This production of Götterdammerung from Stuttgart starts well with bag lady Norns. It then switches to Brünnhilde's mountain-top, which is a kitchen table surrounded by a ring of paper flames. Siegfried, for some unknown reason, is dressed as Fred Flintsone, in bearskins. He goes off on his Rhine journey wearing what looks like Brünnhilde's breastplate, with sticky-out breasts.
Things improve in the Hall of the Gibichungs. Roland Bracht as Hagen, Herman Itturralde as Gunther and Eva-Maria Westbrook as Gutrune make a well-characterised trio of conspirators and are vocally in command of their parts. The amnesiac Siegfried's return to Brünnhilde and the mutual denunciations of Siegfried and Brünnhilde are clearly done, which is quite an accomplishment as this part of the proceedings can be rather confusing. I thought Luana DeVol, as Brünnhilde, was a little too acquiescent to her ravishment, dropping her knickers as she sings "What choice do I have, miserable woman?" The set for the Gibichung's hall is just a small plywood stage fronted by a black plastic curtain but it is quite effective. The Gibichungs and their servants all wear modern suits, in contrast to Siegfried's bearskin, and the large chorus is very effective. Similarly, the Rheinmaidens' scene is also effective, done against a simple rural back-projection they are able to dip into and out of an on-stage Rhine. I noticed that one of the maidens, Janet Collins did double duty as one of the Norns.
Thus far, the production is moderately effective having strong vocal performances with only two exceptions. Unfortunately, these two exceptions are Albert Bonnema's strangulated Siegfried and Luana DeVol's shrieky Brünnhilde. The production all goes pear-shaped when we reach Brünnhilde's immolation. The dead Siegfried and Gunther stand up and walk off the stage leaving Brünnhilde standing alone. The house lights come up as if she is giving a concert performance. Luana DeVol just cannot carry this scene on her own. I was distracted by the number of shining bald heads in the audience seen from the camera position at the back of the illuminated auditorium. I was also distracted by Brünnhilde's horse, which is a horse's head on a stick. As the scene ends, the director, Bert Neumann gives up entirely. The curtain descends and Wagner's stage directions describing the Rhine breaking its banks and Valhalla going up in flames are simply projected onto the curtain while the orchestra, under Lothar Zagrosek plays insipidly on. What an anticlimax after 16 hours of opera.
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