Saturday 30 May 2015

Richard Wagner, Siegfried - Oper Leipzig

Performance 30th May

Day 2 of my marathon was celebrated with day 2 of the ring cycle: Siegfried. The new production, which premiered last month, is also directed by Rosamund Gilmore with staging and costumes by Carl Friedrich Oberle and Nicola Reichert.They went on with their concept and so Siegfried had several similarities with Walküre in terms of style and directions. Very annoying: the dancers were also back again. Still it seemed to work better, especially because of the great acting skills of some soloists, but more about later...
Ulf Schirmer and the Gewandhausorchester once again did a good job although there could have been more action in the orchestra. I was missing this very special thrill that comes up when everything fits together. There were no mistakes or anything like that, but it just did not groove (if I can say that).
The lovely role of the Waldvogel, the little bird in the woods, was performed by Eun Yee You who sang it with great ease and agility. Her light voice just sounded great and really made me think of a bird.
On the other side of the voval range was Rúni Brattaberg as Fafner. This role suited him way better than Hunding and he was very convincing as huge sleepy giant. What a pity that Fafner dies so early and could not sing more.
Alberich, who was sung by Jochen Schmeckenbecher, also just had a small appearance but showed that he does not need more to show that he is a great Alberich. His diction was really fine and also his timbre just suited the role perfectly. I always think it is quite interesting how different the voices of Wotan and Alberich sound although it is the same voice type (more or less).
In the role of Mime we heard Dan Karlström who also has the right voice for his role. His light tenor voice has the necessary clarity and this very distinctive timbre that this role calls for. He did a wonderful job especially during his last scene with a lot of fun and good acting.
Swedish singer John Lundgren gave a marvelously mighty Wanderer (Wotan) with such a noble and strong timbre that it was totally understandable that this man is a god. Only the upper parts of the role seemed to bring him to his limits, although he did not have any problems with it. He just did not seem totally comfortable in this part of his range.
My personal highlight of the evening was Nicole Piccolomini as Erda. What a voice!! Such a warm timbre and then this magnificent stamina. Also her transitions were just exemplary and her whole performance was just a huge pleasure. This truely is how Erda should sound like! What a pity that she also does not have a lot to sing in this opera.
But now to the two main protagonists of the evening: Christian Franz gave a wonderful Siegfried with a very strong voice and enough stamina to get through the role. Sure some notes did not come that easily but everyone knows that Siegfried is a voice-cracking role to sing and I actually I have to say I am not the biggest fan of it. Nevertheless Franz gave a marvelous performance and helped to make Siegfried seem less like a total douchebag with his great acting skills. Just towards the end he seemed to reach a point of exhaustion but managed to maintain his level to the very end. I think it is always hard for a Siegfried to catch up with a Brünnhilde who just woke up and did not have to sing the last two hours.
This productions Brünnhilde was swedish soprano Elisabet Strid who definitely has the power to sing it. Her voice is quite ideal for this role for it still has the lyric qualities and beauty of tone, but at the same time the power and dramatic ability to perform it appropriately. The only deficit I can think about is that she tends to loose her steadiness during longer high notes (like the final high c). She held those notes quite long (compared to other, more dramatic Brünnhildes) but had some issues to keep them steady and straight. Still her portrayal was marvelous and she really is a convincing Brünnhilde throughout the whole climax.
The third opera of Leipzig's Ring is quite a success with small deficits which can not prevent a great performance. Therefore I give 8 stars.

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