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I love and appreciate Wagner's music, and likewise with the Ring Cycle. I do slightly prefer Rheingold, Walkure and Siegfried over Gotterdammerung, but Gotterdammerung is still great, especially for the final scene and the character of Hagen. This production is not the best Gotterdammerung I've seen, that's the Barenboim-conducted one from Bayreuth despite the underwhelming ending. However, it has a lot of good things, and a step in the right direction, as far as the Valencia productions of the Ring Cycle go it is not as good as Walkure but more even than Siegfried.
Visually, Gotterdammerung doesn't quite have the interesting touches that Rheingold for example did with the descending into Nieblungen, but the projected backdrops are of high quality and thankfully don't distract, and the costumes and staging are all convincing, with the standout being the breathtaking destruction of Valhalla. In regard to this point only the lacklustre opening disappoints with the scene with the Nord Sisters not intense enough. The sound is astonishingly realistic though, and the picture quality bright and clear. The video directing is not as good as that of Rheingold and Siegfried, in fact of the four productions the worst video directing was in Gotterdammerung in my opinion, with too many close ups and cut backs which undermined scenes like Siegfried's Rhine Journey severely.
Musically, it is next to faultless. The orchestra are lush and powerful under the alert and involved conducting of Zubin Mehta flowing more it did in Rheingold for example. The performances are of excellent quality, though I am still mixed on Lance Ryan. The intensity and heroism are there, but the tone is often unattractive with some strident phrasing. This was especially true in the Prologue. The performance did improve, but for me it was never outstanding, just competent.
Catherine Wyn-Rogers is a beautifully sung and intense Waltraute. Her scene with Brunnhilde is short but important. Franz-Joseph Kappelmann's Alberich is just a cameo really but the skin-crawling presence is still there. Ralf Lukas is a powerful Gunther, and Elisabete Matos shows sorrow over Siegfried's death very effectively. The Norn Sisters, with the suspended staging for them very effective, are good and well blended, even with some occasional tremulous vocals from the first Nord. The Rhinedaughters are truly excellent as well, their vocals and aquatic skills amaze and they are sexy.
This Gotterdammerung had two performances that really stood out though. Jennifer Wilson showed real promise in Die Walkure, but it is Gotterdammerung where this huge role comes into her own, and so did Wilson. The voice is powerful without resorting to screeching or the like, and she is a powerful presence. The Immolation scene was her at her very best in this role, moving and thrilling. And then there is the terrifyingly evil Hagen- looking very like a mafia gangster boss- of Matti Salminen, for me the best performance of the four productions, while his voice was in slightly better shape in the 1990 Met production, where he was the best asset of that production as well as the same character, he becomes this evil-incarnate character and the result is unforgettable.
All in all, very good and for the Valencia productions it was a step in the right direction, better than the production before it without outdoing the first two of the Cycle. 7.5/10 Bethany Cox
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