About Superconductor

Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2016 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Metropolitan Opera Preview: Götterdämmerung

The last chapter of Wagner's Ring returns for another burn.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The Gibichung Hall in Act II of the Met's new Götterdämnerung.
Photo by Ken Howard © 2012 The Metropolitan Opera.
The six-hour final chapter of Wagner's Ring is in some ways the most conventional opera of the four. That's because Götterdämmerung (the title translates as Twilight of the Gods, though the opera was originally called Siegfried's Death) was the first libretto written. Twenty-four years later, this was also the last opera of the Ring to be completed, so it has the most complex music.

In Wagner's late style the famous leitmotivs are no longer just musical signposts. Instead, they comprise the very fabric of the work itself, moving like complex towers of sound built from different musical ideas. The first act is over two hours, with no stops. Act II is one of the most exciting acts in opera. And the third ends with the glorious double climax: the death of Siegfried and the suicide and redemption of Brunnhilde.

Deborah Voigt needs every bit of vocal stamina and tone to sing Brunnhilde and soar through the finale. She platoons with soprano Katherine Dalayman. Two tenors: Jay Hunter Morris and Lars Claveman split the Siegfrieds. Hans-Peter König is fine casting as Hagen, the son of the evil dwarf Alberich (Eric Owens).

You can read a review of opening night from Jan. 11, 2012, here.

Götterdämmerung opens April 23, 2013.

Recording Recommendations:
Given its sheer epic scale, Götterdämmerung is a tough opera to record. But there are some good versions of the opera available. Here's two:

Vienna Philharmonic cond. Sir Georg Solti (Decca, 1962)
Siegfried: Wolfgang Windgassen
Brunnhilde: Birgit Nilsson
Hagen: Gottlob Frick
Often imitated, never bettered: this is the best chapter of the legendary "Solti Ring." Birgit Nilsson sings up a storm, opposite Wolfgang Windgassen, captured in his prime as Siegfried. The Gibichungs are very strong, with Gottlob Frick as the evil Hagen and Dietrich Fischer Dieskau as Gunther, the Gibichung king with the spine of a jellyfish.

Dresden Staatskapelle cond. Marek Janowski (Eurodisc/RCA, 1983)
Siegfried: Rene Kollo
Brunnhilde: Jeanine Altmeyer
Hagen: Matti Salminen
A strong entry from Dresden, with Mr. Janowski leading that fine orchestra in an idiomatic performance of the score. This was the first digital Ring. René Kollo is surprising as Siegfried. Jeanine Altmeyer, graduating to Brunnhilde, does a good job in the studio setting. The set also features Finnish bass Matti Salminen as Hagen, the embodiment of operatic evil. Available only as part of a budget box complete cycle, which is also pretty good.

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

My photo

Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.