[Met Performance] CID:291500

Metropolitan Opera House, Tue, February 16, 1988

Siegfried (237)
Richard Wagner | Richard Wagner
Wolfgang Neumann

Hildegard Behrens

Donald McIntyre

Anne Gjevang

Horst Hiestermann

Franz Mazura

John Macurdy

Forest Bird
Gwendolyn Bradley

James Levine

Review 1:

Review of Martin Mayer in Opera

This gets us three-quarters of the way to next season's "Ring," and I thought this production the best of the cycle so far. The progression from the late-Spring, surroundings of Mime's home-cum-workshop to the wintry bleakness of the mountain top I found visually convincing, and I was nuts about Gunther Schneider-Siemssen's giant spider/Cyclops monster. You could see how brave Siegfried really was when he disappeared among that mess of slimy, hairy arms. A few of the images were perhaps a little simple-minded (Wanderer does not really have to root his spear in his groin as Siegfried breaks it) but by and large the literal execution of Wagner's directions worked well.

What made the evening for everyone was the orchestra, the lovingly detailed exposition of the work by Levine, and the glory of Hildegard Behrens's Brünnhilde, beautifully and powerfully sung with complete characterization in voice and in larger and smaller gestures. Anyone who has ever loved a feminist must be heartbroken by her look back at her discarded armour. Siegfried was inevitably unworthy of her, and a provincial Heldentenor like Wolfgang Neumann should not be held to such standards. But he gave us all he had, very honourably, and in the end it was, just barely, enough. Donald McIntyre gave us a Wanderer with two eyes, a Wotan who knew what had to happen and was playing out the string. He too used his experience and his limited resources well. Anne Gjevang was an effective Erda, John Macurdy a less than fully focused Fafner. Horst Heistermann and Franz Mazura were world-class Nibelungen here as they had been in Rheingold. Gwendolyn Bradley was the Wood bird, an absolutely incomprehensible piece of casting in a house where Dawn Upshaw (who did second cast) and Hei-Kyung Hong offer lyric voices of truly transcendent beauty.

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