Saturday, August 22, 2015

Castorf Ring: Die Walkuere

Again, the bullet points version.

  • Orchestra sounds great; it's a much darker, fatter sound than I am used to hearing in San Francisco, where a sleek tone is favored.
  • Some odd directorial choices, including crucial scenes played almost out of sight, indoor scenes played (apparently) outdoors, lack of interaction between character in important scenes (Wotan monolog to Bruennhilde in Act II, their big scene together in Act III).
  • And still very conventionally staged in most ways, certainly nothing like Rheingold.
  • Johan Botha, born to sing Siegmund. No, he's not much of an actor, but his voice has absolutely perfect placement for the role, and he is both tireless and vocally expressive.
  • Anja Kampe (Sieglinde) was the audience favorite tonight, and she was wonderful.
  • Ditto Claudia Mahnke's Fricka, but this was one of the scenes where the interactions with Wotan were inexplicably blank.
  • I really really like Wolfgang Koch's singing, would enjoy hearing his Wotan in a more conventional production. It's got the necessary solidity of tone and expressiveness.
  • Did not love Catherine Foster (Brunnhilde) in Act II, though the whole Annunciation of Death scene was very well done; in Act III, she blossomed and turned into a goddess.
  • Fantastic group of Valkyries, a couple of whom sounded ready for Bruennhilde. A big wow here.
  • Kwangchul Yoon also has got the perfect voice for Hunding, what used to be called a "black bass."
  • I am struck by how much of a difference it can make to observe certain stage directions, for example, Wotan audibly striking his spear against something when he calls to Loge; in this case, it was an oil drum sitting on stage.
  • I wonder how many fire marshalls it takes when you're using live fire in a 140-year-old wooden opera house.
  • Kirill Petrenko looked at the score before Act 3, noticed that it's kind of an exciting opera, and woke the fuck up.

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