Die Walküre Casts Its Magical Fire Spell
|Grimsley and Goerke, photo @ Richard Termine|
I'd normally be skeptical of such a gushfest when said singer posting the gushfest is the Brünnhilde of the production. Of course she's going to tell people to come see her sing! But after tonight's performance of Die Walküre I felt the same sense of awe that Goerke expressed. Because the cast was amazing, the conductor led a gripping, thrilling performance that made the five hours fly by. And get thee to a movie theater on Saturday March 30 for the HD because if you don't, you're really missing out.
The biggest star of the night was the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, led by Philippe Jordan. Jordan's interpretation of the score is what I'd call cinematic -- if you're looking for beautiful Karajan-like soundscapes this is not the Walküre for you. A few times the orchestra sounded a bit raw. But if you' like Wagner to be conducted like a battle episode of Game of Thrones, then Jordan's vivid, exciting account was a revelation. Even when nothing onstage was happening Jordan was constantly highlighting the stories Wagner was telling in his orchestration. As I said, the five hours flew by. I hope they bring back Jordan to conduct more -- he was interesting and never boring.
|Goerke, photo @ Richard Termine|
It wasn't just Goerke's voice that was a great fit for the Valkyrie. Anyone who follows Goerke on social media knows that she has a lively sense of humor. There was a similar joie de vivre to her Brünnhilde. I'd rarely call any Wagnerian portrayal "bubbly" but Goerke was exactly that. She stepped onstage, and we loved her. You could see why she was Wotan's favorite, and why her Valkyrie sisters protect her. Brünnhilde's warmth made her journey compelling and tragic -- indeed, for the rest of the Ring Cycle Brünnhilde never shows the joy and compassion she displays in Die Walküre.
|Grimsley and Goerke @Richard Termine|
The farewell between Grimsley and Goerke was not played for overt sentimentality. In past performances I've seen Brünnhildes throw themselves in Wotan's arms. Goerke and Grimsley did not do that. They let their crestfallen body language speak for itself. There were loud audible sobs all around where I was sitting in the final moments of the opera.
|Westbroek and Skelton, photo @ Richard Termine|
Eva Marie Westbroek was an affecting Sieglinde. This role does not tax her weak upper register. Her voice when she doesn't apply pressure to it remains a warm, feminine sound and she's always a committed, sympathetic actress. When she does push for volume unfortunately her pitch can stray and she has a wobble, but overall she is a wonderful artist and this is a good role for her.
Here is Skelton singing "Wälse":
And Eva Marie Westbroek singing "Du bist der lenz":
|Hunding, Sieglinde, and Siegmund, photo @ Richard Termine|
|Lepage's Machine worked for the most part|
|Brünnhide's double hanging off the machine, photo @ Richard Termine|
So in other words the production is still weak. But if you can overlook the problematic production, snatch up tickets to the remaining performances. because all things being considered this was by far the most memorable performance I've experienced at the Met all season.