* Notes *
The Bayreuther Festspiele's last cycle of Der Ring des Nibelungen this season concluded with Götterdämmerung last night. Christian Thielemann kept the orchestra under control, and the sound produced was clear and beautiful. The chorus also sounded absolutely gorgeous. The singing was strong for all the smaller roles. The Rheintöchter sounded lovely and alluring. Christiane Kohl (Woglinde), Ulrike Helzel (Wellgunde), and Simone Schröder (Floßhilde) looked oddly winsome, a bit like something out of an Esther Williams film gone awry. The Norns sang with authority: Simone Schröder, Martina Dike, and Edith Haller all had good presence. Edith Haller also sang the role of Gutrune, and her bell-like sound was a fine contrast to Linda Watson's heartier tones. Christa Mayer gave an impassioned performance as Waltraute.
Andrew Shore (Alberich) was impressive in his last scene, pleading but threatening. Hans-Peter König (Hagen) was much beloved by the audience, perhaps because of his full tone and good volume. Ralf Lukas was a bit quiet as Gunther, but he did not strain terribly either. Linda Watson was a stately and dignified Brünnhilde, her lower register is beautifully warm. Christian Franz lacked subtlety in his performance as Siegfried, he remained clownish and childlike. He did have nice moments, especially in his last scene, but there were times too when his voice sounded like it would simply give out.
The production, from Tankred Dorst, grew ever more overwrought. Although one always appreciates poultry with Wagner, perhaps the man with the rooster-head that flapped his arms was a bit too much. Or the woman placing and removing three pairs of goggles from her face, pretending her palm was a mirror, that could have been unnecessary. Still, one was entertained. On the other hand, the girls making out and the female nudity was more distracting, as was all the running about near the end.
* Tattling *
There was much talking from the German/American couple in Row 10 on the right side of the Parkett, Seats 17 and 18. They and the American to their left were all rather too large for the seating, and their knees were firmly pressed into the seat backs in front of them. At least the music was grand enough that they were easily ignored.
There was audible laughter when Siegfried does not recognize Brünnhilde and tries to shake her hand.