This is it - the pressing and the packaging you\'ve been waiting for in a Clemens Krauss Ring. Old-timers know that, along with one or the other of the Furtwängler\'s, the Krauss Ring is the pre-stereo recording of Wagner\'s Der Ring des Nibelungen to hear. Taped at the 1953 Bayreuth Festival, the Krauss Ring has fabulous singing from some of the best singers of the \'50s: Hans Hotter, Wolfgang Windgassen, Josef Greindl, Regina Resnik, Gustav Neidlinger, and, as the most passionate Brünnhilde of all time, Astrid Varnay. It has marvelous playing from some of the best players in Germany working as the pit orchestra of the Bayreuth Festival. Best of all, it has tremendous conducting from one of the great German opera conductors of the twentieth century. Krauss doesn\'t stress the Ring\'s metaphysical tragedy with Furtwängler\'s inspired intensity; he stresses instead the Ring\'s musical drama with depth of humanity. Whether portraying gods or dwarves, heroes or villains, Krauss\' singers create fully realized characters who compel the listener\'s attention and compassion. And whether embodying agony or ecstasy, good or evil, Krauss\' players create a heightened state of awareness in the listener allowing them to comprehend more than the characters themselves of the meaning and implications of their actions. The Krauss Ring deserves to be heard by anyone who loves Wagner, but, heretofore the question has always been: which of the three inferior pressings to choose: the inevitably defective Gala pressing, the badly remastered Foyer pressing, or the imperfectly packaged Archipel pressing?
The answer is: none of the above. Instead, choose this one from Opera d\'Oro. Everything about it is first-rate. The packaging is attractive. The essay is informative. The cast lists are complete. The picture discs in plastic sleeves are lovely. And the remastering is, far and away, the best the Krauss Ring has ever had: old, yes, and live, certainly, but transparent and filled with color and light. For those who love Wagner owes it to themselves to hear this set.