LABELS: Arthaus Musik
ALBUM TITLE: Wagner: Götterdammerung
PERFORMER: Lance Ryan, Gerd Grochowski, Iréne Theorin etc; Orchestra and Chorus of the Teatro alla Scala/Daniel Barenboim; dir. Guy Cassiers
CATALOGUE NO: DVD: 101 696; Blu-ray: 108 093
The final instalment of La Scala’s Ring cycle displays similar strengths and weaknesses to its predecessors. Its greatest asset is Daniel Barenboim’s conducting, less vigorous perhaps than his Bayreuth cycle but generally more fluent and sweeping, with fewer abrupt tempo changes, and the La Scala orchestra in good form. Their chorus, though, needs an injection
of younger voices, and the soloists
Soprano Iréne Theorin’s Brünnnilde is if anything better than predecessor Nina Stemme, fuller of tone and less effortful, amply passionate but with a commanding gravitas in her final scene. Unfortunately close-ups are less kind to her than stage distance. Lance Ryan’s voice has degenerated since his promising Valencia Siegfried, now dry and leathery and unevenly pitched; and he’s not an ingratiating actor, with a sneer so habitual one watcher mistook him for Hagen – actually the blandly beefy Mikhail Petrenko, a smooth basso cantante with barely enough power and stodgy characterisation. Gerd Grochowski is a decent Gunther, Anna Samuil’s Gutrune and Third Norn likewise. The Rhinemaidens are fine, but best of all are Waltraud Meier’s Waltraute and Second Norn, and Johannes Martin Kränzle, Glyndebourne’s Beckmesser, singing Alberich with a horrid vitality that shows up the rest.
Guy Cassiers’s production, as before, veers between the effective and the idiotic, set against backgrounds of imaginative, often atmospheric laser projections. Rheingold’s writhing dancers also make unwelcome reappearances. Against that, moments like the Norns’ scene are quite effective, and with Barenboim in command this remains an interesting, sometimes involving performance.
It just could have been better.
Michael Scott Rohan