WAGNER: DAS RING DES NIBELUNGEN Soloists: John Brocheler, Jeannine Altmeyer, Chris Merritt, Henk Smit, John Keyes, Kurt Rydl, etc; Orchestras: Residentie Orchestra, The Hague, Philharmmonic Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic. Opus Arte ★★★★★ Wagner’s Ring, dealing as it does with profound issues of public and private morality, is probably the most ambitious of all operatic works. To realise the composer’s enormous conception, director Pierre Audi has opted here for a semi-abstract production. The stage consists of a number of horizontal planes (which can be sloped) with the orchestra sometimes in the centre of the singers, thereby allowing Audi to deal with the widely differing staging demands of the cycle. Excellent casting of the key roles of Wotan, Brunhilde and Siegfried, combined with the imaginative staging, makes for a dramatically satisfying interpretation of this most demanding of Wagner’s works. The accompanying material contains an introduction to each of the operas, together with a documentary on the project. This is a very satisfying account of one of the greatest masterpieces of 19thcentury opera. www.opusarte.com Ooh, boy, you can feel the chill from here. The Pixies, one of the most dysfunctional rock acts of the past 20 years, reformed in 2004, 12 years after lead singer and main songwriter Black Francis (aka Charles Thompson) announced his intention (by a stiffly worded fax) to leave for pastures new. This su- perb documentary follows the normally camera-shy band on their reunion tour – backstage, rehearsals, tour bus, performances. Despite the surprise of sell-out concerts that greets them like a congratulatory slap on the back, it’s clear from early on that they still dislike each other. Telling silences, barely concealed contempt, sour humour . . . it’s all here in what amounts to a Mike Leigh movie with a cracking soundtrack.
You can cut the tension with a knife: Black Francis of The Pixies