Thursday, May 07, 2009

Met Ring: Siegfried

The Metropolitan Opera
Thursday, April 30, 2009, 6:00 pm


Conductor: James Levine
Brünnhilde: Linda Watson
Erda: Wendy White
Siegfried: Christian Franz
Mime: Robert Brubaker
Wanderer: Albert Dohmen

Production: Otto Schenk

For me, Siegfied is the hump to get over in the Ring. It didn't help matters that right from the top I was waiting for the bear, but all I could see from my vantage point were a couple of paws that quickly disappeared. Afterward, I asked everyone I met, "Did you see the bear?"

I started having concerns for Christian Franz's Siegfried right away. He sounded weak & seemed to lack air. I wasn't at all sure he would make it through the night. He also portrayed the dumbest Siegfried I had ever seen. The ridiculous staging had Mime skipping around in glee & Siegfried giving him a high-five.

Act II was dimly lit, & it was hard to tell Alberich & the Wanderer apart. Alberich got to do some silly skipping around as well. Joseph Anderer delivered a beautiful, accurate & soft-toned horn solo, which incongruously summoned up a dragon that looked like an upside-down crab with floppy limbs. Tomlinson never appeared on stage, but he sounded like he was having fun singing oddly gratifying groans for the dragon. When the dragon died, this messy mass simply deflated. I pictured someone back stage turning a valve to let the air out.

I was very happy with everything I heard from the pit this evening. The orchestra sounded fuller & louder with each act, & the stormy opening of Act III came on with real force. In fact the orchestra covered much of Wendy White's Erda, though Dohmen's low-voiced Wanderer sailed through easily. I suppose if there was any kind of musical progression throughout this cycle, it was in the increasing prominence of the orchestra.

Franz's voice continued to weaken, & the real drama became how he was going to make it through the act. During the final scene he was losing a lot of notes, but he was clearly giving his all anyway. The orchestra blazed away spectacularly for Brünnhilde's awakening scene. Linda Watson as our 2nd Brünnhilde has a powerful voice that is a slightly edgy. There was more goofy stage business for Siegfried, such as when he waves at Brünnhilde from a distance while watching her awaken.

In standing room, there was much intentional & unintentional laughter the whole evening. That embarrassingly awkward line "Das is kein Mann!" was not translated by the Met surtitles, but the audience laughed anyway.

After the opera, I had the pleasure & privilege of meeting Out West Arts, who was wonderfully funny, well-informed & gracious, even when The Opera Tattler & I mistakenly ate his bruschetta appetizer.

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