The Ring Cycle on CD and DVD

The four operas of The Ring Cycle last in total about 15 hours, which means that it used to take up multiple records or tapes, and also a lot of production time. These days the recordings are made on DVD’s or CDs, but still take a lot of effort to produce. Because of this, many full Ring recordings are pirate recordings of live performances, especially from Bayreuth where new productions are taped off radio broadcasts. Live recordings may not have the best sound quality but they make up for it by capturing the excitement that is missing in a studio recording.

Rhine Maidens

Rhine Maidens

The Solti recording was the first stereo studio recording of the complete Ring Cycle, and it remains popular even today. In a poll on the BBC Radio 3’s long running radio programme CD Review, this set was voted as the greatest recording of the 20th century. Other than studio productions, the Ring Cycle had previously been recorded live in stereo by Decca engineers at the Bayreuth Festival in 1955 under the baton of Joseph Keilberth. Although unavailable for over 50 years, the recording of this cycle has now been made available on CD and DVD by Testament.

First-time buyers looking for a Ring recording are often recommended the Solti. Gramophone, for example, list it as their recommendation on their website. However, when their long-time Wagner critic Alan Blyth reviewed recordings of the Ring for the feature Building a Library on CD Review (then Stereo Review) in 1986, he favoured the Böhm and Furtwängler/RAI recordings. When John Deathridge carried out a follow-up review for the programme in 1992, he favoured parts of the Goodall, Haitink and Boulez cycles for individual operas and Levine overall.

The Ring cycle is also available in a number of video or DVD presentations. These include:

What it boils down to is that there are lots of different recordings available so you should be able to find something that suits your budget and taste. We are gradually listing all of the available recordings on this website with a link to retail outlets where they may be purchased.

Disclaimer: Purchases made via links on this website may result in a commission to the website owner.