Hofmann, a sturdy Nordic blonde who looks the part of a Wagnerian hero, does not have the prettiest heldentenor voice--he later went into contemporary repertoire and country music. However, 1980 saw the singer at a personal peak, and this Siegmund is his legacy performance. Altmeyer (who has the distinction of singing Freia, Sieglinde and Brunnhilde in three different video productions of Wagner's operas) expertly conveys the weight of Sieglinde's plight. Matti Salminen is a fine Hunding, portrayed here as the leader of a gang of Mafia toughs who will help him hunt down the hero who steals his wife.
|Peter Hofmann and Gwyneth Jones in Act II of Die Walküre|
Donald McIntyre remains one of the most intelligent interpreters of Wotan ever committed to videotape. The famous moment when he stares into a mirror and removes the covering from his mutilated eye remains a signature image of this Ring Cycle. His reliable bass-baritone lacks warmth and some of the sonorous depth associated with the part (although this may be due to Boulez' interpretation of the score.) However, this remains a deeply understood reading of the character that makes perfect dramatic sense. And he dominates the latter half of the third act, singing a moving Wotan's Farewell despite an orchestral accompaniment that wants to make it as brief as possible.
All photos and video footage © 1980 Unitel/Deutsche Grammophon.