Wagner: Die Walküre

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

LABELS: Opus Arte
ALBUM TITLE: Die Walkáre
WORKS: Die Walküre
PERFORMER: Deborah Polaski, Linda Watson, Falk Struckmann, Richard Berkeley-Steele, Lioba Braun, Eric Halfvarson; Gran Teatre del Liceu SO/Bertrand de Billy; dir. Harry Kupfer
There are some good things in this second instalment of Barcelona’s 2003 Ring cycle (see May for a review of Das Rheingold), not least Falk Struckmann’s energised Wotan and Deborah Polaski’s feisty Brünnhilde, though the top of her voice lacks the solidity it had at Covent Garden a decade ago. Richard Berkeley-Steele and Linda Watson do sterling work as Siegmund and Sieglinde and there’s a particularly fine Fricka from Lioba Braun. Harry Kupfer’s dark-hued mid-1990s staging stands up well, though I miss something of both the spaciousness and the physicality he brought to his first Ring production filmed at Bayreuth a few years earlier and long overdue on DVD. The real down side to this latest release, though, is some distinctly ropey playing from the Liceu orchestra – not a patch on the Met (DG) or Stuttgart (TDK), let alone the Bayreuth forces conducted by Barenboim on the earlier Kupfer (Teldec). Bertrand de Billy can whip up the pace at times, but there are too many musical lulls and the Magic Fire Music at the end lacks both the magic and fire to match the visuals. And there’s some notably shaky camerawork on close-ups, suggesting zooms in from the rear of the auditorium. The DTS sound is well mixed, with the now established practice of feeding the singing through the central, set-top channel, but the extras are unusually paltry by Opus Arte standards. Matthew Rye