Die Walküre at the Bayreuther Festpiele
Review of Urban Opera's Dido and Aeneas

Siegfried at the Bayreuther Festspiele

Bayreuther-siegfried * Notes * 
Siegfried was performed last night as part of the Bayreuther Festspiele. Conductor Christian Thielemann had the orchestra well in hand, there were only the tiniest of brass errors. For the most part, the sound was translucent but full. The singing was solid. Christiane Kohl's keen voice was suitable for the Waldvogel, not exactly beautiful, but effective. Linda Watson's intonation is not always perfect, but her Brünnhilde was sympathetic, one could hear the range of emotions within her voice. Christa Mayer sounded pretty and limpid as Erda, but was perhaps too ethereal. Ain Anger (Fafner) was not frightening at all, neither in his voice or in his movement.

Both Andrew Shore (Alberich) and Albert Dohmen (Wotan) had imposing performances, and their scene together at the beginning of the second act was tremendous. Wolfgang Schmidt was both sycophantic and spiteful as Mime, he could sound warm or gritty depending on the music. Christian Franz sounded much more comfortable as Siegfried here in Bayreuth compared to his performance at the Met earlier this year. He was still quite a thug, childish and silly as far as his acting. However, he did not sound like he was going to crack at any moment, and his voice had a definite brightness. His volume was a tad low until the last act, when he stepped it up. The last scene of the last act was sung with vehemence on both sides.

Tankred Dorst's production continues to amuse. Siegfried's entrance dressed as a bear was funny, as was the dragon, which seemed to consist entirely of smoke, light, and teeth. The choreography for Siegfried in Act I was perhaps too petulant, but he did show a human side after killing Mime. Overall, the characterization of Siegfried was close to convincing.

* Tattling * 
Before the opera even started, we overheard a middle-aged English-speaking man arranging a date with one of the rather young, blond ushers. She seemed understandably bewildered.

There was a distinct electronic noise at the beginning of Act III, and a watch alarm at each hour. At times there were also high-pitched noises coming from hearing aids. Otherwise, people were silent, not laughing at any of the funny bits. A British man in Row 20 of the orchestra level kept shaking my companion's seat with his feet, and was roundly scolded by her after Act I.