For his Musik Drama, Richard Wagner had made it clear with his directives that more important than the singing was the acting component. Wagner was concerned entirely with the outline of his musical leitmotifs that are woven in the fabric of this music drama. An Introduction to the Ring, the beautiful white box set presented by Derryck Cooke, still stays in my mind as the ideal introduction set for anyone visiting the Nibelungen Ring Drama for the first time. Cooke collaborated with Sir Georg Solti and the Vienna Philharmonic. These recordings were engineered by Mr. Culshaw between 1958 and 1965. This is exemplified by this astounding opening to the Drama, the Prelude to Das Rheingold.
Das Rheingold has to be one of the most famous of Solti's recordings. I have heard many Rheingolds in the past thirty eight years from Masters like Furtwangler, Levine, Karajan, Boulez and Maazel. They do not come even close to Solti. Solti and Decca have created a miracle. The `Gramophone' magazine has voted it in 1997 as the greatest opera recording ever made. I will agree with it. This 1983 performance with the Bayreuth Festpielhaus does not have that same depth as the Vienna one but it is still way ahead of others.