Thursday 7 July 2005

Memories of Siegfried

Well my trawl through the Ring cycle reached Siegfried, not my favourite of operas and one which seems to yield fewer visual memories. Rene Kollo was a revelation in the title role at Covent Garden (in the 2nd Goetz Friedrich Ring); quite mature when he took the role he created a believable young Siegfried, despite an unbecoming boiler suit.

It was Friedrich, of course, who created the most exciting, mechnical Fafner in his first Covent Garden Ring; driven by the singer playing the role - some wonderful pure theatre. One of this same Ring's most memorable moments was Wotan (Donald MacIntyre) going in search of Erda. The platform tilted so that the front nearly reached the podium and Wotan climbed up as it rose till he was perched on the top, leaning over looking into the innards of the hydraulic mechanism where Erda had her lair; a thrilling moment. This was the production where Wotan seemed to express emotion by falling over, MacIntyre must have been black and blue by the time he finished.

For Brunnhilde's awakening, no-one could beat Gwynneth Jones, you really believed that she was awakening after 20 years. And who can forget her and Siegfried throwing her armour around like children

Also memorable was the production at La Scala. The Valkyrie rock was a vast field of poppies which appeared gradually from the back of the stage. Brunnhilde was nowhere in sight, till you realised that she was covered by the grass and the poppies. As she stirred there was an audible reaction in the audience as they realised that this Brunnhilde was one big woman - it was Jane Eaglen, in stunning form. Mind you, this brief reaction over, they loved her.

One another subject, did anyone see Norman Lebrecht's amazing diatribe against Australian arts administrators in yesterday's London Evening Standard; its on-line here, at La Scena Musicale. His weekly columns are always controversial, but sometimes I feel that he is picking on a subject for pillorying just for the sake of it. I do hope that someone publishes a reasoned rebuttal.

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