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Wagner: Die Walkure (Haenchen) (UK) (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000082370
Added by: Alan Titherington
Added on: 20/5/2006 01:02
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    Wagner: Die Walkure (Haenchen)

    8 / 10


    The second opera in Wagner`s Ring Cycle, conducted by Hartmut Haenchen, in the production by Pierre Audi from Amsterdam.

    Incest, death, the ruler of the Gods and his wife having almighty (pun intended) rows, disobedient daughters - all nine of them!....not a bad evening`s entertainment, and overall an excellent follow-up to the Amsterdam Das Rheingold (also reviewed on the site).


    Very fine quality indeed, in the usual region-free NTSC 16/9 anamorphic transfer.


    The DTS is quite striking here, and generally the balance is extremely good, considering the orchestra is yet again surrounded by the stage, in full view of everyone.

    There are moments when the singers move to the back, and sometimes above the players in the `pit`, where the voices suddenly become distant but luckily this doesn`t happen too often, and actually makes quite an effect in the meeting between Brünnhilde and Siegmund.


    A reasonably interesting, if rather academic 20 minute discussion on various aspects of the work, and some titbits on `Wagnerian endings`. Certainly not as involving as the documentary which accompanied Das Rheingold.

    We also have an illustrated synopsis and subtitles in seven languages (you never know, you may wish to scream Hojotoho at the television in Japanese).


    This is a highly involving performance, and a worthy addition to what is turning out to be a fascinating cycle.

    Audi`s production certainly doesn`t have a shyness to it, taking in a huge platform that twists around the auditorium and surrounds the orchestra which sits just below stage-level, and is almost never out of shot.

    We also enjoy some rather nice effects, mostly involving fire, but for some reason not at the end where I would think it was most apt).

    The less said about the `comedy` Valkyrie wings the better. It`s probably hard enough singing the beginning of Act 3, without having to flap your arms and run around as if you were large birds, folding your wings in front of you when `perched`.

    Musically, I wasn`t sure I could fault it. Haenchen takes it all quite briskly yet again, but doesn;t skimp on the heavy climaxes where necessary.

    The 8 Valkyries performed brilliantly, and give one of the best ensemble performances I`ve heard in this music.

    The rest of the cast are equally as impressive, with probably the best singing coming from Fricka (Reinhild Runkel), even though she has to hobble around looking very haggard indeed on two grotesque walking sticks.

    Despite some croaks, Brünnhilde (Jeannine Almeyer) lasts the course admirably, and the scenes between herself and Wotan (John Bröcheler - far more confident than in Rheingold) are especially moving.

    Siegmund (John Keyes) and Sieglinde (Nadine Secunde), together with Hunding (a very reliable Kurt Rydl) create some great music in Act 1, although the ending wasn`t quite as gripping as some, possibly due to what seemed like a drop in volume, but I`ll listen a few more times just in case my ears need popping.

    So, that makes two very good instalments, and already a far superior set to that from Barcelona, also from Opus-Arte.

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