Wagner’s Ring Continues at the Leipzig Opera House with Siegfried

13/05/2018

Wagner, Siegfried: Soloists of Leipzig Opera, Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra / Ulf Schirmer (conductor), Leipzig Opera House, 12.5.2018. (JMI)

Leipzig Opera’s Siegfried © T. Schulze

Cast:

Siegfried – Christian Franz
Brünnhilde – Katherine Broderick
Wanderer – Iain Paterson
Mime – Dan Karlström
Alberich – Tuomas Pursio
Erda – Claudia Huckle
Fafner – Rúni Brattaberg
Woodbird – Danae Kontora

Production:

Direction – Rosamund Gilmore
Sets – Carl Friedrich Oberle
Costumes – Nicola Reichert
Lighting – Michael Röger
Choreography – Rosamund Gilmore

Compared to the remarkable performances of Das Rheingold and Die Walküre that preceded it, this Siegfried was less satisfying both musically and visually. Once again, the production design and choreography were by Rosamund Gilmore. The stage in Act I contains a hut where Mime lives, which is entered through a metallic upper staircase, and a garden. In the front of the stage there are some props, among them the anvil, but not the forge; Siegfried does not forge Nothung, which is given to him by the dancers. The action takes place, more or less, in modern times.

In Act II, there are two blocks on the sides of the stage joined by a bridge beneath which Fafner’s cave can be found. The death of the dragon seems absurd, since the animal is nothing but a gigantic human-like doll sitting on a sofa with dancers around it – Siegfried doesn’t have to fight hard to kill it. Finally, in the third act, there is a set with ruins for the scenes of Wotan with Erda and Siegfried; and then one with a platform in the middle, where Brünnhilde sleeps (the most convincing set of the production).

Ulf Schirmer’s conducting was less impressive than on the previous days, especially in the first two acts which were rather flat. Things improved immensely in Act III, but one expected more overall. I would again mention the excellent performance from the Gewandhaus Orchestra.

Siegfried was played by veteran tenor Christian Franz, who was not credible as the young Siegfried. He has a strong voice, but there is some tightness at the top. His interpretation was fairly tepid in the first two acts but it improved in the third, especially in Brünnhilde’s awakening scene.

The promising young soprano Elisabet Strid had been announced to play Brünnhilde, and I looked forward to seeing her again after her successful performance in Berlin as Elizabeth in Tannhäuser. She cancelled and was replaced by soprano Katherine Broderick who gave a good performance. Her voice is best in the middle range but somewhat short at the bottom and uncontrolled in the highest notes.

Wotan – now in the character of the Wanderer – was again played by Iain Paterson, but I preferred his performance in Die Walküre the day before. The tessitura of this Wotan is lower than in the previous opera, which worked against him. The fact of singing two days in a row could also have had an influence.

Tenor Dan Karlström did well in the part of Mime; he is a good actor with a voice that is suited to the role. Tuomas Pursio, who sang Wotan in Das Rheingold, was now Alberich, and I found his voice too light for the character, although he did well on stage.

Mezzo-soprano Claudia Huckle made a good Erda, with an attractive and well-managed voice. Rúni Brattaberg was a correct Fafner, and Danae Kontora did nicely as the Woodbird.

José M. Irurzun

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    The tessitura of the Wanderer is considerably higher than either ‘Rheingold’ or ‘Walküre’. Not lower.

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