Thielemann and a Stellar Cast Triumph in Götterdämmerung

03/11/2017

Wagner, Götterdämmerung: Staatskapelle and Staatsopernchor Dresden / Christian Thielemann (conductor), Semperoper, Dresden, 1.11.2017. (JMI)

Gotterdammerung © K. Gigga

Gotterdammerung © K. Gigga

Cast:
Brünnhilde – Nina Stemme
Siegfried – Andreas Schager
Hagen – Falk Struckmann
Gunther – Iain Paterson
Gutrune – Edith Haller
Waltraute – Christa Mayer
Norns – Okka von der Damerau, Simone Schröder, Christiane Kohl
Woglinde – Christiane Kohl
Wellgunde – Sabrina Kögel
Flosshilde – Simone Schröder

Production:
Director – Willy Decker
Sets – Wolfgang Gussmann
Costumes – Wolfgang Gusmann/Frauke Schernau

The Ring of the Nibelung that Christian Thielemann began two years ago has now reached its culmination. The full Tetralogy will be performed in January and February in one of the hottest events around, as far as ticket sales go. This Twilight of the Gods has been as exceptional as one might expect, especially from the musical point of view: the vocal cast was excellent, as was the conducting.

As are the earlier operas in the Tetralogy, this Willy Decker staging of Götterdämmerung is a co-production with Teatro Real, where it was performed between May 2002 and March 2004. One’s first impression is that it is the best production of the three, although Mr. Decker, faithful to his original idea, cannot resist including in the first and last scenes the theatre seats that seem to obsess him. The scene of the Norns is nicely done, as are the scenes on Brünnhilde’s rock, and the palace of the Gibichungs is attractive.

There seem to be some new twists since Madrid, or at least I did not remember them. In particular, Wotan appears at Siegfried’s death with his broken spear. It is a truly moving moment, one that is repeated during Brünnhilde’s Immolation.

Undoubtedly, the focus of attention was Christian Thielemann on the podium. Although no one questions the musical affinity of Thielemann with this great Wagnerian work, he has not conducted it frequently in recent years – the last time may have been six years ago in Vienna. But it comes as no surprise that his conducting was absolutely brilliant, as so seldom occurs, and it totally met the high expectations of the audience. I found his reading was irreproachable and exciting in Acts I and III, but less so in the second act. In any case, it was spectacular overall. Among the outstanding moments were Siegfried’s funeral, the scene of Waltraute and Brünnhilde, and the Immolation with the final theme of Redemption. The Staatskapelle Dresden proved again that it is one of the best orchestras in the world, and the chorus was also superb.

Brünnhilde was interpreted by none other than Nina Stemme, possibly the best in this role today. Unfortunately, she will not repeat as the daughter of Wotan when Dresden offers the complete Tetralogy in a few months: she will be appearing in Munich as Brünnhilde under the baton of Kirill Petrenko. Her first scene with Siegfried was a bit disappointing (she seemed to be saving her voice), but from the scene with Waltraute on one could completely enjoy her performance. She was truly outstanding in the Immolation Scene.

Siegfried was sung by Andreas Schager; he also performed the role under Daniel Barenboim last year in Berlin. He has a powerful voice, easy at the top, and he solved all the difficulties of the character. Among them is the final narration about the Woodbird, where so many tenors have enormous problems, but that was not the case here. The good news is that in January he will be back in Dresden for the complete Ring.

Falk Struckmann as Hagen was less convincing. In the same way that a tenor does not automatically become a baritone when he loses his top notes, a baritone does not become a bass due to the same loss. Struckmann is not the true bass this role requires; one misses the darker notes.

Baritone Iain Paterson again showed his attractive voice in the part of Gunther, with the usual drawback that his projection is not strong. Edith Haller as Gutrune offered a solid performance, both singing and acting. Her biggest problem lies in high notes, but they are not an issue in this role.

Christa Mayer was an excellent Waltraute. She and Nina Stemme were outstanding in the scene of the meeting of the two sisters. The Norns and the Rhine Daughters were also impressive.

The Semperoper was sold out, and the audience showed their enthusiasm at the final bows, particularly to Christian Thielemann, the Staatskapelle, Nina Stemme and Andreas Schager.

José M. Irurzun

Print Friendly

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Spitalfields Music Festival 2017 in December __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! World Premiere of The Nutcracker and I, by Alexandra Dariescu in December at Milton Court __________________________________
  • NEW! Hampstead Garden Opera Bring The Enchanted Pig to Highgate in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Forthcoming Schubert Song Series in Leeds and Sheffield __________________________________
  • NEW! Svetlana Zakharova and Bolshoi Stars Bring Amore to the London Coliseum in November __________________________________
  • NEW! Tom Green and Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife Premieres on 15 October in Cardiff __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Ballet’s 2017 – 2018 Autumn/Winter Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Contemporary Music from Manchester’s Psappha in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! I Musicanti’s ‘Alexandra and the Russians’ at St Johns Smith Square, 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • NEW! Birmingham and Beyond: Ex Cathedra in 2017/18 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Glyndebourne Opera Cup and Glyndebourne in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! A Composer Speaks Up for the Environment: An Interview with Margaret Brouwer __________________________________
  • NEW! The Generosity of Gwyneth Jones: Her Masterclass at the Royal College of Music __________________________________
  • NEW! Twelve Years of Celebrating Malcolm Arnold in Northampton __________________________________
  • NEW! What is the Critic’s Job? A Review of A. O. Scott’s Recent Book __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival in Yorkshire Lifts the Lid Off an English Treasury __________________________________
  • NEW! A FULLY STAGED PILGRIM’S PROGRESS IN ORLEANS, MA __________________________________
  • NEW! JIŘÍ BĔLOHLÁVEK (1946-2017) AND THE CZECH CONDUCTING LEGACY __________________________________
  • NEW! JUSTIN DOYLE DISCUSSES MONTEVERDI WITH MARK BERRY __________________________________
  • NEW! Katie Lowe Wins the 2017 Elizabeth Connell Prize __________________________________
  • NEW! ITINÉRAIRE BAROQUE 2017: TON KOOPMAN TALKS TO COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House in Mumbai is Restored to its Former Glory __________________________________
  • NEW! iSING! – International Young Artists Festival in Suzhou, China __________________________________
  • NEW! A Riveting Kokoschka’s Doll from Sir John Tomlinson and Counterpoise __________________________________
  • NEW! ANGELA BROWNRIDGE IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H