Sunday, August 30, 2015

Castorf Ring: Siegfried and Goetterdaemmerung

Bullet points:
  • Petrenko's conducting did not improve in any substantive way, despite the very exciting Walkuere Act 3, those these operas were, I admit, better than the truly boneless Rheingold. He remained pedestrian, without an instinctive feel for the shape and process of these great works and without much feel for their sound-world, too.
  • One example of where he fell down is the beautiful chords that accompany Bruennhilde's awakening, which reappear at the beginning of Goetterdaemmerung and again during Siegfried's narrative, when he is dying and finally remebers her. These chords must be majestic and must glow, and they carry with them some mystery as well. Petrenko did not time them well; did not take enough time for the pauses; did not allow them to expand, did not judge the dynamics well. 
  • Stefan Vinke's vocal stamina is truly astonishing, and, singing Siegfried, he sounded fine at the end of both operas. He doesn't have the most beautiful voice, though he could sing sweetly when the score calls for it and he's reasonably musical; I'd say he could back off the loudness a bit.
  • Catherine Foster (Bruennhilde) was pretty good, not great. Her voice is built more like Karita Mattila's than like those of many sopranos we consider Hochdramatische, with most of the power in a very clear and cool top, IOW she would sound to most of us more like a Salome or Chrysothemis than a Bruennhilde. She had pitch problems when she woke up, and pitch problems during the immolation. First time I have heard the soprano having more trouble at the end of Siegfried than the tenor.
  • Personal to Frank Castorf: ¨á¸Ĥeil dir, Sonne!¨ should tell you that it's not midnight when she wakes up.
  • There's a lot that I am willing to buy about Siegfried's loutishness, but not his having sex with the Forest Bird.
  • That was otherwise a nice staging of her scenes.
  • But I would like an explanation of how Br. changed her clothes and location while asleep. 
  • Stephen Milling's fabulous Hagen was he closest thing to a show-stealing performance I saw at Bayreuth. He is awesome.
  • The Personregie was truly remarkable in its detail and care and character development, whatever you thought of the production as a whole. I'll just point to everything Allison Oakes did as Gutrune in the last few scenes, especially in her solo bit between the funeral march and the entrance of Hagen and Gunther. Great direction and execution.
  • Call me shallow: yes, I do think that there ought to be something spectacular going on at the end of Goetterdaemmerung. If you're not going to put on a worldwide barbeque, figure out something to match what you hear in the music.
  • Great work by Claudia Mahnke as Waltraute and the Second Norn.


Joshua Kosman said...

I heard Milling as Hunding and Fasolt in the first Wadsworth Ring in Seattle in 2001, and he absolutely knocked me on my ass. I'm glad to know he's still going strong. He's been almost completely absent from SF, to our great loss.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Same here - plus, as Gurnemanz in Seattle in 2003 and Philippe II in the last Don Carlo(s). (Yes, over Robert Lloyd - I probably should have seen it twice....)

I don't get it myself, but maybe it's just too far to travel.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Oh, should have mentioned, there is a very good, recent Parsifal video with Milling as Gurnemanz, Wolfgang Koch as Amfortas and Klingsor, and Johan Botha as Parsifal, Thielemann conducting.

Michael Strickland said...

Call me shallow, too, because I still haven't seen an End of the World finale onstage that did it justice. Something to look forward to, I suppose.

Bogda said...

Regarding ending: I guess it fits perfectly well to Castorf's production. After going through what he sees as different ('german'?) Utopias - Capitalism (Rheingold); Revolution (Walkure); Socialism (Siegfried) and Democracy (Gotterdammerung) he is basically left clueless as to what is next to come, and doesn't see much hope.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I'm not sure whether the production tracks quite that well to those...stages of political development? But it is certainly the case that Castorf suppresses most of the theatrical magic in the Ring.