Unfortunately this happened to be even worse than Das Rheingold
Die Walkure is an amazing opera, with some of the best music Wagner ever wrote. Siegfried only just edges it out as my favourite of the Ring Cycle, but Die Walkure always struck me as the most accessible. Before I'd seen this Weimar production, I'd seen the 1990 Met, 1992 Bayreuth and 1980 Chereau-directed performances, which I loved, 2011 Met and 2009 Valencia productions which I liked, the 2006 Copenhagen which I had mixed feelings on and the 2004 Stuttgart performance which I didn't like very much. I was hoping things would improve after the very disappointing Das Rheingold from Weimar. Sadly, I found their Walkure even worse and for me it is the worst Walkure I've seen(I haven't yet seen Liceu's but I cannot imagine it being worse).
It has brownie points for the powerful enough orchestral playing, though Wotan's Farewell didn't move me anywhere near as much as it should, Carl St Clair's conducting which is never plodding or too rushed and Catherine Foster's thrillingly sung and acted Brunnhilde. Not to mention the magnificent music, but no matter how bad the production is the music cannot be criticised ever in my eyes.
Renatus Meszar vocally is much more suited than Mario Hoff in Rheingold, who even for a younger Wotan was too light and lyric. Meszar's voice is darker and more noble-sounding. There is however a problem, dramatically Meszar is nowhere near authoritative or eloquent enough, which diminishes his Act 2 monologue and his big final scene significantly. Erin Caves's Siegmund is well-sung with the best diction of the cast but not heroic enough, while the Sieglinde of Kirsten Blanck was affecting but lacking in vocal ardour. Catherine Hansmann's Fricka is suitably shrewish but her voice shows a lot of shrillness here, which I didn't find as apparent in Rheingold. Hidekazu Tsumaya's Hunding is better focused vocally than his wobbly(this includes physically also) Fafner in Rheingold, but I still find his voice too light for a role that does I feel need a very black-hearted voice and spoilt by idiotic stage direction he isn't threatening enough.
But the cast's shortcomings are nothing compared to the visuals. The sets and costumes are once again ugly-looking and far too small in scale. Also what is done with Wotan's eye patch is inconsistent, either keep it on and take it off and leave it off, in my mind you can't do both. The staging was really bizarre and added nothing to the drama, which generally just wasn't there. And no I don't just mean the Ride of the Valkyries staged as a dormitory pillow fight. The rams in spectacles and the omnipresent appearances of the elderly woman, which I believe was Grane were particularly mystifying.
All in all, really dull and unsatisfying visually, vocally(apart from one or two exceptions) and dramatically. Only the good if not brilliant musical values redeemed this Walkure. 3/10 Bethany Cox
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