Triumphant Reception Ends Das Rheingold

GermanyGermany Wagner: Das Rheingold, Bayerisches Staatsorchester, Kirill Petrenko (conductor), Nationaltheater, Munich, 27.2.2015 (JMI)

Copyright: Wilfried Hösl
Copyright: Wilfried Hösl

Wotan: Thomas J. Mayer
Alberich: Tomasz Konieczny
Loge: Burkhard Ulrich
Fricka: Elisabeth Kulman
Fasolt: Günther Groissböck
Fafner: Christof Fischesser
Erda: Okka Von Der Demerau
Mime: Andreas Conrad
Freia: Aga Mikolaj
Donner: Levente Molnar
Froh: Dean Power
Woglinde: Hanna-Elisabeth Müller
Wellgunde: Jennifer Johnston
Flosshilde: Nadine Weissmann


Production: Bayerische Staatsoper
Direction: Andreas Kriegenburg
Sets: Harald B. Thor
Costumes: Andrea Schraad
Lighting: Stefan Bolliger
Choreogrphy: Zenta Haerter

 The Wagner tetralogy has begun in Munich under Kirill Petrenko, and I think it makes sense to write first of all about his musical direction. Petrenko’s conducting has exceeded all my expectations, and they were very high indeed. Undoubtedly he knows the score inside out, and he conducted it with astonishing ease.

In 2007, I heard Pierre Boulez do Parsifal, and his direction seemed magical to me. I realized afterwards that it was the fastest Parsifal I had ever experienced. Something similar happened with this Rheingold, one of the most rapid performances that I can remember: Petrenko’s version was sixteen minutes faster than Kent Nagano’s in the same house. Rarely have I seen a Rheingold that ran under two and a half hours. In any case, it was outstanding conducting, which makes my expectations for the entire Ring even greater. The Bayerisches Staatorchester was magnificent. It has always been an excellent orchestra, but I find it even better now under Kirill Petrenko.

Wotan was played by Thomas Johannes Mayer. He is a reliable, though not truly exceptional, baritone, and I found him easier at the top than at the bottom of the tessitura. I question how he’ll express the necessary emotion in Die Walküre.

The best performance came from baritone Tomasz Konieczny in the part of Alberich. He also sang Alberich in this theatre under the direction of Kent Nagano, and the difference is remarkable. I have sometimes been disappointed with this artist when he sings the Italian repertoire, whereas here everything worked. He had power, expressiveness and enough evil to be almost the ideal Alberich.

On that previous occasion in Munich, Stefan Margita did a fantastic job as Loge. This time Burkhard Ulrich was Loge and his performance was good, but it could not make me forget Mr. Margita. I found Mr. Ulrich well suited to the role in every way, but I had the impression that he reached the end of the opera a little tired.

Elisabeth Kulman is always a guarantee in any character she sings, and Fricka was no exception. She has an attractive voice, and she gives meaning to the words

The Giants were much better this time than in the earlier staging. Both Günther Groissböck (Fasolt) and Christof Fischesser (Fafner) offered very appropriate voices and were excellent interpreters.

Okka Von Der Demerau was good in the part of Erda, as was the evergreen Andreas Conrad in the part of Mime. Aga Mikolaj was again Freia. Levente Molnar was a sonorous Donner, and Dean Power was a modest Froh. The Rhine Daughters were flawless, especially Hanna-Elisabeth Müller (Woglinde). Her sisters were Jennifer Johnston (Wellgund) and Nadine Weissmann (Flosshilde).

As for the Andreas Kriegenburg production, please refer to my earlier review

The theatre was sold out, and there were numerous “Suche Karte” signs around despite the falling snow. The audience gave a triumphant reception to the artists, in particular to Kirill Petrenko and Tomasz Konieczny.

José Mª Irurzun

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