* Notes *
The first cycle of LA Opera's Ring Festival concluded with Götterdämmerung last night. James Conlon kept the orchestra at a controlled pace, and the volume was never overwhelming. The brass was not terribly secure, even sounding chaotic at times. The horn calls were respectable, albeit very careful and slow. The chorus sounded lovely and together, even whilst fluttering their hands and doing choreographed stretches. The Norns were ominous, with Jill Grove sounding slightly strained, Michelle DeYoung sweet, and Melissa Citro a tad shrill. The Rheintöchter were enticing: Stacey Tappan (Woglinde), Lauren McNeese (Wellgunde), and Ronnita Nicole Miller (Floßhilde) did well. Jennifer Wilson sang Gutrune with silvery ease, while Michelle DeYoung was a jarring Waltraute.
Richard Paul Fink was sinister as Alberich, ruthless but in the end helpless. Eric Halfvarson (Hagen) sounded merciless, his full, rich voice was still very beautiful. Alan Held was quite loud as Gunther, he sang without strain. Linda Watson remained dignified as Brünnhilde, her upper register can be harsh, but she conveys the emotional content of her text clearly. John Treleaven had a rough, quiet start, improved, but then had some trouble with the end of Act II. He pulled through for his last scene.
Achim Freyer's production was a continual delight, his vision carried through to the very end. Though not focused on the human aspects of the narrative, his ideas are clearly reasoned and fully committed to throughout. I was particularly amused by the enormous red bendy straw shaped into a triangle that was the thread of fate, and by the red balloons that were lowered on wires, then lifted, then popped at the end of Act II. Hagen's very special garage door opener that blinked and flashed in different colors was also highly entertaining. On a more serious note, the staging for when Siegfried takes on Gunther's shape was very effective, and more convincing than any of the others I have seen.
* Tattling *
The orchestra level was more crowded than during Siegfried or Die Walküre, and the talking was not as loud. The usual watch alarms sounded at each hour. Someone was crinkling a plastic bag during the last two acts. The man in Row M Seat 12 booed loudly at James Conlon, and screamed "Go back to school, read the score." There were also boos for the production team, but these too where mostly drowned out by cheers.
LA Opera's marketing department sponsored a Tweetup Meetup with Jon Caves, Philip Horváth, Cody Melcher, Katherine M. Talley, and various others. We went to the press reception and got to go back stage to meet Maestro Conlon. We also ran into Achim Freyer, and I managed to speak with him a little, even getting out a few words of German. To my great delight, I found some of my favorite opera fans hanging around back stage as well, including Dr. Tamara Sanikidze, currently an Adler Fellow.