Siegfried at LA Opera
June 04, 2010
* Notes *
Siegfried was performed yesterday as part of Los Angeles Opera's Ring Festival. James Conlon kept the orchestra sounding fairly restrained, the brass continued to have rough patches, but the singing and playing was more synchronized than in the first two operas. Stacey Tappan shimmered as the Waldvogel, her fluttery voice is suited to the role. Jill Grove sounded rather nice as Erda, earthy but not overly pretty. Eric Halfvarson's Fafner was remarkably sympathetic, especially in his death scene. Graham Clark likewise was fine as Mime, his voice is bright, his acting was clear and strong.
Again, both Richard Paul Fink (Alberich) and Vitalij Kowaljow (Wotan) continued to impress, embodying their roles with vigor. The two leads fared less well, though both were maddening in that sometimes their voices were extraordinarily lovely. Linda Watson could sound harsh as Brünnhilde, but her "Heil dir, Sonne! Heil dir, Licht!" was splendidly beautiful. John Treleaven also could sound brilliant and sweet, but more often he was just getting through this very difficult music, and was still standing at the end, at least.
Achim Freyer's production is consistent in its absurdity. The dragon was especially hilarious, it looked like a tiny puppet on wires, and had plumes of red lights attached to its mouth. One imagines that we are seeing Fafner from Siegfried's fearless point of view here. Siegfried is a clowns around, and his buffoonery is on full display. Though flawed, he somehow did not seem very human, so it was a bit hard to relate to him. Also, the way Fafner's wounding was staged was somewhat confusing if one has not read the libretto, given that the beast we see is so small.
* Tattling *
The talking was at a minimum for Act I, though a cellular phone rang during the overture. More electronic noise followed in the middle act, a watch alarm rang at least 20 times. There was much speaking from the audience in Act II, and the person next to me in Row H of the orchestra had to implore the woman and girl behind him to be silent. They apologized during the second intermission, and were silent the rest of the opera. Unfortunately this was not the case for the German-speaking couple closer to the middle of Row J, they spoke openly without the slightest bit of embarrassment.
There was a press reception that I had the pleasure of attending. Evidently Quentin Tarantino was also present.