Wagner's Die Walküre

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Bryn Terfel as Wotan in the Met Opera production of Wagner's <em>Die Walküre</em> Bryn Terfel as Wotan in the Met Opera production of Wagner's Die Walküre (Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera)

Director Robert Lepage's new Ring continues with Die Walküre. Here the focus of Wagner's drama shifts from the gods to humans, specifically the warrior Siegmund and his twin sister Sieglinde, who will become the parents of the central figure of the Ring, the hero Siegfried.

The cycle’s second installment features Bryn Terfel as Wotan, Lord of the Gods. Katarina Dalayman is Brünnhilde, while Frank van Aken and Eva-Maria Westbroek are the Wälsungen twins, Siegmund and Sieglinde (van Aken replaces Jonas Kaufmann, who is ill). Stephanie Blythe is Fricka.

When Liszt received a copy of the Walküre score, he reportedly wrote a note to Wagner, stating, “Your Walküre [score] has arrived, and I should like to reply to you by your Lohengrin chorus, sung by 1,000 voices, and repeated a thousandfold: ‘A wonder! A wonder!’”

Cast:

Conductor: Fabio Luisi
Brünnhilde: Katarina Dalayman
Sieglinde: Eva-Maria Westbroek
Fricka: Stephanie Blythe
Siegmund: Frank van Aken
Wotan: Bryn Terfel
Hunding: Hans-Peter König

Comments [17]

Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

IT WOULD BE CRAZY-FUNNY IF OPERA WOULD ENTERTAIN THE FICTION THAT SUPER MODERNISTIC, LASER, BIG SET PRODUCTIONS WOULD COMPENSATE FOR LACKLUSTER SINGING VOICES. OPERA IS A COMPREHENSIVE AGGREGATE OF BEAUTIFUL SINGING, ACTING, AND SUPPORTED BY SETS AND COSTUMES AND ORCHESTRAL UNDERPINNING. MINUS GLORIOUS SINGING, IT WOULD JUST BE ENTERTAINMENT, WHICH MIGHT SUFFICE FOR SOME. . I am a Wagnerian heldentenor , opera composer, and director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute. My three websites are www.WagnerOpera.com, www.ShakespeareOpera.com and
www.RichardWagnerMusicDramaInstitute.com, where one may download, free, at RECORDED SELECTIONS, 37 complete selections," live, " from my four solo concerts in the Main Hall, the Isaac Stern Auditorium, of Carnegie Hall.

Jan. 21 2013 12:00 PM
Marilyn von Ehrenkrook from Oakland, Calif.

The 2nd cycle of the HD Ring was an unexpected treat. The sub Siegmund was a headline in itself, and Dalaymann was a delight to hear, an experienced Brunnhilde. Is van Aken going to be asked to join the Met? He should. Is Terfel going to remain as Wotan? Has he reconciled to the Machine? With all its various faults and a need for "smoothing out", we are going to the current Encore and will enjoy seeing and hearing it in the correct order.

May. 14 2012 12:35 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, NJ

Frances Henry, on one thing we can agree, the TIMBRES of Flagstad, Melchior, Kipnis and Schorr will NEVER again be heard in LIVE performers. But the power, the vocal techniques, the CARRYING POEWER, PROJECTION, WILL one day again be prevalent enough to satisfy the lofty ideals of the composers. Today there are NO Wagnerian singers of the quality of those in the 1930s and 1940s. We had no Lincoln Center when I studied at Juilliard on Claremont Avenue and 122nd street, the original site for Juilliard, nor did we have anything but '78's and chapel shaped radios with only AM reception. The skyscraper or at least massive structures that now dominate our musical cultural scene were yet to arrive, but we did have the top composers, singers and conductors fleeing from devastated Europe after WWII and teaching at Juilliard. Born and living in Jersey City, NJ I had the distinct advantage of proximity to the Met Opera and the New York City Opera to attend, at minimum cost, two to three times weekly, at standing room, from age 15, performances of a wide rep by major singers whose like simply does not exist today. At age 10 I heard on WNYC a broadcast of the recording of Toscanini's conducting the New York Philharmonic in the Rhine Journey and Funeral Music. This recording was made long, long before his recording with the NBC Symphony. That hearing encouraged me to borrow from our major library in Jersey City, on Jersey Avenue, the piano vocal scores of all the Wagner operas from Der fliegender Hollander to Parsifal and the full orchestra scores of the RING and TRISTAN. I started studying composition, composing, and as an autodidact at that time, singing. Taking at different comfortable octaves, I studied, "sang" all the major male roles, marginalizing the David, Mime, Alberich, Young Sailor, and their peer brothers whose roles did not interest me. MY professional career started at age 17. My study of voice with Friedrich Schorr, Alexander Kipnis, Margarete Matzernauer, Frieda Hempel, Martial Singher, Mack Harrell, John Brownlee and Karin Branzell, all leading singers at the Met Opera before they retired, prepared me for my rep decisions. Schorr, Kipnis and Singher I saw in performances at the Met long before I got to study with them. I am the director of the Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, a Wagnerian heldentenor and an opera composer of "Shakespeare" and "The Political Shakespeare." Live performance has a special quality that no matter how sophisticated the recording home entertainment "Theaters" they will never replace the Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center or similar performance sites.

Apr. 30 2012 07:37 AM
Frances Henry from Canada

I happened by accident onto your website and enjoyed reading the comments. There was one that particularly struck me, the gentleman who said confidentily that he expects to find Melchiors and Flagstads in Wagner performances again. I have been waiting nearly an entire lifetime to hear see and hear such voices again! I was privileged to see Melchior many times singing with also great Helen Traubel in N.Y. (and Flagstad once in San Francisco). Since then, however, I've heard a succession of adequate , with some being better than others, Wagnerian singers. I have come to believe that both Melchior and Flagstad, but especially the former, were freaks of nature. I mean that in a positive way in the sense that such voices are so unique as to almost never happen. I doubt that I will ever hear another Melchior! But, we can dream on....

Apr. 29 2012 03:08 PM
concetta nardone from Nassau county

Agree that some of the tenors' voices are too light for the Wagnerian roles. Wonder what has happened to Ben Heppner. Beautiful voice but I read somewhere that he is having vocal problems.
Dear CBC: as for Wotans children, yes the women are much brighter candles. Wagner writes some wonderful comments about women in general in some of his operas. Loge in Das Rheingold remarks that women bring light to life, or something like that.

Apr. 29 2012 12:19 PM
paleo

Brunnhilde is supposed to sing her last lines in a state of ecstasy; but here it seems she is simply ready to go to sleep and to be done with it all.

Apr. 28 2012 10:01 PM

Mr. Lane. It seems to me that singers are taught to sound the same, almost like a cookie-cutter. There's no personality in the voices. Voices are not distinctive today. I sure you could easily pick out a Lorenz, Hopf, Aldenhoff, Suthaus, Thomas, Windgassen, Sattler, Kullman, Svanholm, Maison, etc. It's almost as if today's singers are being deprived of their individuality.

Apr. 28 2012 06:18 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

CAVANAUGH, YOU ARE CORRECT IN SAYING THAT SCHORR did not resort to sprechstimme, parlando, breathy voice production. OR SLURRING. If you remember, I am saying this because you undoubtedly do, that the Siegmund today sang bwith a breathy tone, ahd wobbles and even wrong words. HE did improve considerably in the second act, had no wobble and the voice quality became more in line with what one expects at the Met. The biggerst problem I see/hear in today's singers is a lack of body in their voices, and NO DISTINCTIVE BEAUTIFUL TIMBRE.
yES, beautiful but not memorable like a Bjorling, a Melchior, a Gigli, a Tauber, a Lanza, needless to say the "god"
himself Caruso. The vocal techniques common today do not fully express the possibilities of so many otherwise exceptional basically talented singers. Thanks, CAVANAUGH pointing out the obvious.

Apr. 28 2012 05:19 PM

Sorry Mr. Lane but Terfel over used piano/parlando too much. It would have had more of an effect if he used it less. Your teacher, the great Frierich Schorr, never stopped to such gimmicks. His voice was even & almost perfect legato. Terfel aspirated before high notes - a bad habit.

Apr. 28 2012 04:27 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

Now that we are hearing the third act with its most thrilling and familiar "chestnuts" we can rightfully assess the vision of Wagner in his appropriate sequencing, both leitmotive-wise and musically so that everything holds so well together. Each melodic representation of a thing, a person, or an idea had a definitive melodic synonym, known as leitmotives, the building blocs, the cornerstones of Wagner's linked chain. As an opera composer myself, "Shakespeare" and 'The Politcal Shakespeare," I can appreciate the stream of consciousness that enthused WAGNER so passionately over each of his music dramas. Each of Wagner's operas has its own harmonic texture and "feel." Bryn Terfel has in this act nuanced his text ''reading" and consequently his tonal flow is not choppy but well controlled and the forward thrust of his vocal delivery is well measured and controlled. Wotan's Abschied (Farewell) perhaps, as much as any music tone poem like pictures a fiery scene in the orchestrra and pr4ovides theaters with a pictorial splendor of flames and mountain top and jutting rocks ands the Wotan as beautiful and declamatory music as to be in the operatic literature. The opwra is ending now. It is 4:18 PM.

Apr. 28 2012 04:16 PM

The Met orchestra once again played magnificently. They don't get the credit they deserve.

Apr. 28 2012 04:08 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

One always should encourage major endeavors to motivate to take on demanding tasks. The Met Opera's undertaking with regard to the RING is commendable. In today's performance the singers improved as they continued in their respective roles. What was/is most NOT in evidence is the singular beauty of timbre as well as the power that we associate with Wagnerian singers at their best. Most improvement was in the singing of today's Siegmund Frank van Aken replacing the indisposed Jonas Kaufmann. The orchestra under maestro Fabio Luisi was glowing and thew melos of each scene developed with the sense of inevitability. Stephanie Blythe is a treasure vocally with the fullness and amplitude of her magnificent voice, but also her convincing enunciating of the text with the urgency of Fricka's pronouncements. My background of studying the Wagner heldentenor roles with the Met Opera's Wagnerian legends Friedrich Schorr, Margarete Matzenauer, Alexander Kipnis, Karin Branzell, and Nartial Singher and in the cases of Schorr Singher and Kipnis viewing them at the Met in performances reinforces my absolute confidence that Wagner performance will eventually also find new Melchiors and Flagstads to properly represent the majesty, the epic and the consuming passion for delineating the panoramic emotions, actions and aspirations that both WAGNER and SHAKESPEARE penned so immortally.

Apr. 28 2012 02:11 PM

I think Siegmund is dumb as a box of rocks. He doesn't even recognize his own sister but Sieglinde recognizes him. I guess dumbness runs in the male line of Wotan's family because all his female children are pretty sharp. Poor Siegfrid is a product of bad genes, as Hagen is a product of evil genes.

Apr. 28 2012 10:53 AM

Oh, I don't think Siegfried is dumb per se, he only knows what Mime has taught him & what he's taught himself. It's not his fault he's never seen a woman before.
As for Walkure, let's be specific - incest between twins!
Enjoy your day CBC.

Apr. 28 2012 10:42 AM
concetta nardone from Nassau county

Great start, flying finish. Gott, what a middle. Story: abusive husband, incest, adultery, nagging wife, henpecked husband, rebellious daughter. Father condemns daughter. She will be a housewife, sisters run off screaming, Woe, Woe. Daughter is encircled in a ring of fire. Next opera: Dumb blonde will come along and awaken her with a kiss.
Dear CBC: Will not be home to listen to this. Have recording but always prefer a live broadcast. Hope you are well. Best wishes.

Apr. 28 2012 07:02 AM

This Siegmund is new to me. I wish him well. Hope Kaufmann gets well.

Apr. 27 2012 11:56 PM

CBC Hope u r well.This will be a long post. I rec'd the Met HD transmission of this Walkure from friends in Europe. I did not like the Machine. I DO NOT WANT TO DISSUADE ANYONE FROM GOING TO THE MET OR THE REBROADCAST IN THEATRES OF THE RING. U should all make up your own minds & after all,it's Wagner's glorious music.
I did watch 2 vids from the Proms & Covent Garden (2005) with Terfel. His voice was in much better shape then. It was smooth, not choppy. He SANG the role, now he gets thru the role. Maybe it's a technique problem or he's been singing roles too heavy for him but the voice has definitely deteriorated - sorry to say.

Apr. 27 2012 11:54 PM

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