Formidable Conductor, Kirill Petrenko, Even Better in Die Walküre

GermanyGermany Wagner: Die Walküre, Bayerisches Staatsorchester, Kirill Petrenko (conductor),  Nationaltheater, Munich, 28.2.2015 (JMI)Walkure-500

Brünnhilde: Evelyn Herlitzius
Wotan: Thomas J. Mayer
Sieglinde: Anja Kampe
Siegmund: Klaus Florian Vogt
Fricka: Elisabeth Kulman
Hunding: Günther Groisböck
Gerhilde: Karen Foster
Helmwige: Susan Foster
Ortlinde: Anna Gabler
Wltraute: Heike Grötzinger
Grimgerde: Okka von der Demerau
Siegrune: Roswitha C. Müller
Rossweisse: Alexandra Petersamer
Schwertleite: Nadine Weissmann


Bayerische Staatsoper
Director: Andreas Kriegenburg
Sets: Harald B. Thor
Costumes: Andrea Schraad
Lighting: Stefan Bolliger
Choreography: Zenta Haerter


 I have no doubt that the main role in the Wagnerian tetralogy belongs to the musical director and the orchestra. I’m not trying to minimize the importance of the singers and stage director, but when you meet an exceptional conductor, things take on a different perspective.

 This is precisely what has happened in this Ring, which has been a true pleasure for any music lover: if Kirill Petrenko’s Rheingold was formidable, his Walküre surpassed it. I have no doubt that he can enter the Olympus of great Wagnerian conductors. With respect to other conductors and their followers, only Christian Thielemann is able to offer as deep and bright an interpretation as Petrenko. Everything was in place, with plenty of emotion, especially in the “Leb wohl” and in the announcement of Siegmund’s death, which Petrenko conducted with exquisite care. His tempi were once again quite lively (in fact, 27 minutes faster than Kent Nagano three years ago). Today the Bayerisches Staatsorchester is one of the world’s greatest orchestras, and Petrenko’s work with his musicians is worthy of high praise. What a great Walküre musically!

 The cast choices here are debatable as far as the adequacy of the singers to the demands of the characters, but the bottom line was positive. Brünnhilde was played by Evelyn Herlitzius with her usual intensity. One can argue about certain aspects of her voice, but this artist is always fully convincing. I remember her having more vocal freshness but not more intensity in her interpretation.

 Thomas J. Mayer sang Wotan once again, and his performance was better than I expected. He is a very reliable interpreter of the god of Walhalla, easier at the top than at the bottom. There is a certain monotony in his singing, and I was surprised that he brought more emotion to his “Leb wohl” than I had anticipated.

 Anja Kampe was a remarkable Sieglinde, both as actor and singer. This artist has always been a great interpreter, which on more than one occasion has made her somewhat uncontrolled in her singing. However, this time things worked out really well.

 Klaus Florian Vogt was Siegmund, as in the staging of three years ago (which also featured Anja Kampe), and his suitability to the role is debatable. His whitish voice does not suit a hero like Siegmund, and one cannot but feel uncomfortable when he starts singing because his timbre is far from what we identify with the character. However, one gets used to his voice, and there is no question of his capacity as singer and performer.

 Elisabeth Kulman was an excellent Fricka in her confrontation with her husband in the great scene of Act II.

 Another point of discussion is the presence of Günther Groissböck as Hunding. This evil character requires a deep bass such as Hans-Peter König or Eric Halfvarson, while Groissböck is a bass-baritone. Typically, Fafner from Das Rheingold, not Fasolt, takes the part of Hunding.

The staging is a revival of Andreas Kriegenburg’s production, and it is far less interesting than that of Rheingold. Here is what I wrote three years ago.

 Once again, the house was sold out, and the audience was enthusiastic, cheering the  singers and Kirill Petrenko and his orchestra.

 José Mª Irurzun

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