Sunday, May 10, 2009


Loge's fire and the Rhine's waters ended the world and the Schenck/Schneider-Siemssen RING last night in fine style.

Linda Watson's wobble was gone. Instead, she simply shone as Brünnhilde. Is she Flagstad? No, but she's a keeper, if she keeps on like this. Likewise Jon Fredric West, who showed not a trace of the too-common diminution of voice in the Act III narrative, and who even sang with some soft sadness -- within the limits of his instrument, which tends towards the fortissimo-only setting -- in the death scene.

Margaret Jane Wray, from whom your reporter saw an effective Ortrud three years ago, was radiant as Gutrune. Great things coming here. Our Gunther was Iain Peterson, who showed an impressive baritone voice, while his bio shows confusion as to whether he's a baritone or a bass. Pick baritone and stick with it, I'd say. Fwiw, in an effort to strengthen the weak character of the Gibichung chieftain, he did the DFD bellow on "greife dich immer," leading to a well-staged fight with Hagen -- Sir John Tomlinson, practically perfect in every way.

Richard Paul Fink made the most of this opera's short but important Alberich scene -- and once again did his little curtain-call dance as he took his solo bow at the end of the Act II. Another audience favorite. Has anyone noticed that in this production, Alberich's cape, already seen in RHEINGOLD, has grown to regal proportions in GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG? Bravo, Mr. Langenfass!

Norns: the First doubled the Erda of earlier evenings, as is traditional, and had an acceptable exponent in Wendy White. Numbers Two and Three did not, however, double Waltraute and Gutrune, respectively. The Second Norn was sung respectably by Elizabeth Bishop, and the first evening's Freia, Wendy Bryn Harmer, had a true star turn as the Third Norn. Later, Yvonne Naef worked her now-familiar magic as Waltraute, setting aside Fricka's hauteur for the Valkyrie's despondent humility, but with the same plangent mezzo sound.

Last Monday's Rhinemaidens -- Lisette Oropesa, Kate Lindsey, and Tamara Mumford -- returned, popping up downstage with a pert ta-daaa gesture and familiar fine voices: a fitting light opening for the act the ends the world.

A few advantages of seeing this spectacular production from the Family Circle: though you miss the Rainbow Bridge in RHEINGOLD, you see the River Rhine at certain points in GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG where I'm sure you can't see it from "better" seats; e.g., off to the right in Act II, and off to the left and upstage in Act III Scene I (except for the little downstage estuary in which the Rhinemaidens cavort).

Günther Schneider-Siemssen took a bow with Levine. [EDITED TO ADD: But see comments infra. Seems I was wrong about who was taking that bow, but I stand by the remarks that now follow.] He deserves to: not only for this production's set designs -- though that would be enough -- but also: how many designers have done back-to-back RINGs, at the Met or anywhere? Yes, GSS was the set designer of the previous RING as well, the so-called "Karajan RING." He is diversely talented. Since 1967, when the Karajan WALKURE premiered at the Met, no other designer has done a RING opera at the Met (except for visitors from outer space like the Kirov in '07). That's 42 years, and counting until the proposed opening of the LePage production in 2012....

Will the LePage production be the good kind of modern production, as opposed to, you know, the sucky kind? Will there even be a LePage production after all, or will this one live again? Will it be stored and be seen in the future? Singe, Schwester, dir werf ich's zu: weisst du, wie das wird?


falparsi said...

Hi. Enjoy your blog. Actually, Schneider-Siemmsen was not present Saturday night. He is quite ill and cannot travel from Vienna. However, Levine brought out the chorus master for a bow, and the audience thought he was Schenk! See Times review for more.

I've heard Watson several times at Bayreuth and she had more focus and thrust at the Met - acoustics? better health?

David Wagner said...

Interesting! He looked a lot more like more like GSS -- owlish, you know, but with hair -- than like Schenck, who is bald.

I hope for the best from Watson. Maybe Janice Baird is the likeliest "Next Nilsson" (I haven't heard her yet), but the world needs more than one Brunnhilde at a time, and Watson certainly gets the job done.

David Wagner said...

P.S. I love your handle, "Falparsi"!