Monday, 17 August 2015

Richard Wagner, Siegfried - Bayreuther Festspiele

Performance 5th August

My first visit to Bayreuth this year was for the notorious Castorf Ring. Much has been written about the scandalous production so I wanted to make my own opinion of it. After having seen it I have to admit that it is probably the most extraordinary crap I ever had to watch. There is barely any sense in the whole production and if Frank Castorf does not know what to do he just let's someone through around waste and other stuff. The production is not just banal and trivial but really annoying and disturbing. Even though the staging (Aleksandar Denić) and the costumes (Adriana Braga Peretzki) mostly looked fine they could not help the disastrous scenery that Castorf created.
At least musically it was a very satisfying performance. Kirill Petrenko and the Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele gave a brilliant performance with great dynamic contrasts. I personally think that the special Bayreuth acoustics can be quite treacherous during very acentuated parts but Petrenko managed to create a very clean and acurate interpretation.
Vocally the singers mostly gave solid performances. Mirella Hagen was a lovely Waldvogel with a clear light soprano voice and great ease. Also her costume just looked wonderfully (probably the best thing about the whole production optically).
Andreas Conrad gave a very deceitful bickering Mime with a very characteristic and distinct timbre. I thought that his portrayal was very appropriate and convincing.
As Fafner Andreas Hörl gave a solid performance. Even though he did not have any support to make his voice sound more like a dragon he knew how to make an impression with his strong and profound bass voice.
Albert Dohmen's Alberich was clearly not an ideal casting for this role. He sounded very innaccurate and his diction was not really good. His whole performance sounded quite rough. Maybe it is a matter of taste but I did not really like it.
Nadine Weissmann convinced as Erda with a very warm and dark alto voice. She sounded really mysterious and gave a great impression during her short appearance. Her voice definitely suits the role perfectly with its very profound and calm timbre.
In the role of the Wanderer Wolfgang Koch seemed not to be the ideal casting choice. He definitely can sing the role without any issues but it does not feel totally appropriate. I think his voice is just not dramatic enough for this part. He very often seemed a little bit boring in his scenes. I really do like his voice because it is strong and has a beautiful warm timbre but I think this role is not really good for his voice.
Catherine Foster as Brünnhilde also has just a small appearance in the final scene but totally nailed it. In contrast to many other Brünnhildes Foster still has very lyric qualities and knows how to use them appropriately. But she also has enough power to stand against the huge orchestra without any problems. Also her high notes are very strong and not too short. Only her upper passagio seems to be her weak point because she sometimes seems to have intonation issues in this area. But except of a few flat notes her performance was really nice.
Stefan Vinke who is the new Siegfried in Bayreuth made a triumphal debut and showed that there still are people left who are able to sing this role appropriately. His voice is really strong and almost never seemed strained. With great ease and agility he already convinced me so much during the second act that I thought he could not maintain this level but he did. Until the very ending he managed to gave a magnificent performance. Bravo!
Overall my impression of Bayreuth's Siegfried was very devided. The production is just total nonsense but the singing was good. So my decision is to give Siegfried 8 stars (even though the production would deserve to get none).

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