* Notes *
Bayreuth's Ring cycle continued with Die Walküre last night. Once again, the orchestra sounded lovely under the direction of Christian Thielemann, and the brass was particularly fine. The singing was stronger overall than in Das Rheingold. The Walküren did sang admirably, their voices were well-matched. Michelle Breedt was shrill as Fricka, but her characterization of the role was forceful. Linda Watson (Brünnhilde) had a poor start, her notes were not secure and the piercing quality of her voice is unsettling. Watson did have some lovely moments later on, especially when she did not have to overtax herself to be heard over the orchestra. Eva-Maria Westbroek gave a powerful, yet nuanced performance as Sieglinde. She did gasp a bit in Act I, but otherwise her voice was stunning.
Albert Dohmen (Wotan) sounded more assured in Die Walküre than he did the previous night. He sounds best when the orchestration is less heavy. Wotans Abschied von Brünnhilde und Feuerzauber was particularly moving. Kwangchul Youn looked like cruel, brutish Hunding, but in his voice he sounded more stoic and restrained. His physicality in his sudden death was impressive. Endrik Wottrich also embodied the role of Siegmund, but his voice, though warm and pleasant, lacked radiance. Wottrich was also slightly quiet, especially next to Westbroek.
Tankred Dorst's production has both clever and confusing moments. It was entertaining when Siegmund pulled Notung out of a fallen utility pole, and the set for the last act was formidable. On the other hand, the doubling of Wotan in Act II as he sends Brünnhilde off was rather contrived, and the children chasing a man with a bicycle was simply odd. The costumes were appealing, especially the smart red outfits of the Walküren.
* Tattling *
Someone had a medical emergency near the end of Act I, Scene 2. There was a terrible choking sound and evidently the person fell unconscious. She had to be carried out of the hall by two men, and a door was unlocked to get her help. The people in her row were reluctant to stand up to let her out, and the performance continued as if nothing had happened.