, November 2009
Wagnerians are used to experimental, revisionist, and conjectural reinterpretations of the Master’s 10 core works, and we’d better be. You can go for a long time without seeing a Siegfried in pelts or a Brünnhilde with a winged helmet these days. That’s a good thing: we’d go crazy from boredom if it were any other way, given the frequency with which the dramas are offered in the theater and on silver disc. It is prosaic to note that Wagner’s art accommodates a remarkably wide range of reimaginings on the part of talented directors, designers, and conductors…Best is Erin Caves’s Loge, a commanding presence both vocally and dramatically. His extended speech in scene 2 of Rheingold is easily the most compelling singing in that opera; especially rewarding is the passage when Loge observes that the gods are fading away without Freia’s nourishing apples…Caves is wonderful with Siegmund’s quieter music, such as the act II, scene 4 exchange with Brünnhilde. Kirsten Blanck portrays a small, sad Sieglinde, clearly damaged goods. Hidekazu Tsumaya is a formidable Hunding…the English soprano Catherine Foster [Brünnhilde] does a respectable job, especially in act III of Walküre, addressing her boiling-mad father with quiet tenderness without seeming defeated. Her strong connection to the texts is sensed as she instructs Sieglinde in the course she must take to save her unborn son. Nadine Weissmann, as Erda, sings with a beautiful solemnity for her brief appearance in Rheingold’s final scene. Frider Aurich’s Mime sounds plenty abused.