Kulturkompasset | critics of culture events

DIE WALKÜRE in Florence


Richard Wagner. DIE WALKÜRE, Conducted by Zubin Mehta.

DieWalküre: Torstein Kerl as Siegmund and Elena Pankratova as Sieglinde. photo Gianluca Moggi

FLORENZE:    Florence, Italy, Teatro Comunale. 2013 january 22nd

Review by Fabio Bardelli, photo: Gianluca Moggi, new press photo, firenze

Richard Wagner was born in Lipsia 200 years ago, on May 22nd 1813. After many logistic problems and programme variations, this anniversary is celebrated in Florence with Die Walküre, a revival of the 2007 staging created by the Catalan group La Fura dels Baus as a part of the whole Tetralogy, that we saw in Florence in the last few years.

As we said in a previous article, this isn’t a good time for Florence’s theatre, as it was evident even by the many empty seats at this performance, almost a sign of the estrangement of its audience. So, we hope that this performance of Die Walküre is a good wish for the immediate 2013 season.

Die Walküre,  photo Gianluca Moggi

It’s a pleasure to see again this famous, spectacular and visionary staging after six years; when it was performed the first time, it was sensational for its characteristics which can be found again in the whole Fura dels Baus’ Ring cycle.

What hits the audience is how the Catalan group is able to narrate the story with the most modern technical equipments, as seen in the whole Ring, without distorting the story, but always following libretto and music in this mythologic “musical history”, and thus rather unlikely for us.
Probably Wagner himself would have recognized his own concept of Wort-Ton-Drama in this imaginative but rather didactic staging, where the composer’s intentions are almost totally followed.
If something is lacking in this staging is to go deep into the story, a personal view on it and the characters is in fact missing.
There is no special interpretation of the opera’s different meanings, La Fura dels Baus doesn’t attempt to discover something new on the plot, like the crisis of middle classes, or to read it under historic-political interpretations, or no psychoanalytic sessions for Siegmund or Brünnhilde.
The story is staged with shocking fantastic lights, projections, extraordinary surprising scenic mechanisms, with a top baroquism that disregards its many underground meanings and inner implications. This way of seeing the story, so external, may put on the background the psycological introspections of the various characters. These are the limits of this staging: it discovers nothing new and doesn’t show any new way for future interpreters of this Wagner’s extrahordinary masterpiece.

Die Walküre photo Gianluca Moggi

We remember some of the most impressive scenes of this production: Sieglinde kept by a rope by Hunding and walking on all fours, until she can walk on her legs with Siegmund, the oscillating enormous pendulum with the bodies of dead heroes at the beginning of the 3rd act, and the finale with the fire-circle sorrounding sleeping Brünnhilde, even if a bit different from the 2007 original version staged by director Carlus Padrissa.

Zubin Mehta confirms to be a conductor incostant in his performances. He was supported by the skilled Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, specially and in a good form, and the general level was good, but in some descriptive pages Mehta failed to hold the attention of the audience, even if he is always refined and analytical. He is very good in some topical moments, like for example the famous Ride of the Valkyries at the beginning of the 3rd act, and strangely is less vigorous and interesting in some moments that would need more energy, such as in the last part of the 1st act. Anyway, 3rd act Finale was really beautiful, also thanks to Wotan and Brünnhilde, well acting and really moving.

Die Walküre,  Elena Pankratova as Sieglinde. photo: Gianluca Moggi

Sieglinde was Elena Pankratova, who depicts very well her character on the musical side thanks to her good voice and technique, even if rather foreseeable and not very moving.
Torsten Kerl sings his Siegfried rather well, his voice is not specially strong but well pitched, with a beautiful bronze tone in the middle register and good as interpreter. He has some problems only when he must sing in other registers, far from the center where he gives his best.
Stephen Milling’s Hunding was rough and thundering, just as his character. His performance was very correct and effective, although he didn’t seem to have gone in the depth of the psycology of his role.

Die Walküre. photo: Gianluca Moggi.

Juha Uusitalo was Wotan; vocally he’s not in his best shape, and actually his precarious vocality forces him to give almost an intimate rendition of his character, what could also be a way of interpretation. As said, he was exciting in the finale of 3rd act, and he founds deep moving accents in his great scene in 2nd act. Certainly he lacks in that vocal and interpretative strength that would be necessary, but in the whole he depicts very well his character, with excellent phrasing and great intentions.
Brünnhilde was Jennifer Wilson, an intelligent singer even if a bit rough in her vocality. She had her bad moments but going on with the opera she went much better. However the character was totally welll delineated and the singer was very suitable.
Daniela Denschlang was Fricka, almost a low-key performance, a bit boring too, and not very convincing both vocally and scenically.
In the whole a good performance from all the Valkyries (Bernadette Flaitz, Jacqueline Wagner, Pilar Vázquez, Maria Radner, Eugenia Bethencourt, Julia Rutigliano, Patrizia Scivoletto e Stephanie Iranyi).
The evening was a great success, both for the singers, the conductor and the “Furers”, who were wonderful in using the scenical mechanisms and controlling the very silent cranes where the singers had to sing in many moments. The staging has been rather well reprised by Alejandro Stadler and the lights by Gianni Paolo Mirenda, with only some differences from the original production by Carlus Padrissa. The costumes were of average level, not specially rich in fantasy, by Chu Uroz.

From Die Walküre, photo Gianlucca Moggi

As said, the theatre wasn’t sold out, what is a pity and people should regret to have lost the performance. Besides, it was the only Wagner’s opera in Florence in 2013, second centenary of Wagner‘s birth. We hope in a better future for our glorious Florence theatre.

 

 

 

Review by Fabio Bardelli

Translation from italian Bruno Tredicine

Conductor, Zubin Mehta

Regia, La Fura dels Baus (Carlus Padrissa)

ripresa da Alejandro Stadler

Immagini video, Franc Aleu

Scene, Roland Olbeter

Luci, Peter van Praet

riprese da Gianni Paolo Mirenda

Costumi, Chu Uroz

Impianto drammaturgico, Cesare Mazzonis

 

Siegmund, Torsten Kerl

Hunding, Stephen Milling

Wotan, Juha Uusitalo

Sieglinde, Elena Pankratova

Brünnhilde, Jennifer Wilson

Fricka, Daniela Denschlag

Gerhilde, Bernadette Flaitz

Ortlinde, Jacqueline Wagner

Waltraute, Pilar Vázquez

Schwertleite, Maria Radner

Helmwige, Eugenia Bethencourt

Siegrune, Julia Rutigliano

Grimgerde, Patrizia Scivoletto

Rossweisse, Stephanie Iranyi

Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

Allestimento del Teatro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino

in coproduzione con Palau de les Arts “Reina Sofía” di Valencia

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