Wagner: Die Walküre: Act I

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LABELS: Teldec
WORKS: Die Walküre: Act I
PERFORMER: Plácido Domingo, Deborah Polaski, John Tomlinson; Berlin Staatskapelle/ Daniel Barenboim
CATALOGUE NO: 3984-23294-2
This recording was taken live from a concert performance at the Deutsche Staatsoper, Berlin, in November 1993, a year after Barenboim became its music director. Domingo had first sung Siegmund at the Vienna Opera in 1992 and was here making his Staatsoper debut. He and his colleagues go for it full out, maybe happy that the marathon of the whole opera was reduced to the exertions of a single act. This must have been an exciting occasion, even if its perpetuation on disc leaves much to be desired. It’s a bravura performance, but so moulded by Barenboim for moment-to-moment effectiveness that the inner life of this ravishing music is too seldom felt. Polaski, a natural Brünnhilde, lacks the tender, vulnerable quality for an ideal Sieglinde, though her bright, forward placing does bring something special to the role. Tomlinson, as always, is a model Hunding, chilling every word. Domingo is vibrant with passion from his very first phrase, but his relentless lyrical ardour soon exhausted this listener’s patience. He attempts only the most superficial expressive colouring, seldom daring to modulate the tone for fear of losing his heroic vocal placing. There’s no question that that’s phenomenal, but it isn’t enough for Wagner. Patrick Carnegy