ALBUM TITLE: Wagner
WORKS: Die Walkure
PERFORMER: Stuart Skelton, Deborah Riedel, Richard Green, John Bröcheler, Lisa Gasteen, Elizabeth Campbell, Elizabeth Stannard, Lisa Harper-Brown, Liane Keegan, Zan McKendree-Wright, Kate Ladner, Gaye MacFarlane; Adelaide SO/Asher FischMelba MR 301091-94 (hybrid C
CATALOGUE NO: 301091-94
In 2004 South Australian State Opera staged the country’s first home-grown Ring, a popular and critical hit, both for Elke Neidhardt’s vivid if sometimes campy production – trendy Valkyries drinking at the ‘Wunder Bar’ – and for international-quality musical values. Now Melba is releasing the recorded performances as the first-ever Ring on SACD; and this first instalment largely justifies the excitement.
The acclaimed young Israeli Asher Fisch provides a strong lynchpin, his tempos expansive and sweeping, yet generally maintaining the tension and momentum so essential to the Ring. He’s well matched by the spirited Adelaide orchestra and an almost entirely Australian cast, headed by Stuart Skelton and Deborah Riedel’s exceptional Volsung twins. Skelton’s Siegmund blends the lyrical and heroic compellingly, though he overextends his ‘Walse!’ cries; and Riedel’s passionate Sieglinde is one of the best on record. In the succeeding Acts, John Bröcheler, as in the Netherlands DVD Ring (Opus Arte), is a sturdy and expressive Wotan, if not over-subtle and prone to growl. Lisa Gasteen makes a more exciting Brünnhilde than at Covent Garden, amply powerful, thoroughly committed, but hampered by a rather reedy top; Siegfried’s annunciation is eclipsed by Riedel’s radiant rendition of ‘Oh, hehrstes Wunder!’. Her Valkyrie sisters are a lively bunch, Hunding (sung by Richard Green) and Fricka (Elizabeth Campbell) strong and serviceable.
The CD recording, too, is decent; but 5.1 channel surround-sound and SACD add another dimension entirely, a startling sense of space and detail, theatrical ambience and orchestral sound – along, inevitably, with stray stage noises and audience giggles at inappropriate moments. Nevertheless, this is the most recommendable of recent Walküres, and whets the appetite for the complete Ring. Michael Scott Rohan