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Die Walküre -
reviewed by
ROBERT ANDERSON

'... live performances that rightly earn due applause act by act ...'

Wagner: Die Walküre. © 2005 Opus Arte

The action of this Barcelona Walküre, whether in Hunding's hut, on mountain summits, or in the gorge where Siegmund must be felled, is confined by a barrier of enlarged wire-netting, presumably making the point that all characters of the drama are imprisoned. The other main prop is the World Ash Tree from which Wotan originally carved his spear, which Harry Kupfer and Hans Schavernoch as producer and set designer will diminish through successive evenings of The Ring. It makes a convincing repository for the sword in Die Walküre Act 1 and a convenient bed somewhere in the mountains for the sleeping Brünnhilde at the end of the work.

Sieglinde (Linda Watson) dallying with Siegmund (Richard Berkeley-Steele) in front of the World Ash Tree in Act 1 of Die Walküre. DVD screenshot © 2005 Opus Arte
Sieglinde (Linda Watson) dallying with Siegmund (Richard Berkeley-Steele) in front of the World Ash Tree in Act 1 of Die Walküre. DVD screenshot © 2005 Opus Arte

Wagner is at pains during The Ring to differentiate musically gods, giants, dwarfs, Erda, the Valkyrie brood, and ultimately the humans. The Barcelona Wotan of Falk Struckmann, with dark glasses and pigtail (sensibly tucked away for the aerial galop to the Valkyries' perch), looks hardly more divine than anyone on a well-earned break at the seaside. Giants, dwarfs and Erda are only hinted at in snatches of musical motif. The helmeted and spear-waving Valkyries are certainly convincing enough as they stride through a multitude of scantily-clad male corpses. Of the humans, Sieglinde is initially got up as the impeccable heroine of any British wartime film, and then the warrior corpses are prodded by the Valkyries so as to become vertical again and presumably more manageable for the flight to Valhalla.

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Copyright © 12 June 2005 Robert Anderson, London UK

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