Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Richard Wagner, Die Walküre - Bayerische Staatsoper München

Performance 14th March

Last weekend I had the pleasure to see the second part of Wagner's Ring in Munich with a quite incredible cast. Kirill Petrenko conducted the orchestra of the Bavarian state opera and achieved spellbounding performance of this wonderful work. He and the orchestra were able to show the many different details in the ravishing score really appropriately and capture one's attention from the first note to the very last one. The whole orchestral performance was almost perfect and incredibly differenciated, simply delightful!
The production of Andreas Kriegenburg (stage: Harald B. Thor, costumes: Andrea Schraad) was quite interesting in general, but also had some weak moments (especially the genuinely annoying ballet scene right before the third act!!!). I thought there were some really nice ideas and was satisfied overall, even with the weaker scenes. I really liked the second act with its minimalistic staging (a lovely contrast to stages where you can't see the floor anymore, because there is so much stuff on it).
Another highlight were the Valkyries: Susan Foster, Karen Foster, Golda Schultz, Heike Grötzinger, Okka von der Damerau, Roswitha C. Müller, Alexandra Petersamer & Nadine Weissmann. I never heard such a great bunch of them. All of them had really wonderful big voices with a spotless range from the bottom for the mezzos (and contraltos) to the high c's at the very top of the sopranos. I was really excited by the wonderful singing during the Valkyrie scene in the third act.
Also Günther Groissböck as Hunding was really great to listen to and watch. He gave a wonderful portrayal with a lot of aggression and danger in his performance. His profound voice and his huge physical appearance fit the role of Hunding exceptionally and his overall performance was genuinely impressive.
Thomas J. Mayer sang the role of Wotan and showed that he is one of the greatest performers of this role at the moment. He was able to give his role every single shade of fear, anger and authority that it calls for. He managed his part really classy and did not seem to be tired at any moment at all.
Not so with the main protagonist, Evelyn Herlitzius as Brünnhilde. Herlitzius teached me this evening that there very well is a difference between pitched screaming and singing. She seemed strained and not comfortable throughout the whole performance. Even though she might have a powerful instrument, it seems to be past its zenith...and that for quite some time! Also her phrasing is really a thing to get used to! I really have to say, that her performance is an unmatched dissappointment overall.
Way better I liked Christopher Ventris and Anja Kampe as the twin pair Siegmund and Sieglinde. Ventris is the ideal Siegmund with a strong heroic tenor voice which is capable of portraying this very unlucky character with all his ecstasy and misfortune. If only he held his higher notes for a little bit longer it would have been a performance not from this world! Also Kampe is quite an event in this role. She has a powerful but yet very lyric voice with a really distinctive lower register and exceptional stamina in all registers. Sometimes she seems a little bit uncomfortable in the higher passages but overall her performance was really outstanding.
But the true highlight of the whole evening was Elisabeth Kulman's Fricka. What a extraordinary voice!! I have never seen someone sing so intensively and dramatically without seeming strained. She filled the whole auditorium to the very last row with such ease that everyone was just blown away by her incredibly dramatic performance. Her singing and acting were just not from this planet. It seems like Kulman was born to sing Wagner and she is probably one of the best singers of her Fach since Christa Ludwig!!
Overall the performance was really breathtaking and I wish I could have just pressed the replay button!
Therefore I give the performance 9 stars.

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