The Runnicles touch at the MET
Now, about the Walküre performance: Runnicles led with a sure hand right from the Act I downbeat. As a matter of fact, the first act was perfect, with all three singers in terrific voice. Siegmund was sung by Simon O'Neill, a wonderful tenor from New Zealand who faced the challenges of the role with true bravado and a huge, focused voice to match. Deborah Voigt's Sieglinde is a well-known commodity by now. She has been the house Sieglinde for many years and rightly so, although lately her voice has gotten a bit more strident than usual. Mikhail Petrenko sang an ominous Hunding whose presence spelled future dread.
This performance would have been ideal had it been a one-act opera. Then came Act II and many things did not come together. Lisa Gasteen sang a weak Brünnhilde, barely approximating the correct top notes of her treacherous Hojotoho entrance. James Morris performed a noble rendition of Wotan. Although his voice is getting drier each year, his performance was graced by the kind of experience that made Hans Hotter's last performances unique even when vocally they had lost the luster of youth.
Through it all, it was Sir Donald that kept things together, and the one performer who ultimately took the loudest ovations at the house. Personally, I was so glad that I did not read the MET's roster too carefully before ordering my tickets.