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Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Last Ring, Part II: Siegfried

Jon Frederic West as Siegfried.
Photo © 2009 by Beatriz Schiller

Thursday night's performance of Siegfried (the last ever at the Met in this current production) continued what has been a strong Ring Cycle. This Siegfried was anchored by superb orchestral playing, the unforgettable Wanderer of James Morris, and the burly, pouting lad of the title role, sung ably by American heldentenor Jon Frederic West.

West sang well in this most punishing of roles. His voice has a firm metallic bite, and he excels in the soft passages where lyricism is required to probe the psyche of Wagner's titular knucklehead. He evolves from pouting brat to manly hero, throwing himself into the part with abandon. While West is not the next incarnation of Max Lorenz or Lauritz Melchior, he is an able Siegfried.

He was surrounded by an excellent cast, led by Morris' resonant Wanderer. Although the bass-baritone did not seem as comfortable vocally as he did in Walküre, sounding harsh and pinched in the riddle scene and in his confrontation with Erda, this was still a memorable performance, and possibly the great singer's last bow with spear and eye-patch at the Met.

Linda Watson reprised her lyrical Brünnhilde, with gorgeous tone and sweet notes in the very long duet. Robert Brubaker's Mime was an able foil for West, eliciting genuine laughs from the audience. And Richard Paul Fink's Alberich continued to be a highlight of this cycle.

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