A step down from Das Rheingold and Die Walkure, but still has some impressive things
Although I love all four operas of Wagner's Ring Cycle, I consider Siegfried to be my favourite. All have amazing music, timeless characters and compelling stories, but Forest Murmur, the conjuring of the Waldvogel, the scene between Wanderer and Erda, the battle with Fafner and the final scene are all among the best Wagner ever composed. This production is good and worth watching, but not the best I've seen on DVD(the 1993 Bayreuth). Nothing is awful, but a couple of assets are uneven.
The uneven assets for me were some of the staging and Siegfried himself. Starting with Siegfried, Lance Ryan is appropriately intense and heroic, but while the voice is strong it is also unattractive and has a tendency to sound strained. As for the staging, there are some good parts such as the exciting conjuring up of the Waldvogel, the long but truly amazing final scene and the encounter between Wanderer and Erda which is suitably touching. However, there are some scenes that don't work, primarily the ridiculous and distracting inclusion of the crowd mimicking Siegfried during the forging of Notung, and the battle between Siegfried and Fafner, which was unimaginative and unexciting, and while not as badly done as the recent Met production Fafner is not very convincing, not sinister enough and too articulated.
I did think there were some neat visual ideas though. The images did enhance the action most of the time, the real ball of fire was a risk but one that paid off, the mountain projections were breathtaking to watch and the human beasts around Fafner's cave and the heads of Wanderer and Mime sitting around were used to good effect. The costumes are decent enough, though Siegfried's prehistoric-looking one takes some getting used to. The video directing is an improvement in my opinion over Die Walkure, which cut back a little too much, and the sound is excellent. The orchestral playing is lush, stirring and powerful, and while Zubin Mehta's conducting is not quite as inspired as Rheingold and Walkure but still alert and involving.
Other than Ryan, the singing is great. Stephen Milling is a more than adequate Fafner with a rich voice, but if Salminen had sung the role instead I think he could've been even more sinister. Jennifer Wilson is not as good as she was in Walkure but still in resplendent voice and thank goodness her breastplates have gone here. Juha Uusitalo is a firm, eloquent Wanderer, Catherine Wyn-Rogers is a warning Erda and Marina Zyatkova is a Waldvogel of clarity. Franz-Joseph Kappelmann is a skin-crawling Alberich, and Gerhard Sigel's Mime is both nasty and sympathetic.
All in all, has some impressive things overall and is good but just a slight let-down to Rheingold and Walkure. 7/10 Bethany Cox
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?