Saturday, 30 May 2015

Richard Wagner, Die Walküre - Oper Leipzig

Performance 29th May

As first part of my opera marathon during the Wagnerfesttage in Leipzig I heard the second opera of Wagner's Ring, which I already saw here in 2013. Nevertheless I had to see it again because I just thought it was magnificent last time.
This time the whole ensemble seemed some kind of stressed and very often I had the feeling that the necessary calmness for such a difficult piece was not there. It was still a very good performance but I do have to admit that I expected a little bit more yesterday.
The production of Rosamund Gilmore sometimes feels like a bad movie, although staging and costumes (Carl Friedrich Oberle & Nicola Reichert) were really great and looked very nice together.Gilmore's direction was not really that well and especially the several dancers during some of the scenes were actually quite annoying (which obviously is not just my opinion). I thought it was just totally unnecessary and did not support the plot at any moment. So why?
Musically Ulf Schirmer and the Gewandhausorchester had quite a rush throughout the evening. I always had the feeling he is stressed because the tempi always seemed to be a little bit too fast. Moreover I think the interpretation lacked a little bit of strong accentuation which I think is very important for performing Wagner. Nevertheless I still liked the performance anyway, but there would still be space for improvement.
First of all: the valkyries (Marika Schönberg, Magdalena Hinterdobler, Monica Mascus, Susanne Gritschneder, Josephine Weber, Jean Broekhuizen, Karin Lovelius & Anja Jung) were quite nice and made the beginning of the third act really enjoyable. Some of their voices were stronger than others but the overall impression was positive and appropriate.
Rúni Brattaberg as Hunding was not really the perfect casting because he seemed to have some issues with the role and I thought he was not really convincing as evil and brutal husband. His performance was okay but not really more.
Iain Paterson as Wotan was better but also not the ideal decision for this role. He sometimes had some issues with being covered by the orchestra and seemed to reach his limits everynow and then. He still managed to perform the role without problems but I think he is not really the best choice for this role.
As Fricka I heard Kathrin Göring once again, who I still remember from last tim. She has a really great strong voice and exemplary diction. She was a great highlight of the second act with her marvelous portrayal of the jealously nagging wife. Besides, she looked so marvelously in her elegant costume that one would really think twice about starting an argue with her.
Also from the cast of 2013 was Guy Mannheim as Siegmund who seemed quite strained yesterday. Even though he has an appropriate voice for the role he did not feel totally comfortable in this performance. Especially his upper register sounded a little bit chipped. Nevertheless he gave me chills during his Wälse shouts. The first one was normal, but the second one seemed to go on forever!! Incredible!
Also incredible was Christiane Libor as Sieglinde, a role that fits her voice perfectly. She also seemed quite stressed yesterday but was able to maintain a high level throughout the whole evening. Her gleaming upper register and her great ability to change from pp to ff within a single phrase are just magnificent. This really is what a wagnerian soprano should sound like!
Someone who also has a nice wagnerian soprano voice is Irene Theorin who sang the role of Brünnhilde. I just saw her two weeks ago as Elektra in Munich and I have to say: she knows how to use her instrument. She sounded very well with great stamina and a very fresh timbre which really surprised me because I just knew her Elektra which does not sound that fresh. So she is really able to change her timbre distinctly depending on the role she sings. She did a great job with a strong voice throughout her whole register and the ability to also show the lyrical aspects of the role as well as the highly dramatic ones.
This Walküre gets 8 stars, but could have had 9 with a little bit more tranquility in the performance.

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