Friday 1 May 2015

Richard Wagner, Rheingold - Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Herkulessaal

Performance 25th April

Last saturday I witnessed one of the best Musical Performances for quite some time. The concert Performance of Rheingold in the Herkulessaal in Munich was a ravishing experience with a stellar cast which you would never find in a normal opera house.
Sir Simon Rattle conducted the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks with a superior attitude and created magical 2 1/2 hours of thrilling Music. He conducted with such charme, ease and simply beauty that everyone was just blown away by the impact of his interpretation. He seemed to know the score like it was his trousers' pocket and made it sound like music from heaven. He found the perfect balance between delicate gentleness and rousing solemn parts. The orchestra played enormously cleanly and clearly without anything to complain about. Every single musician did a great job during the whole evening and helped to improve the performance even more. Only the really dry acoustics of the hall were a little bit annoying after a while because they did not really flatter the whole tonal quality. Nevertheless the musicians performed on a very high level and made the whole performance an incoparable joy.
As for the soloists they really casted every single role so well that one would wish to have such a cast in a staged performance as well. The Rhinemaidens (Mirella Hagen, Stefanie Irányi & Eva Vogel) had three very different voices from a very light (but still strong) nicely sounding soprano over a powerful light mezzo with erotic timbre to a profound mezzo with a very dark timbre. Their diction was very clear and their voices sounded great together.
Also very powerful and profound were the two giants Fasolt and Fafner, sung by Peter Rose and Eric Halfvarson. While Rose's voice has more lyrical qualities (which fits his role perfectly), Halfvarson's voice is black as night and manages to capture the evilness and corruption of  his character. It was really interesting to see how convincingly they delivered the contrasts of those two brothers.
Christian van Horn as Donner also did a great Job with his heroic baritone voice which sounded as brutal and rough as it should do as thunder god. Sometimes his diction could have been better but he did a fine job anyway. Benjamin Bruns as Froh also was quite fine with a very light but still heroic tenor voice which had a very youthfull timbre.
In the role of Mime we heard Herwig Pecoraro who also has a strong tenor voice with a strong upper register, but it sounds less youthfull but I thought it has a little bit more character in its sound. He was perfectly casted for this role which needs a lot of character in the voice.
This is also valid for the role of Loge which was sung by Burkhard Ulrich. He also has the ability to deliver many different shades of a character just through his voice. He perfectly hit the opportunistic details of his role and gave a wonderful performance.
Tomasz Konieczny also gave a brilliant performance witch his strong baritone voice which has a very dark timbre and the ability to deliver the evil character of Alberich with many different colors. He also acted a lot which totally helped him to make a very convincing portrayal of his role. I thought that his voice suited Alberich perfectly because of its dark and rough sound.
Also equipped with quite some stamina was Michael Volle as Wotan. His baritone voice sounds way more heroic and noble, but also is able to give a very rough impression when needed. He impersonated the egomanic character very well and his singing reflected the evolution of his character impressively.
Annette Dasch had some smaller appearances in the role of Freia which she handled lovely. Her strong soprano with its youthful timbre has quite some power and still does not loose its beautiful sound. Her voice suits the role of the love goddess as well as her beautiful exterior.
Elisabeth Kulman once again blew my mind as Fricka, even though I was more impressed by her Fricka in Walküre. But anyway, her huge mezzo soprano has this very special timbre that is able to make a convincing bickering wife. Her diction is exemplary and one is able to catch every single syllable with great pleasure. I am really pleased that I have been able to see her again.
Finally one of my highlights was Janina Baechle as Erda. With her really short appearance she was still able to capture the whole audience with her strong but still delicate mezzo voice. She was so mysterious and wondrous that one was barely able to breath because of excitement.She sang her phrases incredibly gently and especially her soft pianissimo on the final "Meide den Ring" was exceptional!! Seriously, what a voice!!
In the end I would like to say that this was one of the best performances I ever heard and if it had been a staged production I probably would have had a heart attack due to the excitement. Nevertheless I give the Rheingold concert 9 stars!

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