Review: 'Götterdämmerung' had bright, fiery moments and a few low notes, too
Review: It was a highly variable "Götterdämmerung," one with many felicities of staging and singing, but also lots of problems.
Special to The Seattle Times
"Der Ring des Nibelungen"Presented by Seattle Opera, through Aug. 30, McCaw Hall, Seattle Center. Limited tickets are still available; call for details: 206-389-7676 or www.seattleopera.org.
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Opera Review |
The world ended late Friday evening in McCaw Hall, but not without a few unscheduled delays. Between acts in Seattle Opera's "Götterdämmerung," company general director Speight Jenkins took the stage to apologize for "gremlins in the house" — computer problems that held up the scene-shifting so long that conductor Robert Spano had to stop the orchestra twice. It's the first time in 27 "Rings" that I've seen this happen, and while it certainly didn't ruin this mammoth show depicting the destruction and redemption of a corrupt world, it was nonetheless disconcerting.
It was a highly variable "Götterdämmerung," one with many felicities of staging and singing, but also lots of problems. It's not a good sign when the most exciting voice on the stage is singing the smaller dual roles of Second Norn and Waltraute. Stephanie Blythe just blew everybody else right off the stage, not just with her voice's tremendous amplitude, but also with the genuinely artful shaping of every line she sang.
As Siegfried, tenor Stig Andersen reportedly has still not recovered completely from the viral infection that plagued him on Wednesday, though he sounded stronger and more secure. On Friday, he dodged a lot of the high notes (including both Cs) and sang the others with obvious effort. Surprisingly, some of his most beautiful singing came after many hours of performance — in Siegfried's death scene, which Andersen made genuinely moving.
In the two previous operas, soprano Janice Baird had created a mixed impression as Brünnhilde: a spectacular top register, some unevenness and control issues in the middle and a wide vibrato throughout. Her "Götterdämmerung" performance was not her best, particularly in the all-important Immolation scene (where weak, off-pitch singing in the middle register wasn't fully redeemed by a stronger, high-lying finale). Conductor Spano didn't help matters by keeping the generally excellent orchestra at roughly the same volume level throughout much of the opera, regardless of the size and onstage placement of the voices.
Daniel Sumegi was a commendable, active Hagen; Gordon Hawkins was a complex, tormented Gunther, and Marie Plette made a lovely, empathetic Gutrune. Richard Paul Fink's reliably excellent Alberich and the other two Norns (Luretta Bybee and Margaret Jane Wray) also were standouts, as were the three Rhinemaidens (Julianne Gearhart, Michele Losier and Jennifer Hines), in one of the most charmingly staged scenes in the show.
The chorus looked and sounded both well-schooled and energetic. Thomas Lynch's sets and Stephen Wadsworth's direction ensured there was something lovely to look at every minute, along with some of the most beautiful music ever written. And let's hope the stage gremlins have left the building, in time for the two remaining "Rings."
Melinda Bargreen: email@example.com
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