Siegfried

 

Richard Wagner Siegfried opera to libretto by the composer. Directed 2008 by Carlos Padrissa and La Fura dels Baus at the Palau de las Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia. Stars Lance Ryan (Siegfried), Jennifer Wilson (Brünnhilde), Juha Uusitalo (Der Wanderer), Gerhard Siegel (Mime), Franz-Josef Kapellmann (Alberich), Catherine Wyn-Rodgers (Erda), Stephen Milling (Fafner), and Marina Zyatkova (Waldvogel). Zubin Mehta conducts the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana. Sets by Roland Olbeter; costumes by Chu Uroz; lighting by Peter Van Praet; video projections by Franc Aleu. Directed for TV by Tiziano Mancini. Released 2010, disc has 7.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: B

This is the third Ring opera produced in Valencia in the Fura dels Baus high-tech, fantasy-literature style. We find ourselves getting tired of this design concept. We now fear it tends to distract from rather to support the singing and acting of the stars.

We note that the orchestra under Mehta sounds better on this disc than on the earlier two discs Ring discs.

The Valencia folks maintained good character continuity through the first 3 operas of this Ring with the same singers in the same roles. The big newcomer here is, of course, Siegfried. Lance Ryan is for sure on that short list of singers in the world who can hack Siegfried, and Ryan did a great job at Valencia. But his performance didn't come across as a personal triumph because of all the competition and clutter from the design and direction at Valencia. This should be contrasted to the spectacular success of Jay Hunter Morris in the Met version of Siegfried that came out late in 2012. If you didn't know better, you would think that Wagner wrote this opera as a vehicle for Morris personally---that's how dominant his performance was. And how did that happen? Met director Lepage remembered that the name of this work is "Siegfried." And everything in the Met production has but one mission: to support Siegfried in his trek from foundling to hero.

Gerhard Siegel was excellent as Mime in Valencia. But he played the same role in a much more distinguished way for Lepage in the Met Ring. The clean directing at the Met gave Siegel full opportunity to show his singing and acting prowess. Alas, Jennifer Wilson takes it on the chin again at Valencia with yet another astonishingly ugly costume.

The English subtitles are as bad as ever. Our favorite howler: "But soft!" Has anyone has used this since Shakespeare?  And what did it mean in 1595? (It probably meant, "Oh look! Be quiet and pay attention."

We gave the first two installments of the Valencia Ring the liberal grade of B+, which was the verdict of Wonk Gordon Smith's L'OperaDou Jury. But the Jury newer tried Siegfried or Götterdämmerung. We will drop the grade on this to B. This denotes "a fine title you will probably like a lot if the subject interests you." So if you want to see a mythic hero story told over a background of a high-tech, computer-generated fantasy world, pig out!  

Alas, we find no worthwhile YouTube clip for this title.