Sunday, 18 June 2017

Richard Wagner, Der Ring des Nibelungen - Siegfried - Staatstheater Nürnberg

Performance 15th June

As final big trip as reviewer I decided to take the possibility to travel to some of the cities I visited regularly during the last years, but also one last new one. For the first day of my 5 day opera marathon (including 6 opera performances and a panel discussion) I made a stop in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg (Nürnberg) to see their production of Wagner's Siegfried.
The production by Georg Schmidleitner shows an intensive knowledge of the plot and brings a very entertaining, but also sophisticated irony into the evening. Many little ironical details create an interesting fraction between the pathos of Wagner's story and the light-hearted irony of Schmiedleitner's direction. It might not please everyone and may seem offensive and disrespectful to some people, but I thought that it showed a great mind behind the production. The stage by Stefan Brandtmayr also showed some really interesting ideas and especially the second act with the moving street and the decayed surroundings created an intense and exciting atmosphere. Alfred Mayerhofer designed the rather simple and common costumes which supported the story quite well too.
The musical lead of Marcus Bosch was surprisingly strong and he led the Staatsphilharmonie Nürnberg with great understanding of the score. The orchestra did a great job following his lead and played a very clear and accurate rendition of the score. I have to admit that I have never heard the final bars of the first act finale (which are really a challenge for every orchestra) being played so clear and well balanced before. Unfortunately Bosch and the orchestra also tended to be way too loud for much of the whole performance and so very often the structure of the music got lost in the sheer display of power.
Ina Yoshikawa as Waldvöglein gave a solid performance with light lyric soprano voice that could have had a bit more of a clear timbre and more lightness in her phrasing. Nicolai Karnolsky as Fafner was equipped with a microphone to create reverb which made his performance a bit more complicated. For this role I would wish for a more profound and darker bass voice.
As Erda we heard Judith Schmid who has the right timbre for this role. Her creamy mysterious alto voice could be more flexible sometimes and her top was a it shaky, but apart of that she gave a pleasing performance during her scene in act 3.
Martin Winkler sang a very good Alberich with his raw dark voice which suited the character very well. If his diction were a bit clearer he could have been even better, but as I said, he did a great job anyway.
Hans Kittelmann as Mime gave an exceptional performance with a wide spectrum of colours and an excellent understanding of the text. He changed the colour of his voice so intensively depending on the words he sang that he gave a whole new dimension to the role. His light tenor voice might not be the most impressive one, but he showed great intelligence with his interpretation.
The role of Wanderer was sung by Antonio Yang who also filled the role with life and sang it with great passion. His noble baritone voice suited the role wonderfully and apart of some little text mistakes he gave a flawless performance. Of course he might have difficulties in bigger houses, but in that house he definitely gave a marvelous performance.
Rachael Tovey as Brünnhilde was a bit problematic and left me rather disappointed in the end. While having a nice and steady middle register and a good lower register her top is simply not convincing. This might not be a problem for the Walküre Brünnhilde, but in Siegfried it is highly dangerous because the tessitura is significantly higher. Most notes above f felt short or had shaky intonation. However, the real sin of the evening was the fact that she decided to not even attempt the final high c of the love duet. Moments like this are simply not negotionable and simply destroy the structure of the piece!
The hero of the evening was Vincent Wolfsteiner as Siegfried with a voice that really impressed me a lot. His tenor voice combines the power of a Heldentenor with the light and easy top of a Charaktertenor. He is definitely one of the best Siegfrieds I heard so far and was worth the travel. In the end of the evening there seemed to be less brightness in his timbre, but he did not fail to deliver everything until the very last note. Bravo!
Alltogether a pleasing performance with a few deficits, but I enjoyed it and was happy to visit the house for my farewell tour. 8 stars.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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