Sunday, July 15, 2012

Götterdämmerung from Munich

Andreas Kriegenburg is a very good opera director who started his career at a theater workshop in East Germany, and soon showed  that beyond his ``know how" in building the sets, there was a true talent for theater. Today he is one of the world's leading opera producers. His production of Otello in Berlin and especially his Wozzeck in Munich will remain as examples of how an opera director should work in order to make the shows both spectacular, innovative and dramatically engaging -- which is today almost impossible to see in any of the big opera houses worldwide.

Although the Munich Opera is getting increasingly fancy and less and less artistically compelling, the Kriegenburg Ring is definitely on the short-list of 'must see'  new opera productions in Europe. So we are lucky to be given to see today the live streaming from the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich of the new production of Götterdämmerung, with arguably the best Ring conductor today (contrary to the heartkess rendition of you-know-who), Kent Nagano, who will be leading the superb BSO orchestra, and a terrific cast that includes:   
Stephen Gould Siegfried, Nina Stemme Brünnhilde, Eric Halfvarson HagenWolfgang Koch Alberich, Michaela Schuster Waltraute, Iain Paterson Gunther, Anna Gabler Gutrune, Eri Nakamura WoglindeAngela Brower Wellgunde, Okka von der Damerau Floßhilde, Norn(s) Jill Grove, Irmgard Vilsmaier, Jamie Barton

It starts at 5 p.m. (CET). Here is your link.

Below are video clips (trailers, excerpts) from all four operas of the Kriegenburg Ring.


Johan Reuter and Sophie Koch...


Bravissima Anja Kampe!

A special treat: T.J. Mayer & K. Dalayman

KFV, superb as ever!


Love Catherine the Great Naglestad

Lance is born to sing this role! No one can sustain his level of singing intensity and being fully  scenically involved in a demanding production of Siegfried.

Catherine rocks! What an outstanding artist!


Stephen Gould and Nina Stemme... gotta love this!


 Et c'est parti!

Act One

  • I guess we're far too many trying to connect and listen to Stephen and Nina. As a result the stream gets interrupted from time to time. Love this opera... 
  • This orchestra is really fantastic and Kent Nagano is a magnificent conductor (I know I already said it...)
  • Siegfried arrives to Gibichungs -- archaic values, honesty and heroism become equivalent to naiveté in the world of modern sharks... If you ever get to see the Calixto Bieito production of  Der Fliegende Holländer in Stuttgart, you'll see that he (CB) predicted the financial meltdown. 
  • NB horse in the b/g
  • Greed indeed leads to perversions (again a reference to Calixto -- Armide @ KOB)
  • Notable weight loss on Iain Paterson, but always dramatically impeccable
  • I don't remember to have seen Hedda Anna Gabler singing before. I like what I can see and hear.
    Props to Andreas too who made her look far more multi-dimensional than what we are usually given to see from Gutrune in this opera.
  • Halfvarson is maybe not Hans Peter König, but he must sound great at the BSO auditorium anyway... 
  • This is a part of this opera that always rubs me the wrong way: as if perks and technology were in contradiction with basic values of honesty, sincerity... In every production this point comes across in that form, and it reminds me of another equally annoying cliché: rich are evil and poor are good. Blah!

  • Slightly overacting but otherwise brilliant monologue by Eric Halfvarson

  • Always awesome Michaela Schuster - als Waltraute

  •  Props to the cameraman and the crew who's in charge of filming! They really follow the text and try to capture the key details of the production (contrary to the exemplary bad filming of Fidelio, also streamed from Munich, last year). Here is a good example (Siegfried taking the Ring from Brünnhilde):

  • GO NINA!
  • End of Act one: superbly sung! Production is fine for the moment. The challenging stuff  comes in Act Three 

Act Two

  • Here comes Alberich... to visit his son Hagen and to light a cigar

  • Not surprisingly, Hagen is paying two hookers that he unknowingly spent a night with...
  • So far by far the best portrayed character is that of Gutrune. Great singing by Stephen Gould btw... 
  • Good work by Kriegenburg in reassembling the mafia of greedy businessmen of Gibichung on Hagen's call. Halfverson's on a roll!
  • Awesome chorus and --again-- superb Gutrune! 
  • Good going Andreas: great work in the scene of arrival of Brünnhilde with Gunther to Gibichung + encounter with Siegfried
  •  Iain Paterson is physically unrecognizable.

  • OK, despite my reserves concerning the interpretation of the Gibichung, I can see this verssion resonate well with public today. Even the worst financial speculators, after being intoxicated by the greed, at some point realize they have hearts.
    Dinner with Brünnhilde, Gunther and Hagen is dramatically the best moment of the show so far. Great acting from all three of them!
  •  Why is Gunther putting the wedding veil on? He's drunk? Or just realizing that this marriage is finished before it even started?! Great acting again (especially by Nina and Iain!)
  • SUPERB second act. The first act was fine but the real things started in the second. Excellent acting, brilliant singing, impeccable Nagano and Kriegenburg rocked.

  • Hope the level remains this high in the third!

Act Three

  • On we go! Probably the best Act of the whole Ring (or is it the first Act of Die Walküre?!)
  • I like the beginning of the 3rd: The Rhinemaidens come when everyone is sleeping after the long party-night. Siegfried is hangover...

  • Great job Andreas Kriegenburg! Excellent guidance and good acting by all 4 [Eri Nakamura!]

    Fantastic singing moment by the girls (Angela Brower and her luscious mezzo makes difference)
  •  Go Steve!
  • As far as the network of leitmotivs goes this Act is a treasury! Each time I listen to this I discover new leitmotivs that were hidden to me before... 
  • What about the "Perjury avenges itself" (or I have avenged perjury) line?! It definitely gets a huge spin of irony when used by Hagen (I must mention again Iain Paterson and his amazing scenic presence!)
  • I like the idea of the financial crash (or the colaps of the system). Yes, the greed drives them all but only some are evil... beyond greed. Now, is the spirit of Hagen inseparable from the very notion of corporate greed?!

    OR, greed on the expense of little people necessarily results in casualties.

  • AGAIN a multidimensional character of Gutrune! Bravo Andreas!

  • -

  •  Quel tour de force! What a giant lady singer this woman is!!!
  • And she returns the Ring to the Rhinemaidens

  • I knew it! I saw it right at the beginning: Kriegenburg sees the good in Gutrune. She's a complex woman. She has all the human qualities and defaults. She stays by Gunther to the very end. In the end she is alone. The world around her has crumbled.
  • The humanistic message prevails and beyond fire there is a new world and a new people who come to comfort Gutrune

Brilliant show that will hopefully heal my wounds from the atrocious production of Les Troyens at the ROH the other day.

Congrats to all the musicians, singers, chorus, the orchestra, to grandioso KENT NAGANO,  to  Andreas Kriegenburg and his production team!

And yes, a huge Thank You to the Bayerische Staatsoper for providing the web streaming and thus letting us all enjoy this helluva show!

Edit: Just found on the Internet the links to the audio files of this opera sung by the same cast a week ago: Act 1, Act 2, Act 3. Enjoy!

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