Wagner: Siegfried

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Wagner
LABELS: Arthaus Musik DVD
ALBUM TITLE: Wagner: Siegfried
WORKS: Siegfried
PERFORMER: Lance Ryan etc; Orchestra of the Teatro alpa Scala/Daniel Barenboim; dir. Guy Cassiers
CATALOGUE NO: DVD: 101 695 blu-ray: 108092

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This is in many ways an impressive performance, above all on the part of Daniel Barenboim, the leading living Wagner conductor, and his marvellous La Scala orchestra. Not only does Barenboim have complete control of the shape of Wagner’s enormous acts, but there are enormous numbers of details, often witty and pertinent, and immense climaxes, which seems to accumulate over long stretches of the score. Much of the singing is fine, some magnificent. Bass-baritone Terje Stensvold’s Wanderer/Wotan (this is a Ring cycle with three different Wotans) almost steals the show
with his lofty grandeur barely concealing anxiety and exhaustion, and all the scenes with him in them are riveting, especially the Act II confrontation with the Alberich of bass-baritone Johannes Martin Kränzle, and the Act III scene with contralto Anna Larsson’s surprisingly glamorous Erda. Glamour is also there in the Woodbird we see, clad as if for a grand ball; but the role is sung by someone else. It’s a mistake to have a visible Woodbird, since it lessens the shock for Siegfried of seeing Brünnhilde – any woman – for the first time. Soprano Nina Stemme is superb, flawless. Tenor Peter Bronder’s Mime, the nervous bespectacled reading of the part, is funny and sinister, as he should be. Siegfried: tenor Lance Ryan sings loudly throughout, no mean achievement in opera’s longest role. But there isn’t much use made of the words, some of which are oddly pronounced, and I find the quality of his voice less than pleasant, often tight and harsh; but vigour is there, and commitment. The production, all endlessly changing projections, becomes wearing and distracting. I shall listen to this DVD again, but probably not watch it.

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Michael Tanner