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Dress rehearsal Die Walkure March 2nd 2005

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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 109
Location: Essex

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 4:48 pm    Post subject: Dress rehearsal Die Walkure March 2nd 2005 Reply with quote

I was lucky enough to have a ticket for the dress rehearsal of Die Walkure yesterday. Wow! How do I start trying to capture the experience in words?
One of the newspaper review clippings I have from Das Rheingold says that it was a “show that won’t melt any hearts”. Well, stand by and be prepared to be thawed. Die Walkure really turns up the heat!
If you saw Das Rheingold you are going to recognise a lot of the elements of the set. There are parts from the gods apartment room here in Act 1. The big long table and chairs is there, as is the huge long ladder downstage left but now the exposed roots of a tree plunge down into the depths in the centre of the stage and end in a swirl of metal embacing a suspended triangular shaped room. In Act 2 the disintegration of the apartment becomes apparent. Here now is the shattered hole in the glass screen left when Fafner killed Fasolt at the end of Das Rheingold; the well in the centre of the stage is blocked up and full of books, from which loose pages blow around; the red cord still hangs through the centre of the stage. The table and chairs are damaged- the seat backs ripped, the table veneer peeling, the book case doors broken and the shiny floor is crumbling. All is disintegrating as the world of the gods is slowly unravelling. There is more destruction to come. When Wotan decrees Siegmund must die he severs the red cord. When Siegmund refuses to follow Brunhilde to Valhalla he strikes the ladder and breaks it in two. All good symbolic stuff that I thought worked well without being too contrived.
In Act 3 the set is changed dramatically. Now a stark set consisting red floor with a bare white wall with a small door in one side on a revolving centre stage. There is still the metal swirl encompassing the stage. The Ride of the Walkure has the sisters seated on high backed black chairs and using horses head skulls as their mounts. I felt there was a mismatch between the excitement of the music and the stage action as this point. I don’t know what would have worked better, but this was, for me one of the only weak moments in an otherwise exemplary production.
You will also recognise some of the costumes. Wotan is clad as he was in Das Rheingold, black trousers white shirt open at the neck with a cream waistcoat and various dramatic long flowing top coats. The animal fur edged one, a beautifully patterned one that is reversed to plain black when he banishes Brunhilde and of course, his spear. Bryns eye makeup is as before, his hair is natural but greyed at the edges (I think-hard to tell from the ampitheatre!). His own “Wotan beard” as for Das Rheingold. Fricka has the most colourful costume, a dramatic blood red gown. The Walkure are all clad in mid length flowing black dresses and capes. Brunhilde also has a breastplate, shield and spangled eye patch when she visits Siegmund to warn him of his forthcoming death.

What is different form Das Rheingold is that the production is less intrusive. Now the focus is on the music and the charaterisation from the performers. There are not so many gimmicks to distract from the action. That is not to say that there aren’t some spectacular moments, but here they are brought about seamlessly by the combined effect of the music, the acting, the lighting and staging. The magic fire summoned by Wotan at the end to encircle the sleeping Brunhide is just that…magical. But it is not just the clever way the small flame spreads sweeping around the metal grid encircling the stage, picked up into the hand of Wotan ( how did they do that?) and then cast into a vast burning circle, it is the whole effect. The powerful climax to Wotans farewell, so wonderfully sung by Bryn “ Wer meines Speeres Spitze furchtest, durchschreite das feuer nie!” rings out over the huge orchestra while the real flames burn around the stage. Just wonderful.
Also different is the intensity of emotion in this performance. All the parts are beautifully played. Hunding (Stephen Milling) is brutal and domineering. Terrifying with malice when he crashes his axe into the table on seeing Siegmund in his house, the menace expertly conveyed through vocal tone and diction. Siegmund and Sieglinde ( Jorma Silvasti and Katarina Dalayman) are powerful and lyrical in the great love duet at the end of Act 1. Rosalind Plowright as Fricka is imperious and unbending. The scene with Wotan where she demands the death of Siegmund is gripping. Bryn takes us through a gamut of emotion moving through anger, frustration and a sad tenderness towards Fricka that took me by surprise and reveals the regret Wotan feels for the lost love between this husband and wife.
But the real focus of this drama is the relationship between Wotan and Brunhilde. That relationship is established in the energetic opening to Act 2 where Brunhilde swings herself down the huge ladder whooping out her war cries. She is her fathers daughter, a tom boy who rides in battle with her father, clearly adored and adoring.
Here the relationship is ‘jokey’ two mates-in-the-pub, but the tender depth of the father/daughter relationship is revealed when Brunhilde coaxes Wotan to tell her his troubles. Standing back to back with hands entwined, Wotan starts to reveal his worries. I have never heard these great long monologues sung so well as Bryn sang them today. The diction was crystal clear and he gave it a fantastic range of colour through the changing moods of the unfolding dilemma. The self -loathing and disgust when he pleads for the end was heart rending. Also heart rending was the moment at the end of Act 3 when he embraces Brunhilde for the last time and kissed her- not the sweet gentle kiss of a father for a baby, but the passionate long kiss of a lover.

Beautifully acted. Musically superb. Lighting and set magical. I know that any of us is always going to admire Bryns part in all this the most, but there is no way you can achieve such a stunning performance without the whole team. It was just perfect. I was transported for the whole performance and beyond. Seeing this Walkure is an emotional roller coaster. “That was cathartic” was the comment I overheard while walking shell-shocked into the cold London evening. Indeed.
If you have a ticket to see this, learn how to cry quietly!

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Joined: 10 Dec 2004
Posts: 12
Location: Salt Lake City

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 6:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Helen, thanks so much for that review. It is wonderful to read such a detailed description, especially for those of us who won't be able to see it.
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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
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Location: Pontardawe

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2005 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Helen. I'll pack the tissues
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Joined: 28 Oct 2004
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 12:59 pm    Post subject: Dress Rehearsal Reply with quote

Helen, can't really add any more than others have said already. Your report made me feel I was there. Your excitement was infectious. Hope all those going have a wonderful time. From what you have said the actual performance sounds breathtaking.

Best wishes

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Joined: 30 Oct 2004
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2005 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow! I'm breathless just reading that - heaven knows what I'll be like when I see the BBC broadcast over Easter. Can't wait, Helen, thanks for such an emotional report! I only wish I could be in the theatre to get the real atmosphere.
Beth Crying or Very sad
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