Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Saturday evening, we saw a production of "Siegfried" at the Teatro Comunale here in Florence. I had previously seen "Das Rheingold" in Mannheim, and together we had seen a fantastic "Die Walküre" at the National Opera in Washington DC, so this was the next part in the "Ring des Nibelungen" cycle. The production was a cooperation with the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia Valencia, and was conducted by Zubin Mehta, who had also conducted the free concert of Beethoven's Ninth this summer. Interestingly, the production was designed by La Fura dels Baus, a Catalan theater troupe (who also worked on an opera production in Mannheim a few years back, which I did not attend though). I guess Siegfried followed their usual aesthetic. Though I usually prefer modern productions (often it's the traditional ones that are a bit tiring), I felt that this one went a bit over the top. There were several large monitors/screens that provided the scenery and which could be moved around. While not a bad idea, the fact that there was always something playing on these, in combination with the many silent actors onstage (oftentimes unnecessarily -- people being hung upside down on meathooks during the question and answer part between Mime and Wotan in the first act?) made it seem like the staging was for people with ADD. It was simply too busy. (Some pictures of the production can be found here.) The singers were mostly good, with the standout performance for me being Ulrich Ress as Mime as well as Jennifer Wilson as Brünnhilde. Leonid Zakhozhaev gave a decent Siegfried, though somewhat weak in the forging song at the end of the first act, and with a rather bad accent that prevented me from understanding most of what he was singing (unfortunate when the subtitles are in Italian). Apparently, the role of Siegfried can be an unforgiving one, so I'll let that pass and hope for some improvement when "Götterdämmerung" comes to town next May.

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