Friday, May 08, 2009

Met Ring: Götterdämmerung

The Metropolitan Opera
Saturday, May 2, 2009, 6:00 pm


Conductor: James Levine
Brünnhilde: Katarina Dalayman
Gutrune: Margaret Jane Wray
Waltraute: Yvonne Naef
Siegfried: Christian Franz
Gunther: Iain Paterson
Alberich: Tom Fox
Hagen: John Tomlinson

Production: Otto Schenk

The performance got off to a gripping start with an excellent Norn scene. Levine's conducting was expansive, & each of the Norns had a weighty but distinct voice. Again, the lighting was so dim that I had no idea what was occurring on stage. Christian Franz's Siegfried sounded a bit better than the previous evening, though it was still clearly effortful. Dalayman, back from Walküre, was a warm Brünnhilde

The Gibichung scenes were brightly lit, & I felt like I could at last make out the stage. I liked that Gunther & Gutrune were not the effete wimps I have often seen in other productions. On the other hand, I thought it was silly when Hagen observed, "dich, Gutrun, ohne Mann", & Gutrune responded by sobbing into Gunther's shoulder.

Tomlinson continued to be one of my favorite singers. His Hagen was ominous, heavy & dark, & he was completely domineering in the Gibichung scenes. Hagen's Watch & the dream scene with Alberich are 2 of my favorites in the Ring, & I enjoyed Tomlinson tremendously in both. The Met chorus is terrific & their thrillingly loud entrance in Act II was stupendous & very welcome. Here Dalayman became a very emotive & sympathetic Brünnhilde. At one point the staging had her throw her robe & a crown violently at Gunther.

There had been some horn bloopers throughout the evening, but the trio of horns at the beginning of Act III was absolutely clean. Our Rheinmaidens got a laugh when they popped up like gophers through a hole in the stage. I thought that Franz managed to rally a bit for his death scene, though he often seemed short of breath. Levine took a controlled, measured pace for the funeral music, allowing it to build only slowly & deliberately. Unfortunately you could hear scraping, pounding & even shouting from behind the scrim during this scene change.

Dalayman sang the Immolation Scene with much variety of expression. She has some striking low notes & also pushed out some very big high ones. Hers was a warm & sympathetic Brünnhilde. The final moments on stage are very busy & involve a series of sets that drop into view then descend, ending with the ruins of Gibichung Hall & a couple of survivors. The audience applauded as soon as the curtain began to descend, so I did not hear the final notes. In fact, due to this phenomenon, I don't think I heard the final notes of any act of this Ring.

One of the distinct pleasure of attending a full Ring cycle is the temporary sense of community it creates. We were all quite chummy in standing room, perhaps even a bit proud. When some seats opened up in the Family Circle, one of standees declared, "I can't sit now. I need the bragging rights!" Also, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that The Opera Tattler graced our presence with delightfully high-maintenance headgear containing feathers & fresh white roses.


Gavin Plumley said...

Bravo on getting through... it is not for the faint hearted and I feel it is a huge lacuna in my life. Oh for your staying power.

Axel Feldheim said...

Thanks for your support! I have to say that I was pleased to get through it standing this time around, as I was not among the youngest up there (though there were standees who were older much than me as well).

Yes, we must see you at a Ring one of these days!