Notes and Editorial Reviews
Asher Fisch, cond; Timothy Mussard (
); Lisa Gasteen (
); Duccio dal Monte (
); Jonathan Summers (
); Joanna Cole (
); John Wegner (
); Elizabeth Campbell (
); Liane Keegan (
); Gaye MacFarlane (
); Kate Ladner (
); Natalie Jones (
); Donna-Maree Dunlop (
); Zan McKendree-Wright (
); South Australia St Op Ch; Adelaide SO
MELBA 301099 (3 Hybrid multichannel SACDs: 267:01
Text and Translation) Live: Adelaide 11–12/2004
The State Opera of South Australia’s
cycle, conducted by Asher Fisch, finishes strong with this
was released in mid 2006, Melba’s set was the first entire Wagner opera to appear on SACD. Now, Melba has company, a complete
from Amsterdam courtesy of Et’Cetera (see review elsewhere) but that hardly diminishes the worth of the Australians’ achievement.
, covered in
30:6, was compromised by a merely passable singer in the title role—a substitution, I understand.
has no such issues: the cast is very strong and everyone, down to the last Norn, was evidently having a good night. American tenor Timothy Mussard does an outstanding job as the hero. His voice, while not the most ringing and gleaming you’ve ever heard, is undeniably heroic in scale and, more critically, Mussard’s portrayal is exquisitely alert to exactly where the character is on his path from enthusiastic cluelessness to tragic enlightenment. His final dying words eschew scenery chewing and communicate that Siegfried finally understands that he’s been made fully human by Brünnhilde’s love. Lisa Gasteen is warmly womanly in the Prologue, and so palpably exultant in describing her bliss to Waltraute that her horror and disgust when she catches up with Siegfried is set up maximally. She’s magnificent in her last scene, building a sense of resolve and purpose—and delivering just plain beautiful singing.
Duccio dal Monte, the Hagen, was a student of Rolando Panerai. He has a large and darkly powerful instrument and his ruminations alone on stage at the close of act I, scene 2 are pretty scary. As his half-brother, Gunther, Jonathan Summers is suitably puffed-up and proud. Additionally, Joanna Cole’s Gutrune is among the most successful I’ve ever heard. She’s perky enough when she first appears, superficial and narcissistic, but not stupid. Later, she’s extraordinarily sympathetic as she futilely awaits Siegfried’s return in act III—sad and small, with a growing comprehension that she’s been brutally manipulated. There’s no gratuitous screaming or wailing when she learns of Siegfried’s demise. John Wegner makers the father-son relationship of Alberich and Hagen quite believable at the beginning of act II and Elizabeth Campbell, who sang so well as Fricka in
is an excellent Waltraute, trying multiple approaches to get her sister to surrender the cursed ring.
Again, Asher Fisch leads with tremendous dramatic instinct and makes the most of every orchestra-only passage, and not just the famous set pieces. As just one example, listen to the mood of smoldering hate that Fisch conjures up for the Prelude to act II. The orchestral execution is absolutely world-class: hearing the horns at the beginning of the final act, you’d think the Vienna Philharmonic or Royal Concertgebouw had been brought to Adelaide for these performances.
Particularly in surround, the rich warm sound holds you in a luxuriant embrace, with true instrumental colors. (Someone who had never heard a clarinet and bass clarinet, for example, would know instantly that the latter is much larger than the former.) Voices are naturally scaled as if heard from an audience perspective, and balances between pit and stage are ideal. The occasional rear-channel effect—Siegfried and Hagen’s men finding each other in act II’s second scene, for instance—are nicely done. The choral work is good.
As with the previous three dramas, Melba’s plush packaging provides the libretto in German and English, but no stage directions. There is a synopsis included, but it would be useful to see the detailed instructions Wagner provided in the score, especially when the action gets complicated (as when Siegfried alters his voice pretending to be Gunther.) Collectors who already own the first three installments of Melba’s
will need no encouragement to acquire this release. Others who want to sample the Australians’ considerable accomplishment would do quite well to start with
FANFARE: Andrew Quint
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players. Read less
Works on This Recording
Götterdämmerung by Richard Wagner
John Wegner (Bass Baritone),
Lisa Gasteen (Soprano),
Duccio Dal Monte (Bass),
Joanna Cole (Soprano),
Jonathan Summers (Baritone),
Liane Keegan (Alto),
Gaye MacFarlane (Soprano),
Elizabeth Campbell (Mezzo Soprano),
Timothy Mussard (Tenor),
Kate Ladner (Soprano),
Natalie Jones (Soprano),
Zan McKendree-Wright (Mezzo Soprano),
Donna-Maree Dunlop (Soprano)
Adelaide Symphony Orchestra,
State Opera of South Australia
Written: 1871-1874; Germany
Venue: Live Festival Adelaide, Australia
Length: 267 Minutes 0 Secs.
Notes: Festival Adelaide, Australia (11/16/2004 - 12/12/2004)
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