Wagnerian Treasure

THE RING CYCLE AT THE Metropolitan Opera in New York just ended, but Wagner fans aren't as devastated as usual. Why? It's now possible to have Valhalla on your desktop with the Media Cafe's The Ring Disc, a single CD-ROM containing all 14.5 hours of the four-opera cycle ($99.99; 888-746-4347). On the screen, a running commentary, a piano-vocal score and a German libretto with English translation can appear simultaneously. The late-'60s recording of Sir Georg Solti conducting the Vienna Philharmonic provides rich sound, with glorious singing from such stars as Birgit Nilsson. (A warning: the singers and their roles aren't listed anywhere on the CD, a decision that will perplex most opera lovers.) The database of characters, symbols and leitmotifs is as vast as the search engine is fast. More than 100 essays, most by singer and voice teacher Monte Stone, clarify plots and who's who, but the still-photo images are disappointing - except for a 19th-century Brunnhilde who's shown in a bustle as well as battle armor. Hoyotoho!