OK. promised to post some impressions of this, now my review is in. On the whole it's very good. I don't buy every new recording, but I'd have bought this one, not least for the orchestral playing and the sound -- especially on BluRay. Van Zweden isn't what I'd call a very deep or nuanced conductor, but he has an obvious feeling for the music, and a sense of dramatic sweep which is refreshing after hearing someone like Thielmann, who to my mind gets stodgier all the time -- that Netrebko Lohengrin did not impress me, and still less so that turgid Salzburg Walkure. Van Zweden is fairly fleet-footed without any Boulezian glibness. The orchestra is augmented -- I think by some RSNO players -- and the technical standard and ensemble are impressively high for live performance; I don't believe any corrections were made.
The cast is world-class, quite exceptional for a bargain-to-mid release, and, with one, possibly two exceptions, highly competitive at any price. The first exception is of course Melton, whom I've enjoyed more than once as Sieglinde, and who's been very widely praised; but IMHO Brunnhilde doesn't seem to suit her voice as well. It's a basically attractive tone, fresh and youthful, but the microphone exposes quite noticeable unsteadiness and pitch uncertainty (her last Lachende Tod, for example), and some of her phrasing is peculiarly clumsy -- Ewig war'ich. She isn't intolerable, though -- not nearly as bad as, say, Eva Marton, but not up there with the finest either. Which cannot be said of Simon O'Neill's Siegfried. True, he has moments of arid tone, he isn't ideally expressive in German -- when he explodes about not being able to bear Mime, it falls flat. But this is a bright, ringing, fluent tone with a combination of power and lyrical capacity that makes most contemporary heldentenors sound lumpen. He sounds young in a way that more baritonal heldentenors don't, and less like a thug, but convincingly heroic in the forging scene, for example. That brightness, though, occasionally makes his voice mingle a little closely with David Cangelosi's unusually forceful Mime, who is evidently making an effort to sing the role and not just cackle it. So does Werner van Mechelen's Alberich, but he's not the most convincing embodiment of evil.
The second exception is Falk Struckmann's very leathery, baritonal dragon -- indeed, he's billed as a bass-baritone. He's suitably amplified, though, which compensates for lack of lower-range resonance, and he carries it off with strong characterization, including some laughs and roars more animalistic than most singers risk. Matthias Goerne disappointed me in Rheingold with a rather dull Wotan, but though he also doesn't have quite the best low notes for the Wanderer, his naturally dark voice makes up for it, and the way he infuses the long lines with a distinctive air of sadness and world-weariness. Deborah Humble is a fine Erda, with the right touch of eerieness and not at all grande-dameish. Which leaves Valentina Farcas' Woodbird -- who shapes and paces her trills better than almost any other I've heard, and that includes Te Kanawa and Sutherland, and with clearer diction. I've gone back and listened to her several times now.
So it isn't perfect. No recording ever is, but this, for me, adds up to a really vivid enjoyable performance, in a way that many more illustrious don't. It doesn't take over from the classic recordings, but I would certainly add it to the list.