End of the Ring Cycle: A Götterdämmerung of Mixed Quality

SpainSpain Wagner: Götterdämmerung, Seville Symphony Orchestra, Chorus Maestranza, Pedro Halffter (conductor), Teatro de la Maestranza, Seville, 20.6.2014 (JMI)

Götterdämmerung, in Seville
Götterdämmerung, in Seville

 

Cast:
Brünnhilde: Linda Watson
Siegfried: Stefan Vinke
Hagen: Christian Hübner
Gunther: Martin Gantner
Gutrune/Third Norne: Sandra Trattnigg
Waltraute/Second Norne: Elena Zhidkova
Alberich: Peter Sidhom
First Norne: Elena Zaremba
Woglinde: Mercedes Arcuri
Wellgunde: Alexandra Rivas
Flossihilde: Anja Schlosser

 

Co-production: Valencia’s Palau de Les Arts and Maggio Musicale Fiorentino
Direction: La Fura dels Baus/Carlus Padrissa (original)
Alejandro Stadler (revival)
Sets: Roland Olbeter
Costumes: Chu Uroz
Lighting: Peter van Praet
Videos: Franc Aleu

 

The Ring of the Nibelung in Seville has ended with a successful Götterdämmerung, albeit not a memorable one. It featured a brilliant yet superficial stage production, a sound musical reading and a respectable cast.

Carlus Padrissa’s staging made good use of video projections, some of them spectacular. At times I had the impression that La Fura dels Baus abhor a vacuum and cannot accept the presence of a singer on stage without something else happening. This has been common throughout the Tetralogy, but it was particularly exaggerated this time. The video projections were beautiful but many times served only to distract the audience’s attention.

There were some excellent scenes, such as Siegfried’s funeral (the corpse was paraded on shoulders through the stalls) and Brünnhilde’s immolation, but others were not convincing. I didn’t like the idea of Alberich addressing Hagen from a crane accompanied by multiple video projections. And although it is a matter of personal taste, I prefer the voyage of Siegfried through the Rhine with the curtain closed, not with the hero in a boat riding above the members of La Fura dels Baus. I think the work of La Fura is imaginative, modern and bright, but an excess of projections and ideas is not always a guarantee of success: it doesn’t help one enjoy the wonderful music that Wagner wrote.

Pedro Halffter’s reading was reliable, quite good at times but somewhat soft here and there. Although it was not what one might call a musical monument, in general I did enjoy his conducting. He was at his best in the last act, but what he offered in the previous two was somewhat uneven. I missed more brilliance in the voyage of Siegfried through the Rhine; the encounter of Waltraute and Brünnhilde was short on emotion; and there was a certain lack of mystery in the scene of  Alberich and Hagen. However, despite its ups and downs, I think the final balance was right and the orchestra performed well, except for the horns.

Leading the cast as Brünnhilde was Linda Watson who is known to opera goers from her many years as a Wagner heroine. She has enough power to overcome the difficulties of the character, although I missed larger doses of vulnerability and emotion in her interpretation.

Something similar happened with tenor Stefan Vinke as Siegfried. His voice is right for the character, with enough power through the tessitura, but it is not too attractive, and he lacks nuance in his singing. There’s no question that finding a tenor who can overcome the difficulties of Siegfried is not easy.

Hagen is a key character in The Twilight of the Gods, and the part requires an excellent singer with a real bass. Christian Hübner did not offer much except quantity. His Hagen was vociferous from start to finish which resulted in a  monotonous, coarse and dull performance.

There was a fine performance by Martin Gantner as Gunther; he is always a guarantee in these characters. Soprano Sandra Trattnigg as Gutrune left a positive impression. She also doubled as the Third Norne.

Russian mezzo soprano Elena Zhidkova was a true luxury as Waltraute and even more as the second Norne. Peter Sidhom was Alberich, and I remember his voice being in better shape not too long ago.

The presence of Elena Zaremba as First Norne was surprising, and she was quite good. Finally, the Daughters of the Rhine were also satisfying.

José Mª Irurzun  

 

1 thought on “End of the Ring Cycle: A <i>Götterdämmerung</i> of Mixed Quality”

  1. We have been in this performance and we also liked all the singers and the production very much!
    The visuals were fantastic, it was almost like sitting in a modern 3D cinema!

    (By the way, there was a short announcement, that the singer of Hagen (Christian Hübner) was struggling with an inflammation).

    We hope, they do more Wagner in the future there! Great theatre and great city!!

    Reply

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