Monday, June 20, 2011

SF Opera Ring Cycle I: Siegfried

San Francisco OperaFriday night's San Francisco Opera Ring Cycle performance of Siegfried was strong. The orchestra under Donald Runnicles was stunning, sounding buoyant but without losing a feeling of substance. There was a continual forward motion, the climaxes unfolding naturally along the way. In the ominous prelude to Act II, featuring timpani, tuba & tremolo strings, the orchestra was a creature in itself. The strangely meandering violin line that accompanies Siegfried's arrival at Brünnhilde's rock was other-worldy. I felt like the sun was shining in my eyes too when Brünnhilde awoke to those shimmering brass chords.

I continued to enjoy Jay Hunter Morris's bright, gritty sound & even singing. He sounded even more comfortable than before, moving easily on stage & never straining or in danger of losing his voice. David Cangelosi's Mime did 3 cartwheels for us as well as a backward somersault atop the trailer. I appreciate that he sings the role rather than half declaiming it, as I sometimes hear. His characterization is so funny & entertaining that I came dangerously close to liking Mime. Nina Stemme's Brünnhilde continues to be unstoppable, moving with excitement & sounding vibrant & warm.

In Act I, Wotan's reaction to the bad beer from Mime's trailer got a big laugh. He humorously walked with his foot in a bucket to imitate the giants, & he may have momentarily gotten his foot stuck for real. In Act II, Siegfried makes his pipe by drilling holes in a metal pipe. I did not understand why Alberich is making Molotov cocktails & pushing around a noisy shopping cart. Daniel Sumegi makes a gruff, hollow sound that is appropriate to Fafner, though he also strokes Siegfried's head, implying an unexpected tenderness. Mr. Morris's stage presence is likable, but his Siegfried becomes particularly nasty when he threatens to burn the bodies of Fafner & Mime. I am still not convinced by having the Woodbird appear as a pretty young girl. It seems wrong for Siegfried to interact with another woman before he encounters Brünnhilde. The staging of the Act III encounter between Wotan & Erda has been toned down so that Wotan is not so physically abusive. Ronnita Miller's low register is so grounded & weighty it is like a separate voice from her higher range.

The Opera Tattler tweeted something about a wardrobe malfunction that prevented her from making a full costumed appearance at this performance. This was a big disappointment to at least one person in standing room, who, on hearing the news, worried that she would not be coming at all. Siegfried's bear did not get a curtain call, as he did at the 1st performance.

§ Siegfried
San Francisco Opera Ring Cycle 2011

Conductor, Donald Runnicles
Director, Francesca Zambello

Siegfried, Jay Hunter Morris
The Wanderer (Wotan), Mark Delavan
Brünnhilde, Nina Stemme
Mime, David Cangelosi
Alberich, Gordon Hawkins
Fafner, Daniel Sumegi
Erda, Ronnita Miller
Forest Bird, Stacey Tappan

Fri 06/17/11 6:30pm

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