Saturday, August 17, 2013

Die Walküre

Thursday night I attended the Bayreuth Festival's new staging of Die Walküre by Frank Castorf. The opera is set at an oil well in a remote area of the Soviet Union. The huge unit set has multitple levels & includes a cavernous shed & a tall tower for the oil drill. The staging is unrelated to the previous night's Rheingold, except that again the entire set rotates, & videos are projected on the set. In act 1, a live video feed shows in cartoonish detail how Sieglinde goes about drugging Hunding's drink.

Mr. Castorf's staging is lazy or just unfinished. It's fragmentary, disregards the libretto & has no internal consistency. Though most of the characters look Russian, Fricka is dressed as a Central Asian princess. Act 1 confusingly takes place outdoors. During the end of the act, we see a film of Erda eating a whole cake with her hands, answering the telephone, resting the receiver on the cake, then sloppily putting on a dress. Sieglinde & Siegmund don't run away but simply go into the shed. Wotan has a long beard in act 2 but none in act 3. In act 3 an oil derrick emerges from the shed, extends threateningly over the lip of the stage & starts pumping up & down. After a few minutes it's withdrawn, all for no apparent reason. There was real fire on stage for the closing moments, but coming from a giant oil barrel that was nowhere near the sleeping Brünnhilde.

The singing was uniformly fine. Tenor Johan Botha sang a lyrical Siegmund, & his high notes were bright & secure & had a nice tension. Soprano Anja Kampe sounded strong yet sweet as Sieglinde, & she went full out for her "Du hehrstes Wunder!" Bass Franz-Josef Selig was a gentlemanly & cultivated Hunding, who enters wearing a stove pipe hat. Soprano Catherine Foster as Brünnhilde has a light & pretty voice which is easy to listen to. Bass-baritone Wolfgang Koch sang Wotan with a focused voice & a wide dynamic range, but the staging was so static that his act 2 monologue was a bore & did not establish any sort of relationship with father & daughter. Brünnhilde went about a bunch of distracting stage business instead of listening to him. Mezzo Claudia Mahnke sang with fluidity & was a sympathetic Fricka.

Kirill Petrenko's conducting continues to be pleasingly light-footed & springy. The orchestra sounds great, & its clarity is astounding. The valkyries are on multiple levels of the set for the opening of act 3, & this is probably the most airy & transparent Ride of the Valkyries I'll ever hear. There were curtain calls for the principals after each act, & the final curtain call ran just under 10 minutes. The audience stomped their feet especially for Ms. Kampe, who looked grateful.

Die Oper Tatlerin wore this festive outfit to the Festspielhaus this evening, & many people photographed her surreptitiously, though she was perfectly happy to pose when a nice woman asked to take her picture at the end of the performance.

§ Die Walküre
Bayreuther Festspeiele 2013

Conductor, Kirill Petrenko
Director, Frank Castorf
Stage design, Aleksandar Denić
Costumes, Adriana Braga Peretzki
Lighting, Rainer Casper
Video, Andreas Deinert & Jens Crull

Siegmund, Johan Botha
Hunding, Franz-Josef Selig
Wotan, Wolfgang Koch
Sieglinde, Anja Kampe
Brünnhilde, Catherine Foster
Fricka, Claudia Mahnke
Gerhilde, Allison Oakes
Ortlinde, Dara Hobbs
Waltraute, Claudia Mahnke
Schwertleite, Nadine Weissmann
Helmwige, Christiane Kohl
Siegrune, Julia Rutigliano
Grimgerde, Geneviève King
Rossweisse, Alexandra Petersamer

Thursday 15. August, 04:00 PM

No comments: