Wagner: Die Walküre / Zagrosek, Staatsoper Stuttgart

Release Date: 9/26/2006
Label: Naxos
Catalog Number: 8660172-74
Composer: Richard Wagner
Conductor: Lothar Zagrosek
Orchestra/Ensemble: Stuttgart State Orchestra
Number of Discs: 3

Physical Format:

In Stock
Notes and Editorial Reviews

WAGNER Die Walküre Lothar Zagrosek, cond; Robert Gambill ( Siegmund ); Angela Denoke ( Sieglinde ); Attila Jun ( Hunding ); Jan-Hendrik Rootering ( Wotan ); Renate Behle ( Brünnhilde ); Tichina Vaughn ( Fricka ); Stuttgart St O NAXOS 8.660172 (3 CDs: 244:01) Live: Stuttgart 9/29/2002 & 1/2/2003

Lothar Zagrosek’s 2002–2003 Stuttgart Ring was previously released on DVD and the entire cycle was reviewed in Fanfare 28:5. It’s actually my least favorite of the six Ring s available (or almost available, in terms of completeness) on video. The Stuttgart production employed four different directors and four completely different sets of singers, with variable results: Rheingold and Walküre were not as successful, theatrically, as the later two operas. But, as noted in 28:5, a uniformly strong aspect of the cycle was Zagrosek’s leadership and the Stuttgart Staatsorchester’s performance proved uniformly strong. The sonics, too, were a plus, presenting the orchestra with impact and detail.

Naxos has been issuing the individual operas on CD— Das Rheingold was covered in 30:1—and this Walküre is a winner. Robert Gambill, as Siegmund, starts off a bit stiffly, but warms up by scene 2 (“Friedmund darf ich nicht heissen”), his voice gaining in body and expressiveness. By the end of the act, he’s more than sufficiently ardent and heroic. Angela Denoke’s Sieglinde sounds young and noble, with a full and secure top range. In act II, she communicates her character’s panic and shame without scenery chewing, and her exchange with Brünnhilde near the outset of act III is outstanding. Attila Jun’s a threatening, dark-voiced Hunding.

The mood produced by Zagrosek, Behle, and Rootering at the start of the second act is exuberant, and Fricka’s arrival really does seem to spoil a good vibe. Tichina Vaughn is the only disappointment in this cast; her representation of Fricka tends more towards a Margaret Dumont kind of matronliness than an embodiment of wounded dignity. After she’s gone, though, the act moves from strength to strength. Rootering’s monologue is nicely paced, building effectively to “Das Ende—das Ende!” It’s potently clear that this is the defining moment of Wotan’s self-understanding. Likewise, Renate Behle has us appreciate that Brünnhilde learns what she needs to know about romantic love from Siegfried and Sieglinde, not four acts later when a clueless Siegfried awakens her.

The Valkyries are a spirited group vocally, possessing distinctive voices that are easy to tell apart. Rootering is very imposing—the mass of his vocal instrument, without fraying, seems equal to that of Brünnhilde’s eight sisters combined. Wotan delivers his errant daughter’s sentence with all the vehemence of Alberich’s curse in Rheingold , and it’s apparent that Brünnhilde has her work cut out for her to calm down her father. This she does compellingly, beginning with “War es so schmählich.” Rootering’s “Leb Wohl” is as heartfelt as his condemnation 30 minutes earlier.

As is usual with this label’s operas, the libretto, if you need one, is available online. For under $30, Naxos’s Walküre is a bargain. This is big-league Wagner, highly recommended.

FANFARE: Andrew Quint
Works on This Recording
1. Die Walküre by Richard Wagner
Performer: Magdalena Schäfer (Soprano), Angela Denoke (Soprano), Stella Kleindienst (Soprano), Renate Behle (Soprano), Attila Jun (Baritone), Robert Gambill (Tenor), Helene Ranada (Mezzo Soprano), Maria Theresa Ullrich (Mezzo Soprano), Nidia Palacios (Mezzo Soprano), Tichina Vaughn (Mezzo Soprano), Eva-Maria Westbroek (Soprano), Margit Diefenthal (Alto), Jan-Hendrik Rootering (Bass), Wiebke Göetjes (Soprano)
Conductor: Lothar Zagrosek
Orchestra/Ensemble: Stuttgart State Orchestra
Period: Romantic
Written: 1856 ; Germany
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