Thursday, August 13, 2015

Die Walküre - Bayreuther Festspiele 2015

A conservative production: behind all the frenzy, oil motive stroyline, and Aleksandar Denić's amazing stage of an oil drilling tower set in Baku, the capital city of Azerbaijan, Castorf's second opera of the Ring is actually a very conservative production. No stupid or funny or exaggerated stage direction for the singers or supernumeraries. 

The first act. Sieglinde found Siegfried. Hunding came. Some actions on stage are shot by cameras and projected to a an integrated white fabric on a stage's side. The love couple sang their love duet, confessed their love in front of a barn (?), in which Siegmund pulled out Nothung from an unclear object (my seat is definitely not the best in the house). 

The second act offers nothing new. Castorf seemed to concentrate on the main story and the interaction between the characters. Beside Fricka wearing a semi-burka and the high oil drilling tower finally revealed in all its glory, there's nothing new here.

In the third act, a drilling rig came to play: a fancy toy on stage without meaning or use or coherency to the Wotan monologue. Brünnhilde didn't leave Wotan, she went to sleep in the house/workshop/oil workshop/whatever while Wotan created a fire ring on top of an oil barrel. The end. 

Johan Botha and Anja Kampe as the love couple gave a very strong performance, which is no surprise at all, they've interpreted these roles in many big houses worldwide for the last decade. Botha, due to his body size, seemed unfit in Castorf's energetic and active choreography of the singers. But I guess it's secondary.
Kwangchul Youn has interpreted Hunding for so many times in Bayreuth, he doesn't need a review or feedback anymore. Very brilliant, as usual & always. 

Wolfgang Koch was amazing. Charismatic voice, mild but declarative in his final monologue. 
Catherine Foster is definitely one of the best Brünnhilde of our time. Between Evelyn Herlitizius and Irene Theorin, I could see her as the fittest for the production. The voice was great, the stage presence was very strong. Castorf's direction sometimes made her less of the usual Brünnhilde we know of; less fierce, more like an oppressed daughter of Wotan. 

Claudia Mahnke was our Fricka and Waltraute. Along with the others Valkyries, she has done a great job. All the Valkyries sang in harmony, with some minor flaws in the tempo. But if you see the complex action they should do on stage, you'll tolerate that.

Kirill Petrenko is just great. All the tempo, all the romantic scenes between Siegmund-Sieglinde & Wotan-Brünnhilde, all are calculated. He could really play with silence and ecstatic part (Walkürentritt/ Ride of the Valkyries) of the score very well indeed.

Resume: big opera night, Castorf is unusually mild, bravo to all.

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