-hot by the music." "Nothing ever seen before on television has given a better insight into Wagner's genius." (The New York Times)
The 1990 Metropolitan Opera performance of Die Walküre with James Levine conducting is a solid, four-square performance with few frills and no gimmicks, just extraordinarily fine singing and orchestral playing. There is no point in this where you find yourself asking why the director did something: this is the sort of production which could be criticised as unimaginative but defended as serving Wagner's intentions for this instalment of his Ring cycle. Levine and his orchestra give the music an emotional intensity that never overwhelms its grandeur, though perhaps in Wotan's farewell to Brunnhilde, we feel him more as father than as god.
The most famous, the most performed, the most thrilling, and the most recorded opera cycle in music history. Filmed at the world-famous Metropolitan Opera House in New York, in high definition – the award winning Robert Lepage production. Featuring Bryn Terfel as Wotan – universally recognized as the finest bass-baritone – and Wotan – of his generation. Also starring Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde, and star tenor Jonas Kaufmann as Siegmund.