The least effective of the Copenhagen Ring Cycle, but still more than watchable
Die Walkure has some of Wagner's most juicy music(Wotan's Farewell ties with the Meistersinger Quintet as my all-time favourite Wagner opera scene) and is perhaps the most accessible opera of the Ring Cycle. Once again, the 2006 Copenhagen Walkure is not as good as the 1980 Chereau-Boulez(the best production of that cycle, especially for Salminen's Hunding), the 1990 Met and 1992 Bayreuth productions but is miles ahead of the dull Stuttgart performance.
The production is not without hindrances. Aside from the panoramic waterfront view at the start, the video directing while marginally better than that of Das Rheingold is still relying too much on close-ups and has a shaky feeling at times, lacking focus. The staging on the whole is not bad, it is very convincing with Wotan and Fricka, but with Siegmund and Sieglinde and Wotan and Brunnhilde it never quite seems to function. With the former I think the main problem was Gitta-Maria Sjoberg's Sieglinde, who I never felt truly moved by and her singing is not large enough, consequently it lacks radiance and comes across as shrill. In regard to the latter, Wotan's monologue in Act 2 is very well sung but Kasper Holten's direction of the singers is not as interesting as what was done with Loge and especially Alberich in Das Rheingold, and the unforgettably moving scene between Wotan and Erda in Siegfried.
On the other hand, the production values while not traditional, the Met production is the only production available that fits that criteria, don't suffer from being too ugly, works well within Holten's concept and don't cheapen the production like the Stuttgart productions did. The best was Sieglinde's suitably claustrophobic home. The sound quality is glorious, making the orchestral playing powerful and soaring when it should be and Michael Schwonwandt's conducting shows attention to musical and dramatic detail and is never too passive. Staging-wise, Ride of the Valkyries is a little claustrophobic but better than the Met(one of the few let-downs of that cycle of productions) and Stuttgart's and I felt the idea of Sieglinde pulling the sword out of the tree didn't make sense, but the scene where Brunnhilde foretells Siegmund's death was very well done indeed. The performances are generally very good.
A definite standout was the truly evil Hunding of Stephen Milling, vocally resonant and dramatically unyielding. James Johnson's Wotan is a vast improvement over Johan Reuter's in Rheingold. The voice is not large as such but beautiful and not too taxed, and dramatically he is noble, charming and cynical. Stig Anderssen is an excellent actor and while occasionally strained(though not as bad as in the first act of Gotterdammerung) and his make-up makes him look older than he and the character actually is he doesn't resort to bellowing. Irene Theorin's shining moment of the three productions Brunnhilde is part is was the Immolation scene in Gotterdammerung, but the singing is powerful and mostly on-pitch and she is a commanding actress especially when she foretells Siegmund's death. Randi Stene is not quite as brilliant as Anna Larsson for Valencia, but she is still an elegant and witty Fricka.
In conclusion, a watchable production certainly but direction-wise the least effective of the Copenhagen Ring productions. 6/10 Bethany Cox
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