Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Richard Wagner, Die Walküre - Linzer Musiktheater

Performance 14th June

After the start of the RING with Rheingold Linz continues with the second evening of Wagner's opus magnum: Die Walküre.
Maybe the best known one of the for operas, Walküre features 3 acts of incredible music including the first act's scenes with the human silblings Siegmund and Sieglinde, the ride of the Valkyries and the fire magic in the 3rd act.
The production of Uwe Eric Laufenberg  (staging: Gisbert Jäkel, costumes: Antje Sternberg) shows a very reasonable and understandable interpretation of the plot which is transferred into the German countryside. It features Wotan as military commander and Sieglinde as waitress in a tavern. The aestetics of the set are satisfactory and support the plot adequately. During the ride of the valkyries a horse does some circles on the stage while the riding valkyrie is throwing around corpse parts. The production might not be the most sophisticated one but pleases with a nice overall impression.
Dennis Russell Davies conducts the Bruckner Orchester Linz with a very academic almost boring attitude and keeps the volume-level quite low (unfortunately also during the big outbreaks without singing). His conducting is not totally bad but leaves more dramatic excitement and dynamical contrast to be desired. The orchestral part sounds like driving a car with tightened breaks.
The vocal ensemble is good but not more. Most solists are able to perform the roles solidly but make the impression that they're not totally in their element. In total the singers are quite good for a production of a "small" opera company and delivered a solid performance.
Michael Bedjai sings a Siegmund who is able to prove himself against the big orchestra but is also able to sing lyric passages. His "Wälse"-shouts in the first act are long and strong and show enormous dramatic potential. A little deficit are his partly too strong portamenti which can be annoying on time.
Sonja Gornik also gives a good performance as Siegmund's sister Sieglinde. She knows how to use her strong and pure soprano in a very smart and convincing way. Only the sound sometimes seems a little bit slim (although her stamina is good) and could be a little bit warmer and velvet-like. She delivers the tragic figure of Sieglinde very appropriatly and gives a shy but emphatic portrait of the role.
Dominik Nekel is a good Hunding who has a good deep register that could be a little bit darker. Nevertheless he sang the role very convincing and showed good acting skills.
The production's Wotan, Gerd Grochowski, has a strong bariton voice with a very clear upper register and sings the role without any difficulties. His articulation leaves no wishes and the timbre reminds of a lighter version of Hans Hotter. Weather Wotan is angry, desperate or happy, Grochowski always finds the appropriate sound for the different situations and portrays the god very adequately.
Fricka, sung by Karen Robertson, is confronted with problems that already appeared in the performances of Rheingold. Robertson's voice lacks the necessary stamina although her interpretation shows very smart dramatic abilities. If her voice was just a little stronger with a darker timbre she would be a astonishing Fricka. Nevertheless her portrait is steady and not too bad.
Elena Nebera, the woman of the evening, gives an acceptable performance as Brünnhilde although she had serious text issues which gave a blurry impression. Her voice has a good upper register and a very dark (almost mezzo-like) lower and middle register. Unfortunately she makes the impression that she doesn't know exactly what she is singing. Her acting skills are quite one dimensional and not really convincing. Moreover the musical articulation could be more exciting and more precise.
The valkyries feature some very impressing and some less impressing singers but give an overall good performance in the end.
Finally the production is recommendable as long as you're not expecting a 1st class performance. It might have some small deficits but doesn't show big shortcomings.
I would give the production steady 6 stars out of 10.

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