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Actfive
Parterre Box, November 2009

It must be said that the opera contains some magnificent musical passages, particularly the orchestral interludes. The prelude to Act III is particularly complex, expressive, and beautiful. Verena’s song about a blind bird in Act I is lyrically lovely, and the Count’s music when he attempts to seduce Verena is particularly haunting and passionate. Much of Verena’s music in Act III, too, is melodic, emotionally clear, and inventive…In the pivotal role of Verena, the production happily has the soprano Rebecca Broberg, who gives a nuanced, powerful performance. She is a capable actress and a most expressive singer throughout her range, with excellent phrasing and emotional clarity. I also much liked the dark-voiced Regina Mauel as Verena’s mother Gertrud, though her singing is limited to Act I.



Christopher Williams
Fanfare, September 2009

The singing is often quite excellent, especially the Philadelphian soprano Rebecca Broberg, who builds from strength to strength in the grueling central role of the girl Verena…

Verena’s mother Gertrud, powerfully sung by Regina Mauel, is harsh, brutal, and mistrustful. She clearly is tormented by some distant event.

It is in the portrayal of the goblins that Pachl’s direction is both most bizarre and most persuasive. © 2009 Fanfare Read complete review



John Yohalem
California Chronicle, September 2009

Der Kobold (The Goblin) is Siegfried [Wagner]’s second opera, from 1903, and it’s said to have been his favorite. The heroine, Verena, is an innocent in the tradition of Elsa, as the music makes quite clear: the opera opens with the same chord as Lohengrin and proceeds with a similar orchestral sheen. But the missing brother this time is an infant buried in the cellar, who returns (in Verena’s dreams) as a goblin. The story is Lohengrin fraught with neurotic sub-text: there are enough symbols to make Die Frau ohne Schatten seem crystal clear…Der Kobold is lovingly performed on its debut recording by a young, robust cast…Rebecca Broberg brings a large, flowing soprano (an Elsa sound) to Verena, and Regina Mauel is impressive as Gertrud, her mother. Achim Hoffmann sings the most attractive of the comedians…Martina Borst has great fun with her gurgling mezzo as the wicked Countess. Frank Strobel conducts the elaborately layered score beautifully.



David Denton
David's Review Corner, January 2009

I suppose Siegfried Wagner’s place in history will survive as the person who rescued the Bayreuth Festival from extinction and as conductor and producer  ensured the future of his father’s music. That would be sad, as the illegitimate child of Richard and Cosima von Bulow was a gifted composer. This DVD of his most extended score for Der Kobold, an opera completed in 1903, its strange libretto—also by Siegfried—a mix of fantasy and reality, with the magic stone at the centre of the story, having strong relationship with the gold in his father’s Ring of the Nibelung. The story is convoluted, but stripped down to its basic ingredients relates the troubled dreams of Verena who sees herself surrounded  by goblins, though she later realises that they are souls of murdered babies. Only when the last born child of one who has murdered a baby has gone to the grave will the dead be atoned and the ‘goblins’ relieved of their eternal suffering. Verena slowly comes to terms that as a young girl he mother used to beat her until one day she lost a lot of blood. That must have been an unborn baby and she has to be the sacrifice. I would warn that this production, by Peter Pachl for the Stadttheatre Furth, has the disturbing scene of the naked dead bodies babies, and gratuitous nudity in the second act. It is an extremely long opera of almost three and a half hours, and would have benefitted from many cuts where the story waffles on. That said, Siegfried was a very competent composer, and there is a great deal of imaginative writing for both singers and orchestra. It uses a large cast of fourteen soloists, and throughout is very well sung. Rebecca Bromberg’s Verena is smooth and powerful in equal quantities and has impeccable intonation, Volker Horn is in fine voice as Friedrich her beloved. Wagner expected much of the orchestra and the Nuremberg Symphony, under Frank Strobel, deliver the goods with admirable security. I am not sure why two different venues and two different dates were required. Certainly the singers seem to be miming, though that may well be that sound and pictures are not perfectly synchronised. Filming is well achieved both in colour and balance, while the sound is much better than you expect from a theatre recording.





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