SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews

Wagner’s Die Walküre (complete) Bavarian State Opera/Zubin Mehta

Live recording in DVD-A & DTS 5.1 surround with stills of the production onscreen

Published on June 1, 2005

Wagner’s Die Walküre (complete) Bavarian State Opera/Zubin Mehta
RICHARD WAGNER: Die Walküre – Bayerische Staatsoper / Zubin
Mehta, conductor;  Siegmund – Peter Seiffert; Sieglinde – Waltraud
Meier; Wotan – John Tomlinson; Brünnhilde – Gabriele Schnaut; Hunding –
Kurt Rydl; Fricka: Mihoko Fujimura; (live recording) – Farao Classics,
DVD with DTS 5.1 surround, PCM stereo, and DVD-A surround, 3:45:43; ***:

Culled from three live performances at the 2002 Munich Opera Festival,
this 3-DVD set of a new production of Die Walküre provides much
enjoyment for the Wagnerite. With an ever-changing parade of still
images from the production and adequate, if not excellent singing, this
performance keeps the listener interested in the music and slide show
for nearly four hours of dramatic action.

The stage sets leave much to be desired (they are dull and poorly
designed), but the vivid singing, coupled with the surround sound,
gives this performance an immediacy and clarity that are rare in
ordinary CD recordings. The orchestra, however, frequently sounds
muffled rather than crisp. [It might improve in DVD-A; I am reviewing only in DTS surround] The conducting by Mehta is brisk and
colorful (the strings are particularly satisfying) but lacks the depth
and grandeur that Wagner’s music requires. Mehta supports the singers
well, without overpowering them.

Steiffert as Siegmund is in good heroic voice, with nary a hint of the
vulnerability of a wounded hero. Throughout the first two acts, he
sings at the top of his lungs, never faltering or slowing down; too bad
that subtleties are lost on him. Meier as Sieglinde is too angular in
Act 1, although she does her best to soften the hard edges of her
voice. In Act 2 her singing finally acquires a round, soft, and
jewel-like quality that is attractive. Schnaut as Brünnhilde, although
adequate in the role, is long past her prime, with the attendant
ponderous wobble in her voice and some shrill and flat notes. The most
successful performance is by Tomlinson, who has terrific German diction
for a nonnative speaker. His raw and wild quality, like that of a
prehistoric man, is wholly appropriate for Wotan, if not always
pleasant. Tomlinson is so much in the moment that one can’t help but
fall in love with his rough singing.

- Dalia Geffen




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