Music: Primal, Powerful and Popular: DIE WALKURE

A splendid DIE WALKURE begins the Met's new Ring cycle

Since its first performance more than a century ago, Richard Wagner's four- evening cycle of mythological music drama, Der Ring des Nibelungen, has been regarded as the Mount Everest of music, a daunting work that remains the ultimate test of operatic mettle. Despite its imposing demands, the Ring has been scaled repeatedly in the past four years -- at Bayreuth, San Francisco and Seattle, among other places. Last week the Metropolitan Opera took up the challenge, opening its 103rd season with a production of Die Walkure, the first installment of a new Ring.

It is long overdue. The last Met Ring...

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