This 2011 production of Die Walküre comes from Robert Lepage’s production of the Met Opera’s first complete Ring cycle in 20 years, with its notorious multi-million dollar “machine” – a set consisting of 24 independently moving platforms, with additional video projections, that could be raised or lowered to form different scenes. Although the machine caused several mishaps during the production run, and reviewers complained about its noise, none of these flaws are evident on the filmed version and visually it is stunning in places – becoming a tangled forest, a rolling bed of lava, and even the graceful flapping wings of Brünnhilde’s horse. Other complaints about the production were that the machine limited the movement of the singers, resulting in very static staging, that the singers were obviously nervous about it, and that Siegmund and Sieglinde spent most of the first act standing a couple of feet below the apron. These aspects also become less problematic on film, were plenty of camera close-ups and changes of view add variety, although the Act I staging does still look a little odd and there are still one or two nervous wobbles to be seen as the singers navigate the machine.

The small cast is made up of experienced Wagner singers and some newcomers. Jonas Kaufmann smoulders his way through the role of Siegmund, with warm, honeyed singing with musical passion to match his looks – it didn’t matter that his acting was a little wooden. Eva Maria Westbroek making her Met debut as Sieglinde is beautifully well-matched to Kaufmann, and with them both kitted out with luxuriant pre-Raphaelite hair, it’s easy to believe that they’re twins. Ms Westbroek allows Sieglinde’s character to grow, from put-upon bullied housewife, girlishly eager to please her handsome guest, to the serene purity of the idealised mother-figure, the woman who will bear the great saviour.

Bryn Terfel is a magnificent Wotan, terrifying in his blustering rage, and touchingly bewildered as his wife and daughter run rings around him, and finally at the end, tragically stubborn. Stephanie Blythe’s Fricka is an imperious battleaxe, treating Wotan like a wayward child, her terrifying demeanour only enhanced by glorious singing. The weaker point is Deborah Voigt, singing Brünnhilde for the first time; her voice was clean and bright, but it lacked power, and although her flirtatious simpering manner worked well in Act II, it never went away, and so did not match up to Mr Terfel’s very moving performance of the final scene when Wotan condemns Brünnhilde to her fiery sleep. This production film includes some nice shots of James Levine’s distinctive conducting style. The Met Orchestra switch nimbly between the characters’ emotions, giving wonderful support to the acting and the narrative.

This production certainly enraged the critics, but for anyone who doesn’t have ready live access to singers of this calibre, and for newcomers to the Ring, it is well worth seeing.