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The Last Night - Gotterdammerung 22 May

On the anniversary of his birthday – 22 May – Wagner would have been very well pleased with this performance. The narrative was crystal clear, the sets were interesting and actually added to the drama, the singers – all of them – were in top voice, the acting was superb and the orchestra, under the baton of resident conductor Philippe Auguin was spot on and there was not ONE dancer in sight!

This was an exemplary night. To my mind this Gotterdammerung is one of the best I have ever seen. My first Ring was in 1990 – the Kupfer/Baremboin Ring – and this will always be the best

The Norn scene was vocally and dramatically exciting. Instead of the tread of life the Norns struggled with massive glass fibre cables. When the connection broke off with a flash half the audience jumped. The Norms were in fine voice. This is often a hard scene for an audience to deal with and the measure of success is the apparent time lapse. In this case we are talking about five minutes!

This is not a review so I will not go through the opera scene by scene – though it deserves it.

Act 1. 5 out of 5. Thrilling.

Act 2

We had high expectations for Act 2 and they were fulfilled. The act opens with Hagen in bed with Gutrune trying to make a TV remote respond. I shared his frustration. Some didn’t like this aspect but I thought the Hagen/Alberich interplay worked. Both were in fine voice. The oath scene was moving and the Chorus was spectacular.

(Yes these notes are full of superlatives)

Act 2, 5 out of 5. Thrilling Act 3

We staggered back for Act 3 with smiles on our faces. Those 80 (sic) or so Australians at the Ring were saying ‘the trip was worth it just foe this opera’.

The dramatic moment just now continued. Siegfried’s funeral march did not disappoint though there was some overacting by the dying hero (Mino point!)

Nina Stemma did not disappoint in the Immolation scene. This was an exciting voice at its peak and the acting from this consummate performer was simply first rate. Yes, we had shivers up the spine.

One controversial aspect of the immolation scene was the takeover of Gibichung HQ by the hitherto repressed women folk. This political statement was not necessary but I had no problems with it.

The curtain call saw the stage filled with a happy cast, chorus and orchestra as well as the Conductor and Director Francesca Zambello. The biggest cheer was for Ninna Stemma but all on stage received a thunderous reception.

Act 3 and the opera itself. A thrilling 5 out of 5. Cast  Nina Stemme Gutrune – Melissa Citro Waltraute – Jamie Barton Siegfried –Daniel Brenna Gunther – Ryan McKinny Alberich – Gordon Hawkins Hagen – Eric Halfvarson.

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Afterthoughts from the Armfield Ring, Melbourne 2013
—Roger Cruickshank

It’s nearly a year since Opera Australia’s first Ring cycle was staged in Melbourne, and I’ve been reflecting on some of the peripheral matters that still drift in and out of my memory of that event. Those of you who attended will have your own experiences and memories, and I don’t want to disturb these, dear reader. I will therefore virtually ignore the production. My random thoughts, in no relevant order, follow.

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Sylvia Greenberg and David Aronson Big Voice Master Class for Harbour City Opera
— Leona Geeves

The Wagner Society was asked by Harbour City Opera to help sponsor this class and we were happy to do so. In the absence of a report back from HCO, here are my thoughts.

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From the Sublime to the Ridiculous: The Long, Strange Ride Of Wagner’s Valkyries
- James Wierzbicki

Dr Wierzbicki is Higher Degree Research Coordinator and senior lecturer in musicology, among other positions at Sydney University. Previously on the musicology staffs of the University of Michigan and the University of California-Irvine and for more than twenty years the chief classical music critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other large American newspapers, James Wierzbicki currently focuses on twentieth-century music in general and film music in particular. His books include Film Music: A History (Routledge, 2009), monographs on the American composer Elliott Carter (University of Illinois Press, 2011) and the electronic score for the 1956 film Forbidden Planet (Scarecrow Press, 2005).

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