Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Bayreuth 2006: Götterdämmerung

Every day at the Bayreuth Festival this year there has been some kind of surprising event that makes the entire experience memorable and unique. Without a doubt the most exciting part of the live broadcast of Götterdämmerung was discovering the voice of Hans-Peter König, who sang the role of Hagen. Lately at Bayreuth, this is the kind of role that is being cast with a "mature" artist who brings with him a lifetime of interpretive prowess, but who also leaves much to be desired when it comes to an ability to handle the notes. The role of Kurwenal in last year's new production of Tristan und Isolde was sung by one of these aging beauties, and it was a disaster. That artist was replaced this year, but to no avail. There seems to be a plethora of over-the-hill basses and baritones just waiting to grace the stage of the Festspielhaus.

Imagine what a great surprise it was to listen to Hans-Peter König sail his way through Hagen's treacherous music with absolutely no problem whatsoever. This is the kind of bass that reminds you of Gottlob Frick, the great German bass who sang Hagen in the Sir Georg Solti recording of this opera. Frick was called the "blackest bass in Germany," and although König's voice is not as cavernous, it does have the proper evil, dark quality that is perfect for this role. He was a wonderful discovery, and he made this broadcast of Götterdämmerung a real treat.

No comments: