Wednesday, August 09, 2017
Die Walküre at the Festspielhaus
Tonight's performance was very strong for many different reasons. First the transparent handling of the great Bayreuth orchestra by Marek Janowski really stood out. He never overpowered the singers, but also knew well when to whip the players into rapturous sound. The extended orchestra sections in Wotan's farewell being a perfect example of Janowski's vigorous and expert handling of the orchestra and singers.
This season the Ring will have three different Wotans. John Lundgren played him tonight with much power and nobility, and although at times the tessitura of the role made him strain and shout, he got through the performance with flying colors. Likewise, tenor Christopher Ventris and bass Georg Zeppenfeld as Sigmund, and Hunding, respectively offered strong characterizations and solid singing.
It was a night for the ladies, though, starting with the beautiful sound of Camila Nylund as Sieglinde, and Catherine Foster as a powerhouse Brünnhilde. Both paced themselves well throughout the night, and the results were beautiful singing from start to finish.
The production continues to be puzzling, although tonight was miles ahead of Das Rheingold. Once again, Castorf chose a unit revolving set, and although used less, he continued his obtrusive, unnecessary use of video cameras capturing selected moments from the drama, and projected on white sheets There was also a fake Soviet silent film a la Eisenstein or Dovshenko which only proved to be cryptic and distracting. ithout the vido element this production would be much stronger.
Of course, pretty soon this whole production will be eliminated, and probably remembered as one of the weakest Rings in recent years.