Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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The Once and Future King

April 29, 2009

Now you're in trouble, Act III of Die Walküre
Photo: Ken Howard/Met Opera 2009

And on the second day there was Die Walküre. It occurs to me that there may be nothing more difficult to do on stage than look girlish while drinking mead from an animal horn. (Or perhaps mixing a mickey into the mead by swishing the horn around in big circles before putting the big sleep on your hunter hubby could be a close second.) In any event, I’m not going to belabor the point about the hopefully soon to be incinerated Otto Schenk production of the Ring. Instead let’s talk about something positive like Placido Domingo. He’s simply electrifying. Here he was again doing Siegmund as no one else can in the world right now, creating far more flames than all the red lights, smoke and paper in Act III. The audience is wild for him and I must admit, despite the ridiculous wig, he was mighty, mighty impressive singing circles around everyone else. It's the fourth time I've heard him sing the part this month, and it's still amazing. He’s unrestrained here, able to expressively act his heart out, which he does. He’s onstage with Adrianne Pieczonka as Sieglinde most of the time who is a reasonable foil if lacking in some of his warmth. Even the magnificent René Pape is relegated to second fiddle in his presence, but I’m sure we’ll hear much more from him in the Wagner part of the repertory as time goes by.

The biggest problem with tonight’s Walküre is that there is only so much opera for Domingo to sing in this part. The other half of the evening is primarily occupied by a much less illustrious pair. Albert Dohmen was Wotan again tonight, but I often felt he was holding back a little. Throughout much of Act II, he seemed to lose the overall line to staccato bursts of phrasing. He would often get run over by the orchestra, which was not having the best of all possible nights either. There were several mishaps in the horn section over the course of these 4 or five hours, which, granted, is not unheard of either in this particular marathon. Then there is the matter of Katarina Dalayman, the official third or fourth choice for tonight's Brünnhilde after at least two other cancellations. I found her voice a little low for the part overall and the middle seemed to be absent altogether. She could hit the high notes and had a fair amount of power behind them, but could get screamy on her way there. Act III pretty much unraveled, but not to the point that things were painful, just a little boring. Let’s put it this way, the real wonder of Wagner is that you can leave Die Walküre after 5 hours wanting to immediately go back in for more of the story. Tonight, I’m just glad to have a day off.

Back to Domingo… You may want to pick up his latest DVD release as Bajazet in Handel’s Tamerlano. It’s a role he’s been doing around the world and will reprise in a production originaly from Washington in L.A. later in the fall. This time it’s a Graham Vick staging in Madrid recorded for Opus Arte. Check it out.



here we have a typical example of how a critic can falsify a report of a whole evening only because he has to obey to the rules of marketing

Wotan did an incredible evening finding he climax with an unforgettable farewell (Leb wohl du kühnes herrliches Kind ) that he sang after 4 hours with an absolutely fresh voice that made many of us cry (

How can you just ignore all that ???
I have made a career out of ignoring the tears of people easily moved by the maudlin and obvious.

As for the marketing issue, I wouldn't know much about that considering I got my tickets the old-fashioned way, I bought them (Center Orchestra, Row U, thank you very much).
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