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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
sensational walkureFeb. 23 2010
Ivor E. Zetler
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Let me begin this review by declaring that I found this to be a sensational performance of Wagner's Die Walkure. This opinion comes from a long time Wagner enthusiast who is generally very hard to please. Firstly, the musical aspect of this performance is very satisfying. The vocal casting is consistent in quality; Peter Seiffert's glowing tenor voice makes for an excellent Siegmund and Petra Maria Schnitzer is a secure Sieglinde. Jahu Uusitalo's authritative Wotan is firmly and solidly sung and Jennifer Wilson's Brunnhilde is commanding. Her "hoiotohos" at the beginning of Act 2, sung while ascending and descending in a levered contraption, are rock solid and thrilling. My greatest surprize is with Mehta's superb Wagner conducting. He unerringly maintains the Wagner musical line and brings out the varying moods of the score with consumate skill. Bravo.
The basic setting of the action is best described as prehistoric. There is a good deal of filmic projection which provides a dynamic and everchanging backdrop. Some might find this distracting but I found it very appealing and interesting. The singers are sometimes elevated by manually operated "lifting machines". This is quite prominent in the Ride of the Walkure scene that starts Act 3. The magic fire scene is also effectively realised.
The costumes are interesting and might annoy some conservative viewers. The Walkure (including Brunnhilde)are made to wear unflattering brown attire with prominent breastplates. Sieglinde has tatoos and dreadlocks.
The filming involves frequent changes of visual aspects. This is smoothly achieved and did not seem obtrusive to me. The video and sound quality are both excellent. It is interesting to note that a friend (a true Wagner tragic) was present at the live Valencia performances. She found that watching the DVD proved to be the more satisfying experience.
I have seen many DVD performances of this great work but I find this version to be the most satisfying by far.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
An Exciting New WalkureMarch 13 2010
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Die Walkure the most accessible of the Ring cycle is vocally somewhat of a mixed bag in this newest installment. Matti Salimen is amazing here as Hunding, a singer in this sixth decade, but sounding years younger; He is extraordinary. His body makeup speaks of a more primitive age--almost prehistoric. Sieglinde, Petra Maria Schnitzer is adequate vocally, some of the time. She does not trump some of the great Sieglindes from the past (think Borkh, Resnick, Lehmann) and beginning with her great monolgue, Die manne suppe there is a lack of initensity and eventually radiance. Even Altmeyer in the Boulez set brings a more stunning radiance and sense of drama. I have mixed feelings about Sieffert's Siegmund. Initially his voice is not under complete control evincing a wobble from time to time. Even so it can occur when you least expect it. His barrel chested weight has been masked superficially with the costume. This is most fortunate.
Act II introduces us to Jennifer Wilson, Brunhilde. If I recall correctly, she deputized for Jane Eaglen in a Chicago Ring series several years ago. The comments on the web were enthusiastic and one would have though that her name would pop up long before this Ring cycle appeared. Bayreuth has probably not called because the singer is large, though hardly in the Eaglen sense of the word. But the sound is gleaming and her high C's spot on and secure. Where she is weakest is the Annunciation Scene which lies in the middle of the voice; weakness is used here as a relative term. I only wish that she had been costumed more attractively. She is fitted out with a "breast plate" that covers her from waist to neck--we are back in pre-war productions with only the helmet with wings missing. Wieland dispensed this this, choosing garments that recalled Greek mythology. They certainly flattered the singer. It is unlikely, though, that Bayreuth will ever call upon Wilson's talent: it is their loss.
Uusitalo's Act II monologue is superbly sung, again relishing the text in a manner almost redolent of a Lieder singer. Again I find he voice somewhat light, but he does compensate for it with great artistry. Larsson has no equal on DVD as Fricka. Not only is she quite beautiful, she sings with great artistry and matchees her Wotan's textual inflections.
As in the Rheingold, the production is exciting with images that change with great fluidity and meaning. This may disturb those who want a more conventional Ring but all of what is happening in the Ring is happening in the orchestra and the images seen on stage reflect this. Again as in Rheingold the singers are moved by the use of cranes, though not I hasten to add, Sieglinde and Siegmund, but only the Gods. Stage technicians play a very large role in this conception and again their presence will irritate those who feel their role should not be seen during the action. My own feelings are mixed but I feel compelled to rewatch this DVD for its many virtures and perhaps change those feelings which ar present my be equivocal.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Valencia Walkure a Winner!May 17 2010
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This is a space age version of Walkure that preserves the musical and dramatic genius of Wagner's creation. The Valencia Opera has used computer designed projections to give backgrounds for the various scenes. they take some getting used to for those of us accustomed to a more traditional setting such as the Met DVD.The projections are very effective as a rich background. I will contrast this performance with that of Barenbom from bayreuth, the other best performance contender.Zubin Mehta conducts the excellent Valencia orchestra with skill and is generally very expressive. Mehta gives a warm romantic reading that really blooms in the climax of Act 3. Barenbom brings out more of the darkness and passion of the opera and I would not want to be without his thrilling performance. In Act 1 Seiffert and Schnitzer are very effective as Siegmund and sielinde, repectively. Salminen is a dark ,sinister and thoroughly hissable villian in the role of Hunding.Barenbom's team of Elming and Secunde are a little more strong voiced and passionate. and if I were going to introduce someone to walkure, via Act 1, i would play the Barenbom version. Act 2 is where the space age thing really gets going in this production. Uusistalo is a wonderful Wotan. Anna Larsson is hands down the best Fricka I have seen on DVD-beautiful, superb singing, and not just a shrewish wife. She and Wotan are on cantilevered chairs allowing them to be raised and lowered and at times seem to be flying through the clouds. This is a wonderful effect. When Fricka tells Wotan he might as well trample her, he is floating above her. At the end, when she has forced Wotan to her will, Fricka rises as Wotan remains grounded. The following scene in which Wotan explains to Brynnhilde where things stand in the ring affair, Wotan moves around both on the ground and floating above.In the Bayreuth production, Wotan runs around and at times even rolls on the ground for dramatic intensity. Tomlinson is an excellent Wotan but the Valencia production just makes a more convincing scene here.The reason I cannot give the Mehta version five stars is the following scene in which Brynnhilde must tell Siegmund he will die and she will take him to Valhalla to dwell forever with the heroes.This is one of the great moments in all of opera.Jennifer Wilson is, in all, a fine Brynnhilde but this scene falls flat. I think it is Mehta's fault. Listen to the mystery and drama Barenbom and his Brynnhilde, Anne Evans bring to this scene Act 3 is a dramtic triumph for the Valencia folks. Wilson is in resplendent voice, her sisters are wonderful and Mehta has the full measure of the challenging orchestral score.The final scene in which Wotan puts Brynnhilde to sleep on a rock surounded by fire must communicate with the audience on a deeply emotional level. I found tears in my eyes when this Act 3 finished. For this reason, I will give this a recomendation as the best DVD of Walkure for the total performance.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
What a blend!Aug. 8 2010
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Let me begin by saying I absolutely despise updates. I remember well the Ring with Wotan dressed like Lincoln and Brunhilde dressed like she was ready to board a wagon heading west. Even in the Verdi or Mozart operas having the female cast running around in their slips and the men dressed ready to go to a jazz concert in Harlem. When I attend the opera I wish to see a production close to what the composer envisioned. If I opted to voice alone I would remain at home with my CDs. One reason I love Wagner is that he did every detail of his operas and not just the music. I firmly believe that if he had access to the technology of today he would have utilized it as in this production. I have never experienced an opera where the stage comes alive. The costumes were traditional with just a small touch of modern. I certainly may agree with the classic Wagner singing, but I attend the opera house for much more than voice alone and this production has left me in awe. Wagner would not be rolling in his grave but doing cartwheels across the stage.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Great Voices, Great Set Design, Horrible Video CutMay 24 2011
Geza G. Schenk
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Zubin Mehta and his cast are really great. Although the Rheingold offers more amazing scenic ideas, also the Walküre surprises by wonderful ideas, interpretations and visual effects (quoting the one or the other from the Rheingold). But the way, the entire video is cut, destroys almost all impact and ideas. With a Lady Gaga-Style cuts (no sequence longer than 3 seconds) the viewer has almost no chance to really read Fura Dels Baus concept. Instead we see sweat on foreheads, overweight dramatic sopranos and not really compelling close-ups. This is a video clip for pop music and not for opera. The video editor does not seem to understand what a set designer and director really does: Creating a visual world for the audience in the theater, seen from the distance. This non stop visual hopping around and indulging in useless close-ups is really a pain and does not give the viewer at home a single opportunity to see a longer visual sequence without cut (which is really required to enjoy in this production.) I pushed the pause button for at least 50 times to take the time to look at the set design and understand ... Against that background, I can recommend the DVDs only as CDs. Switch off the TV, look at some online pics of the production and enjoy the music and singers. The video editor does not give you any chance to enjoy the overall idea - which is so essential for Wagner's operas (the Gesamtkunstwerk concept). It's really a pity...