Culture Magazine

CD Review: Wagner From Another Age

By Superconductor @ppelkonen
The Sony Met Broadcasts of Die Walküre and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg

CD Review: Wagner From Another Age

Birgit Nilsson as Brünnhilde.
From the singer's archives.

These bargain-priced recordings are live broadcasts from 1968 (Die Walküre) and 1972 (Die Meistersinger.) They date from the fertile period right before James Levine rose to power at the opera house, and feature first-class casts of Wagner singers, generally in peak form. These are CD issues of live broadcasts, and are an invaluable purchase for any Wagnerian who wants to hear how great these operas sound in front of an audience.
The first of these is Die Walküre, with a dream cast of Birgit Nilsson, Leonie Rysanek and Jon Vickers as Siegmund. Nilsson is in exceptional form here, ringing off clarion tones with seemingly impossible ease. She is matched by the late, great Thomas Stewart, an underrated bass-baritone who sang the role of Wotan on the Karajan recording of this opera.
The Wälsung twins Siegmund and Sieglinde feature the near-ideal pairing of Jon Vickers and Leonie Rysanek. The two singers share great onstage chemistry from the first lines, and the first act crackles with repressed Wagnerian sexual energy. The onion in their ointment is the Hunding of Karl Ridderbusch, another underrated singer. He brings black, resonant tone to the most unsympathetic role in the opera. Croatian conductor Berislav Klobučar leads a brisk, invigorating performance in the model of his teacher, Clemens Krauss.

CD Review: Wagner From Another Age

Theo Adam as Hans Sachs.
Photo © Hamburg State Opera

Die Meistersinger was recorded four years later, with a strong cast anchored by Theo Adam's performance as Hans Sachs and James King's turn as Walther von Stolzing. Mr. Adam sounds completely at home in the live setting, indulging his sadomasochistic side at the expense of his apprentice David (Loren Driscoll) and singing with firm, dark tone. James King's clarion tenor is an ideal fit for Walther, and the Prize Song is sung with power and grace.
It also features the appearance of soprano Pilar Lorengar in a rare Wagnerian turn as Eva, Walther's love interest. Benno Kusche is a brusque, funny Beckmesser who involves the audience in his comic acts of artistic self-destruction, drawing them to laugh out loud in the second act.
This set was made two decades before the Met installed its titles system, so the presence of audience laughter testifies to the comic brilliance of Mr. Adam and Mr. Kusche. James Morris, who would take on the role of Sachs at the Met in the 1990s, appears here as Hans Schwarz, the stocking-weaver.
A recording like this one features the choristers tramping around Ye Olde Nuremberg in the third act, and there are problems balancing the onstage brass and percussion in the final scene. But the stage noises actually add to the feel of listening to a live performance, with the benefit of audience laughter in the second act. Thomas Schippers conducts a sprightly reading of the score and the Met orchestra and chorus are generally excellent.

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • How To Become "Parent Whisperer"

    I watched a documentary recently that inspired me. It's called "Buck." This man is a horse trainer/philosopher/life coach on whose work the movie "The Horse... Read more

    10 hours, 31 minutes ago by   Joanigeltman
  • How to Get Perfect Everyday Curls

    Perfect Everyday Curls

    Today’s post is sponsored by HerStyler. As always, all opinions are my own.  I’ve had a lot of people ask about my hair recently. My hair is naturally curly... Read more

    10 hours, 59 minutes ago by   Thesamanthashow
  • Launching This Month | Anastasia Beverly Hills Subculture Eyeshadow Palette

    Makeup lovers of this era are very well familiar with two of the famous Anastasia Beverly Hills products, their Dip Brow Pomades and the Modern Renaissance... Read more

    11 hours, 23 minutes ago by   Gorgeouslyflawed
  • Keto Chimichurri

    Keto Chimichurri

    Meal plansGet lots of weekly low-carb meal plans, complete with shopping lists and everything, with our premium meal planner tool (free trial).... Read more

    11 hours, 32 minutes ago by   Dietdoctor
  • Ellen’s Stardust Diner

    Ellen’s Stardust Diner

    Entertainment while you eat!The breakfast was outstanding and I was totally defeated the day I tried the Breakfast Burrito that was so much food, yes it... Read more

    11 hours, 45 minutes ago by   Caz
  • Top 5 Inatur Herbal Products for Dry Skin

    Inatur Herbal Products Skin

    Hello pretties, you know what. I have been wondering of late that if we have so many good herbal brands in India, why do we venture out and invest in foreign... Read more

    12 hours, 10 minutes ago by   Jhilmil D Saha
  • The Untreatable Borderline Personality Disorder Client: A Therapeutic Nightmare

    Borderline Personality Disorder is one of the hardest disorders of all to treat. It can be improved with some therapies but the road is long and hard. Many... Read more

    12 hours, 18 minutes ago by   Calvinthedog