The Ring Cycle is the very definition of epic and monumental. Siegfried is the third and perhaps my personal favourite. Wotan's Farewell ties with the Rhine motif and Hagen's call as my favourite motif/scene from the Ring Cycle, but I find Siegfried with the Forest Murmer especially to have the most beautiful music. This is a terrific production, not quite as good as the triumphant Das Rheingold but a little better than the very impressive but occasionally problematic Die Walkure(can't wait to see Gotterdamerung tonight)
Robert Lepage still continues to impress with his very technical and ambitious approach to the staging. Das Rheingold and Die Walkure were visually impressive but occasionally had moments that detracted from Wagner's music, but Siegfried just blew me away. There was only bit of staging that didn't work at all, and the production's biggest let down, and that was Fafner's slaying, going downhill from when he appears and right from the paper-mache head, the yellow eyes and dangling appearance he looked really fake especially against the computerised forest. The way Siegfried's triumph was staged(in shadow) deflated the drama severely.
I however loved everything else though. The sets were huge and really gave the sense that they were obstacles to the characters, especially with Siegfried. I loved that. In the previous Ring productions, Lepage brought forward some really interesting and clever visual ideas, such as with the Rhinedaughters in Rheingold and the golden eye in Walkure. As much as I loved the reflecting pool and the Grimm fairytale-like feel, my favourite was the cinematic trick of the forest rotating up, almost like it was in the sky.
Musically, it is outstanding. The music is so fantastic, not just the Forest Murmur but also the forging sword song Notung! and Fafner's entrance(in the second movement of Mahler's 4th Symphony there is even a bit that actually sounds like this part of the opera). The orchestra were simply divine, giving the difficult score a beautiful, haunting and altogether powerful sound. Fabio Luisi's conducting is fluid and enigmatic, on par with Levine's conducting for Rheingold(Levine also conducted Die Walkure, and while there were several great moments I found his conducting in the 1990 production more even).
The singing is equally so. Jay Hunter Morris is marvellous, I imagine Siegfried as the sort of characters who grows throughout the opera and Morris does that exactly, starting off youthful and by Act 3 he was the epitome of masculine strength. His voice has both the brutish strength of a Heldentenor and the beautiful tone of a lyric, full of brightness and attention to musicality. Gerhard Siegel is Mime, playing Siegfried's guardian with a twitchy nature and straggly hair Siegel shows that he is a gifted actor and that he has a well-projected voice.
Bryn Terfel is a very strong Wanderer. His singing is firm and incisive if just lacking the tone colour he brought to Die Walkure. He was just as impressive in his acting, playing the Wanderer as both majestic and troubled. I liked Mojca Erdmann very much as Zerlina in Don Giovanni, and while her singing of the wood bird is offstage, it is just as wise and beautiful as it should be, with some very characterful chirping.
Eric Owens' Alberich has a presence that makes the skin crawl, and the voice is booming and sonorous, deep and rich also. In short, it is a brilliant and quite creepy performance. And then there is the Brunhilde of Deborah Voight, and I think she sings more beautifully than in Die Walkure. Her chemistry with Morris is very touching, and he with her. Some may find the scene tiresome especially as the opera is so long, but I find it riveting, especially true here.
Overall, another great Ring production from the Met. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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