Headshot of La Cieca

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Bark, not Bayreuth

Is Der Ring des Nibelungen responsible for the transformation of Seattle from a gray, damp, low-rise Boeing company town where half the jokes had punchlines in Norwegian (and were about lutefisk in any case) into today's booming cultural metropolis? I like to think so. The Ring has certainly been central to the process, in three incarnations over almost forty years.

When Glynn Ross founded an opera company here in 1975, he produced Wagner's Ring for a summer blowout, in a cheerfully thin production (painted flats, horned helmets, bearskins and breastplates). The cycle was given twice that summer and succeeding summers, once in German and once in Andrew Porter's English translation. Singers and orchestra were less adept than you'd get back east or in Bayreuth, but it was the Ring all right. It was a ballsy stunt, but it put Seattle Opera on the map.

Bear in mind that, in 1975, though everyone in the Western world could probably hum the Ride of the Valkyries, the Ring had not yet been televised and its performance in North America was pretty much confined to major companies like the Met, Chicago and San Francisco. The cycle was not yet fodder for every cheeky opera house from Manaus to Bangkok.

By 1982, when I saw the Seattle show, the company had a reputation and the Ring was a source of local pride. If not everyone attended, everyone knew about the thing, and Seattle was bursting with it: We can do the Ring! We can do a Ring Wagnerians all over the world come to see! We can do anything!

When Speight Jenkins (who retires this month) took over the company, Microsoft had replaced Boeing as the fount of local wealth, and the art and theater scenes were beginning to bloom. This called for a new, more professional Ring, the one designed by Francois Rochaix, with — get this! a first! — valkyries on flying horses. There were also supertitles. Wagnerians came from all over; even those who had been to Bayreuth did not scorn to attend. Often, they liked what they heard and saw. Reputations began to be made.

A golden cultural age dawned in Seattle. Skyscrapers filled the skyline. It was the era of Mark Morris and Dale Chihuly, of Kurt Cobain and Dan Savage and Frasier. A more musically ingratiating opera house, McCaw Hall, arose on the Seattle Center site. And, with the new century, the Rochaix Ring, with its abrupt curtainfalls and steampunk gadgetry, was replaced by Stephen Wadsworth's Ring, which is having its last ho-jo-to-ho this week.

Wadsworth's Ring has been called the “green” Ring. In fact, it is a Pacific Northwest Ring, the great trees and distant waterfalls sure to thrill anyone who has trekked to Rainier or the Olympics. It is sumptuously detailed, with mountain backdrops and switchback trails, pine forests for one set, deciduous for another. The fishy costumes of the Rhinemaidens (by Martin Pakledinaz) and the scaly cols of Dragon-Fafnir emerging (bewinged and behorned) from Thomas Lynch's rocky cavern have never been more delectable. Wotan and Loge jump about like vaudeville comics to mask the vanishing Alberich. Siegfried tosses berries at the Forest Bird.

Wadsworth's take on the drama is to underline the Asgard Family Romance, shifting the focus from archetype and myth to more intimate problems. I am less than delighted with this approach; it undercuts Wagner's deeper meanings, but I'll go into that in more detail when the cycle is complete. Altering mood and emphasis is fair game for stage director nowadays; most of the packed houses at cycle 3 (including many old but also a surprising number of very young opera-goers) ate it up, thrilled to get good singers (and actors) in appropriate costumes and gorgeous sets. Nor did anyone object — certainly not the singers! — to Wadsworth's usual trick of shoving all the stage action to the front of the set for clearer declamation.

Greer Grimsley has worked his way into Wotan over several seasons; he sings with an authority, a certainty of dramatic point that was not always his, and he cuts an agile and attractive figure. It is not an overwhelmingly sensuous voice and the Walkuere Wotan wears him out — there is a beat in the last pages.

Stephanie Blythe enjoys playing Mrs. Fricka Wotan rather than the usual whining nag; she gets all lovey-dovey with her Wotan, and often sings her more lines at what appears to be a conversational murmur. Being Blythe, her murmurs are audible in every seat in the house, but they are sensual murmurs just the same.

Mark Schowalter's Loge is attractively sung but robbed of his usual ironic stance — Wadsworth has him nearly hysterical at Wotan's decision not to return the Ring to the Rhinemaidens. Can this really be a surprise? Loge is the guy who set the deal up. Lucille Beer, the Erda, made a striking entrance through the mossy forest floor, and sang her eleven o'clock number with luscious sound.

Richard Paul Fink is the commanding, anguished Alberich; Dennis Petersen a Mime who could probably manage Siegfried and who, for once, had the muscular arms and commanding voice of a proper smith. Daniel Sumegi sang an ominous Fafner. Andrea Silvestrelli has little voice left and a lisp to boot, but as both Fasolt and Hunding, his characterization was so magnetic, so magnificently surly, that you couldn't take your eyes off him. Jennifer Zetlan, Cecelia Hall and Renee Tatum were the vocally and aerially adept trio of Rhinemaidens. The valkyries got laughs for swatting each other on the backside with their spears, but Wagner's dialogue for them is hardly less risible.

In Die Walkuere, Stuart Skelton sang a impressive, lyrical Siegmund to Margaret Jane Wray's shining Sieglinde. They did not make the mistake of being drawn to each other too soon, and we got a full taste of Sieglinde and Hunding's unhappy marriage: This is a battered wife. I missed, however, the overwhelming excitement of Sieglinde's final ecstasy: Wray seemed unable to reach the proper pitch of world-saving excitement.

Alwyn Mellor, who sang Brunnhilde, is a handsome woman and an able actress, with the gleaming sound, the risk-taking fire of a proper valkyrie, though again the sense of underlying desperation, of tragedy, did not reach across the footlights. It is probably not her fault or Skelton's but the curiously anti-epic staging that robbed the “Todesverkundigung” of its otherworldliness.This should be the central pivot of a Ring, the instant when a goddess, in mid-transition to a human being, feels mortal pain and chooses to take humanity's side in any case. Skelton felt no awe and therefore we felt none; Mellor seemed to be making no special decision. There was a playful tussle, which cut the emotional impact of the entire drama.

Asher Fisch, who led a couple of fine performances of Parsifal at the Met last spring (and has conducted it in Seattle as well), leads a direct, energetic Wagner that interacts tellingly with the singing and action onstage. Several touches (the rippling harps for the final songs of the Rhinemaidens, the luscious strings for Siegfried's view of the sleeping Brunnhilde) came very immediately into the auditorium. He inspires confidence but not total submersion. His tempi are never too swift to savor, but lack the geological majesty the layers of the epic sometimes call for.

Photo: Elise Bakketun

88 comments

  • opus says:

    Speight Jenkins will retire in Sept 2014, not “next month” as stated above. His successor, Aidan Lang will work in tandem with him from March 2014 through his official retirement in Sept 2014.

    Microsoft has its first initial public offering in 1986. Speight Jenkins became General Director in 1983. At this time, Boeing was still the “fount of local wealth”

    “This called for a new, more professional Ring, the one designed by Francois Rochaix”

    The 1985 Ring was designed by Robert Israel and DIRECTED by Francois Rochaix.

    “A more musically ingratiating opera house, McCaw Hall, arose on the Seattle Center site. And, with the new century, the Rochaix Ring, with its abrupt curtainfalls and steampunk gadgetry, was replaced by Stephen Wadsworth’s Ring, which is having its last ho-jo-to-ho this week. ”

    Marion Oliver McCaw Hall opened in 2003. The Wadsworth/Lynch/Pakledinaz Ring had its premiere in 2001.

    Nowhere has it been said that the Wadsworth Ring made its “last ho-jo-to-ho” this week. Aidan Lang has not yet announced his plans for this production. He could very well remount it.

    As far as your impressions of the singers go -- as opinions are personal, all I will say is that I disagree with most of them.

    In my estimation, Grimley had a triumph as Wotan. Simply fabulous. The voice was enormous in all the right ways. Blythe is a definitive Fricka. Lucille Beer offered an uneven Erda with a bleat in the voice and a thin top. Alwyn Mellor was two sizes too small for Bruennhilde, though her portrayal of the role was captivating. Petersen could certainly NOT manage (the role of) Siegfried, as he struggles with the high voice. The middle voice is sizeable, but there is little top. His Mime was well sung, however, with the two or three high notes in the role. Silvestrelli’s bass was cavernous and spot-on for Hunding, while Fasolt proved a smidge too high. Sumegi was a terrifying Hagen and deafiningly loud. He has grown considerably in the last four years since his last Seattle attempt of this role.

    As for Wadsworth’s having Loge nearly hysterical at the end of Rheingold, Miss Blythe made an interesting comment during a Q&A session. Only Fricka and Loge truly understand the implications of Wotan’s NOT returning the Ring to the Rhinemaidens. A look at the libretto will back this up -- “Ihrem Ende eilen sie zu, die so stark in Bestehen sich wähnen. Fast schäm’ ich mich, mit ihnen zu schaffen…” Therefore, Loge’s reaction made perfect sense to me.

    • meowiaclawas says:

      I agree with opus. I think the most glaringly incorrect comment in the review was that this is the last iteration of the Wadsworth Ring in Seattle. I attended the Q&A sessions with Speight Jenkins after Walkure and Siegfried in cycle 2, and he addressed this question head on: He does not know if the Wadsworth Ring will be back or not, it is up to the next General Director of SO to decide. He did add, however that opera companies in China and Korea expressed interest in buying or renting the production. Interesting…

    • La Cieca says:

      Ms. Blythe is talking out of her ample ass or else has been too busy reading Stephen Wadsworth’s “you go girl” program notes. There is nothing in the text or music to support the idea that Fricka understands anything about the implications of not returning the Ring.

      I mean, for Christ’s sake, the character sings right out loud

      Taugte wohl
      des goldnen Tandes
      gleissend Geschmeid
      auch Frauen zu schönem Schmuck?

      and

      (schmeichelnd zu Wotan)
      Gewänne mein Gatte
      sich wohl das Gold?

      She is on board with Wotan’s grabbing the gold for himself from the word go. And the first thing she remarks after eye-witnessing the bloody murder of one giant by the other over the disputed gold is:

      Wo weilst du, Wotan?
      Winkt dir nicht hold
      die hehre Burg,
      die des Gebieters
      gastlich bergend nun harrt?

      I mean, you change the period of an opera of put a smidge of candid sex into a love scene, and pearls get clutched from coast to coast. But a blatant distortion of character in order to provide a star singer with a more sympathetic vehicle, well, that’s okay, because Blythe is so loud and all.

      • DonCarloFanatic says:

        You can’t imagine how silly the Google Translate versions of these lines are.

        What do you think of the bit in this Seattle Ring where they have Siegfried hugging Mime’s dead body? Also not justified by the text?

        Then there’s Siegfried’s flirtation with the Rhinegirls: in Zambello’s SFO Ring, the surtitles had him suggesting he’d be amenable to some hanky panky. In this Seattle one, there was more like a polite acknowledgment of their attractiveness, with the excuse that he is married. Very different.

        I think I have to order the Spencer translation.

        • Batty Masetto says:

          DCF, the business with the Rhinegirls all depends on how you read Siegfried’s last lines in the scene:

          Und doch, -
          trüg’ ich nicht Gutrun’ Treu, -
          der zieren Frauen eine
          hätt’ ich mir frisch gezähmt!

          Roughly: “If I weren’t faithful to Gutrune, I’d have been happy to tame one of those cuties.”

          If you think the emphasis is on the first part, you get Seattle; if you put it on the second part, you get SFO. There’s certainly enough teasing coming from both sides to play it either way. And he does contemplate letting them have the Ring because of the teasing.

      • opus says:

        I’m not suggesting SW pulled the idea of Fricka’s understanding the implications of not returning the ring directly from the libretto. You’re certainly right -- there is nothing in the libretto to define this idea. However, there’s also nothing to oppose it either.

        Ms. Blythe’s reading of “Wo weilst du, Wotan?” was one of geniune concern, seeing her husband’s fascination with Erda and knowledge of his proclivity towards being unfaithful. Her fears are justified, of course, as we see from By having Wotan in Valhalla, he would be less inclined to wander the world. After all, in the second scene she says

        Um des Gatten Treue besorgt,
        muss traurig ich wohl sinnen,
        wie an mich er zu fesseln,
        zieht’s in die Ferne ihn fort:
        herrliche Wohnung,
        wonniger Hausrat
        sollten dich binden
        zu säumender Rast.

        Her reading made sense to me in the theatre. It may not satisfy everyone, but there’s no need to make a low blow about Ms. Blythe’s weight in disagreeing with her interpretation.

        • derschatzgabber says:

          I agree that the reading makes sense in the theater. I don’t think SW implies that Fricka fully comprehends the full consequences of the Ring. But in his concept, Fricka is beginning to realize that Wotan is leading the gods down a dangerous path. SW’s direction of Fricka at the end of Rheingold makes a plausible transition to Fricka’s scene in Act II of Walkure. I like SW’s direction of the Wotan/Fricka scene in Walkure. Fricka still loves Wotan, despite his extra-marital adventures, but she has to ensure that the gods maintain the order through which they rule. Fricka comes across as a sympathetic and interesting character in the SW Ring.

          Having said that, I think the direction (or the singers adherence to the direction) was a bit better in 2009 than in 2013. The Loge this time around went a bit over the top in his disappointment with Wotan and then Fricka in the end of Rheingold.

          I also preferred the 2009 staging of the end of Gotterdammerung. in 2009, Wotan kissed Fricka on the forehead just before signaling Loge to ignite Valhalla.

          • La Cieca says:

            in 2009, Wotan kissed Fricka on the forehead just before signaling Loge to ignite Valhalla.

            Excuse me while I vomit. Did Wotan take time to have a heart to heart talk with Princess, Bud and Kitten before the final apocalypse?

            • m. croche says:

              The philandering Wagner certainly had a more cynical view of Fricka than his sources did.

              Then the second grief of Frigg comes about
              when Odin advances to fight against the wolf,
              and the bright slayer of Beli against Surt;
              then the beloved of Frigg must fall.

              Wagner’s text isn’t terribly explicit as to what the “hehrstes Wunder” at the Gotterdammerung close might be. For any director who wants to go beyond a simple scenic realization of the stage directions provided in the Gott. score, there needs to be something miraculous/redemptive to justify the recollection of Sieglinde’s melody at the end and the music’s “optimistic” close. Most directors’ solutions work decently enough while the music is running, but sound ludicrous when related to third parties after the fact.

              Given that, I’ve seen (and heard of) worse solutions than the proposition that Wotan, at the last-minute and perhaps inspired by Brunnhilde’s devotion, re(dis)covers his former love -- going into eternal sleep next to the woman he woke up with in Das Rheingold.

  • balconydenizen says:

    Since this review speaks to the first two operas, I’ll limit my comments to those.

    I attended the second cycle. Overall I found this production thoroughly enjoyable and a valid interpretation. It was beautiful to look at and the staging makes sense. I don’t think that Wadsworth is the first to view the Ring as a story about a dysfunctional family who just happen to be Gods.

    Greer Grimsley was magnificent as Wotan. If his voice doesn’t have the resonance of Morris or Tomlinson, everything else was there in abundance. Blythe is a case of a singer owning a role. Vinke delivered a powerful Siegfried. As to Mellor, I have mixed feelings. I found her voice a bit small (NOT two sizes) but she delivered an affecting portrayal.

    By the way, don’t call this a “traditional” Ring in front of Speight Jenkins. He took real exception at a Q&A when a questioner used this term. Speight regards a traditional ring as one with a few trees planted on the stage among which the singers stand and deliver. Per Speight, this is a Modern Ring.

    • Salome Where She Danced says:

      Second cycle, too. Blythe was best as the Gott Waltraute. She totally nailed it.

    • Regina delle fate says:

      Well, the pix certainly make it look like a “traditional” Ring. La Cieca’s illustration looks like a black and white photo of a Ring circa 1920 that has been coloured in. For a mo I wondered if that was Nanny Larsen-Todson with the spear! :)

      • Feldmarschallin says:

        When I saw that picture Regina I lost all interest in reading about that Ring. Not my cup of tea I am afraid. Looks like something Cosima Wagner would have come up with.

        • manou says:

          Feld -- surely there must be some value in at least reading about this Ring, which has been so well received in different quarters, even if you would have no interest in watching it. This is dangerously akin to the stance of those who would condemn the Castorf Ring just on the basis of some of the pictures.

          Open-mindedness requires that we consider different opinions, especially if they run counter to our own inclinations.

          • Feldmarschallin says:

            Manou I saw two Rings in Seattle over the years and they were both interchangeable. I look to see what was said about the Brünnhilde though after someone saying she was absolutely ghastly. But apparently Foster is even worse. But Manou I am inundated with things to read here and have papers and magazines where I also have to catch up that there comes a point and you need to pick and choose what is important to you.

            • manou says:

              I quite understand that one must be selective -- I myself have several books to read and never seem to catch up. I just felt you were being unduly dismissive of the production, not realizing that you were familiar with it.

              By the way -- I have seen Foster’s Brünnhilde (Walküre) in Amsterdam, and she was OK -- but completely outclassed by Catherine Naglestad as Sieglinde.

            • Feldmarschallin says:

              Thanks Manou re Foster. The more I hear about her the less I want to see the Ring next year and might just wait for the third year. I don’t want to invest all that time and money and have a bad Brünnhilde. Petrenko will do three cycles here in April 15 and might just have to wait since Bachler seems to get decent to very good Brünnhildes. I would like to see the production but that can wait. Surely at some point Foster will be replaced.

            • grimoaldo says:

              I’m glad that there are various approaches to productions of the Ring, or any opera and I think something that has been lost recently is a sense of identity among various opera houses when you can see the same production of Tosca at the Met or La Scala or the same Don Carlo at the Met or Covent Garden. I understand why they share productions but it does make a sort of bland international approach all over the place. Seattle has built a strong identity with its Ring productions, something different than you will see in most other places, a lot of people love it, others do not and the ones who don’t like it will find other approaches that suit their taste more.

            • oedipe says:

              Personally, more than seeing the same co-productions all over the place, I am much more bothered by the trend among top opera houses to cast the exact same stars everywhere. That IMO leads to a “bland international sound”, and audiences are becoming convinced that’s the standard.

            • Cocky Kurwenal says:

              The stars are the stars and everywhere is going to want them -- this is nothing new. However, there are important local differences -- Harteros is a pretty obvious case, who doesn’t now appear in New York, who out of nearly 30 scheduled performances ever at the ROH has done just a handful and who probably won’t now be back -- we’ll have to go to Munich, Vienna, Berlin etc to see her.

              Herlitzius is another -- one of the most exciting and truly individual singers in the world today, but who seems to sing only in a few houses in continental Europe.

              Racette has monopolised the forthcoming San Francisco season apparently, but has only done 1 solitary production with a short run in London the entire time I’ve been conscious of the opera schedules.

            • MontyNostry says:

              … and don’t forget her appearance in the LPO’s concert performance of Das Wunder der Heliane in 2007, in which the vocal highlights were supplied by Willard White (sounding far better than I would have expected) and the splendidly named Ursula Hesse von den Steinen.

            • manou says:

              I was there and I am still yawning….Who thought up the wheeze of placing the soloists behind the orchestra?

  • manou says:

    Here is an Italian critic who thinks Wagner would have been proud of The Seattle Ring:

    http://www.gbopera.it/2013/08/seattle-un-ring-che-avrebbe-reso-wagner-orgoglioso/

    There are also many photographs of the production.

    • balconydenizen says:

      What a marvelous review. The writer captures everything I enjoyed about this Ring. Rarely am I in total agreement with any reviewer, but with this writer, I am.

  • Flora del Rio Grande says:

    I’d like to say to John Y., I always enjoy your writing; I’ve not seen the SeaRing this year, but every word-of-mouth comment I got (a lot) was extremely positive.
    On Seattle: “low rise?” Last time I was there I went to the observation floor at the top of a 78-story bank tower downtown and the views were breathtaking — you could see the entire Seattle area and how isolated it is by mountains and water. Try that view sometime. Seattle is no longer a Boeing town. Headquarters moved to Chicago, most military operations are consolidated into the old McDonnell-Douglas mega-factories in St. Louis. Passenger jet production remains at Seattle and it is substantial. Yes, Seattle had a provincial and isolated history, but no longer. I like to visit there and will again for Wagner and seafood — two of my favorite things :) And Nordstrom’s ‘mother’ store downtown remains a full service department store — the rare real thing, and not just a collection of boutiques. Seattle is an elegant and sophisticated metropolitan area. Meany (sp?) Hall at Univ. of Washington is one of the great chamber music auditoria, acoustically speaking, I have ever heard. It’s a treasure any city would envy. And I absolutely agree about the excellence of the Seattle Opera house. Built with 5000 seats in the 1920s as an all-use public auditorium, it was made over in 1960s style and somewhat reduced in size for the world’s fair — not a bad place back in the ’60s, but the further reduction in size and complete rebuilding as it is now constitutes one of the most comfortable and rewarding opera venues I know. Add to that ease of access by monorail from city center to very near the entrance of the opera house and you have a situation that is hard to beat. And then there is the wonderful old/renewed Olympic Hotel . . . great place!
    Yes, I know: Too bad there is way too much rain.

  • Avantialouie says:

    Seattle may well have had a provincial and isolated history, but even in the late 1950′s when I attended college there, it had almost as much polish and sophistication as San Francisco. But Seattle was just enough smaller, so that one could truly get to know it well and enjoy it deeply. I have seen every Seattle “Ring” several times, although not every cast or every year. And I will proudly and happily take any and all of the Wagner that the Seattle opera has offered over the years as “something Cosima would have put on” in preference to absolutely ANYTHING Katerina and Eva have come up with. NO ONE can now look to Bayreuth for leadership in Wagner production. For many years, Seattle has merely been able to rival Bayreuth. Recently, it has totally eclipsed it: Bayreuth has now successfully erased itself from the world’s memory bank and simply disappeared. No one cares any more.

    • Chrysothemis says:

      Let me put those last sentences in another, more accurate way:

      Bayreuth’s productions are global cultural events that often spark enlightening debates about the works themselves and their interpretations. The singing in on balance about as good as you could expect anywhere, while the choir and orchestra are peerless.

      Seattle, meanwhile, puts on productions that everyone seem to kind of like, with b-list singers and a provincial orchestra.

      Don’t get me wrong. I saw the Seattle ring last time around, and I loved it. Let’s just keep things in some kind of perspective, shall we?

      • reedroom says:

        Provincial orchestra? I’ll give you some perspective: As a member of said orchestra, The Seattle Symphony, I’ll gladly compare my and my colleagues’ work in the Seattle Opera pit to any in the world. And, if you call Stephanie Blythe, Greer Grimsley, Stuart Skelton, and (in past productions) Eva Podles “b-list singers”, I don’t know what you’re smokin’.

        And sorry, the Bayreuth orchestra, on every “live” recording I’ve ever heard, has been wildly uneven; “intonation” must have a different meaning in German. Just sayin…

        • meowiaclawas says:

          I back up reedroom’s comments. BRAVO to Seattle Symphony and the other musicians who played in this summer’s Seattle Ring. I’ve seen the Ring in Seattle, NYC and Berlin and Seattle’s was overall the best due to the production, the singers AND the orchestra.

        • Chrysothemis says:

          No insult intended whatsoever, and if you played in 2009 I’d be happy to thank you for being part of a great experience.

          I already said I loved the Seattle ring. “Provincial” just has a quite different meaning when you’re talking about houses that actually play the Ring. I thought the Seattle orchestra was about on par with Los Angeles and San Francisco -- I heard all three Rings in 2009, 2010 and 2011 respectively. It was just not as good as what you’d be likely to hear in, say, Berlin or Vienna on a good day.

          The Bayreuth orchestra has had its ups and downs, but from from about 1988 I’ve rarely heard them be anything but mindblowingly good. The Barenboim and Thielemann Ring recordings come to mind.

          As for the singers: Blythe -- yeah, obviously. I almost went back this year just to hear her Waltraute. Why does she only sing that part in Seattle? Grimsley and Skelton -- I liked them both just fine in 2009. Richard Paul Fink was the real star for me -- the best Alberich singing today as far as I’m concerned.

          The rest of the cast I thought were good to OK, and in a well conceived Ring that’s all you really need.

          It just wasn’t something that set the whole Wagnerian universe on fire, or that is likely to be remembered as in any way important -- as opposed to a large number of Bayreuth productions. And that’s really the only point I intended to make.

      • Vergin Vezzosa says:

        Hear, hear reedroom! Plus it seems from most reports from Bayreuth this year that a lot of the singing there could be described as “provincial”.

      • Feldmarschallin says:

        No the singing is not as good there as you can expect anywhere. München and La Scala had much better Lohengrin and Ring casts than Bayreuth. Stemme, Harteros, Kaufmann, Herlitzius, Pape all don’t sing there anymore or haven’t sung there. Stemme is in my opinion the best Brünnhilde we have today followed by Herlitzius and Nagelstad is excellent as Siegfrieds Brünnhilde. And who does Bayreuth come up with? Foster! Granted she was a substitute for Denoke but still. Why not Jennifer Wilson at least.

  • DonCarloFanatic says:

    Since I haven’t made it to Bayreuth yet, I’ll have to wait and see. But I do not recall hearing the Seattle orchestra hit the glaringly wrong notes that I heard at the SFO Ring. A Ring I enjoyed regardless.

    As to the singers, as I said previously, Blythe did not come to Seattle and do the very same Fricka she did at the Met. Far from it. No bland international sound from her. Neither did Sumegi reprise what he did at SFO. And we can’t have it both ways. Either we’re okay that some singers travel the world, or we’re okay that some singers stay at just one house or in just one relatively small geographical area.

    This being Parterre, though, we manage to complain about everything. It’s a wonder that any of us end up having any fun at all at any of these woefully imperfect performances with their dreadful singers. But we do.

  • bellarenata says:

    Oui, j’étais la pour Die Walküre et Siegfried à Paris. Mais, vous citez les critiques pour Die Walküre, c’est que j’avais cité c’était pour Siegfried. It is generally agreed that Die Walküre lies much more treacherously for a high soprano and that Ms Mellor is much better suited to Siegfried than the low lying Todesverkündigung. The Bastille is a difficult theatre but she seemed to me to have found its measure much more satisfactorily for Siegfried and I would guess was also more rested. The rehearsal period must have been tough as I imagine it was designed for two singers but that she had to take over all of it when Janice Baird withdrew.

    “Quant à l’excellente Brünnhilde d’Alwyn Mellor, elle chante parfaitement, avec une stabilité vocale bien venue, un timbre vaillant et clair, et ce qu’il faut d’enthousiasme au III.”
    http://www.altamusica.com

    “Alwyn Mellor est, heureusement, meilleure que dans La Walkyrie : on entend davantage le médium, les registres se soudent davantage, l’aigu, s’il reste crié, tient bon.”
    http://www.concertonet.com

    “The higher tessitura of the Siegfried Brünnhilde suited Mellor’s soprano better than that of Die Walküre, and she nailed her top Cs with thrilling precision, which brought the evening to a triumphant conclusion.”
    http://www.operanews.com

    Paris wasn’t a triumph for her but it certainly wasn’t as bad as some of the initial reviews suggested and if one reads the Seattle reviews they have really been rather good considering how sniffy we all are about anybody even daring to attempt these huge roles.

    • oedipe says:

      Well, initially you quoted a glowing phrase of one review of one part of the Paris Ring, and you asked rhetorically how anyone can call Ms.Mellor’s singing overparted.

      So I answered you with quotes from several considerably less glowing reviews of the singing that represented the bulk of Ms.Mellor’s Paris Ring contribution.