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Monte Stone's Interactive Guide to Wagner's Ring

THE RING DISC is a musical pointer to the developing educational possibilities of advanced computer technology. The advances in compression techniques have enabled presentation of the entire Ring des Nibelüngen, with a plethora or interactive CD-ROM extras, on a single disc. Until fairly recently, the elements packed into THE RING DISC would have required 14 CD-ROMs; now everything is on a single disc - a DVD version is in preparation. Monte Stone chose for his project the historic 1960s Solti/Culshaw Decca recording, itself a landmark in state of the art LP recording. It is cast with the great Wagner singers of the time, and in smaller parts many famous singers of the future. Speedy navigation and sound quality (very satisfactory via my computer's Harman/Kardon speakers and subwoofer) are nicely balanced.

THE RING DISC starts automatically and works smoothly, with instantaneous switching between viewing options. The basic presentation has the score and bilingual text moving with the music the important motifs pointed out as you listen. To know more, you click on the motif and the music pauses whilst you read about it. The menu offers plot synopses, a list of motifs and character explanations, as well as the piano-vocal score and German libretto with English translation.

Each Act's synopsis includes numerous links to the characters and leitmotifs appearing scene by scene. Expert Wagnerites will enjoy tracing the development of the motifs in their new contexts throughout all four operas. I hope Mr Stone will include the Decca cast list in his DVD, so that you can easily remind yourself who is singing at any moment. But beware of becoming hooked on The Ring and The Ring Disc.

Monte Stone's creation, which can be pre-viewed at http://www.ringdisc.com and purchased for c.$100, is seriously addictive!

Monte Stone at work

© Peter Grahame Woolf