Die Walküre‎


Wagner Die Walküre‎ to libretto by the composer. Directed 2008 by Michael Schulz at the Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar. Stars Erin Caves (Siegmund), Hidekazu Tsumaya (Hunding), Renatus Mészár (Wotan), Kirsten Blanck (Sieglinde), Catherine Foster (Brünnhilde), Christine Hansmann (Fricka), Silona Michel (Helmwige), Susann Günther-Dissmeier (Gerhilde), Joana Caspar (Ortlinde), Marie-Helen Joël (Waltraute), Carola Guber (Sigrune), Christiane Bassek (Roßweiße), Kerstin Quandt (Grimgerde), Nadine Weissmenn (Schwertleite), Erika Krämer (Grane), Elisabeth Anetseder-Meyer (Freia as Harpist), Lars Creuzburg (Donner), and Steffen Bärtl (Froh/Loge). Carl St. Clair conducts the Staatskapelle Weimar. Set design by Dirk Becker; costume design by Renée Listerdal; dramaturgy by Wolfgang Willaschek. Directed for TV by Brooks Riley. Sung in German. Released 2009, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: C-

I praised the first disc in this Ring set, Das Rheingold, for the director's clever attempt to turn Wagner's Ring into a comedy of sorts. Now comes the second disc in the series with a substantially different cast.

Unfortunately, there's not much humor in Die Walküre.  Director Schulz does work in a funny introductory scene. Mature singers dressed like children give a juvenile concert while the Mafia family of the gods looks on in boredom. The party is broken up by a young boy who unexpectedly screams. (I'm guessing that character is the young Hagen, who appears as an adult in the last two installments of the Ring as directed by Schulz.) We also meet Siegmund and Sieglinde as children wearing blindfolds that become props throughout the rest of this  production. Wotan and Erda, the parents of 11 of the other characters in Die Walküre‎, almost constantly move about the stage in ways that Wagner did not call for in his libretto. (Erda is a non-singing role here.)

The Valkyries wear little-girl outfits in several scenes. I'm guessing these costumes were cheaper than any decent Valkyrie battle gear. Several of the sisters are in their sixties, and they relish being teens again.  For the "Ride of the Valkyries," the sisters, dressed in nighties, have a pillow fight in the dorm. The girls are not completely naive. They sleep with their boyfriends in their bunks. The only thing is, the boyfriends are corpses in bodybags, one of which falls to the floor with a thud. While all this is going on, girls keep singing about what their horses are doing, which is inane. Surely in situations like this, the director should write new words. When Wotan arrives to stop the pillow fight, Erda hides under a blanket in a bunk. Froh and Donner find her hiding and chase her out of the house. 

That's about all the jokes one could make from this libretto. The lead singers here seem weaker than those in Das Rheingold. The Weimar Staatskapelle plays fairly well, but the recording is lifeless. Still, this no doubt was watchable live in Weimar. For a moderate price you could see Die Walküre without traveling to Berlin or Vienna and fighting for tickets.

PQ an SQ are adequate. But the English subtitles are pretty inept. I can't think of many reasons to watch this when we have so many others fabulous HDVD titles out these days including several strong Ring cycles. So I'm going to give this title a "C-."