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The Sieglinde of Linda Watson belies her looks at the start (the curtain is already up) by roaming the stage in neurotic terror at the storm, while Richard Berkeley-Steele's Siegmund seems to be shinning up the netting. It is an odd point in the production that, while Wagner and the orchestra are insistently assuring us the sword is not only visible but that Siegmund is fixedly contemplating it, the haft remains pitch-black and Siegmund continues dallying with Sieglinde. But during their colloquy the sword is effectively drawn from the tree [listen -- DVD1 chapter 8, 3:27-5:01, 'Ein Schwert verhieß mir der Vater']. Sieglinde likewise makes passionate response in her comparison of Siegmund to the Spring, by which time the netting has turned green [listen -- DVD1 chapter 11, 0:00-1:22, 'Du bist der Lenz, nach dem ich verlangte'].

Wotan's merciless drubbing from Fricka (Lioba Braun) in Act 2. DVD screenshot © 2005 Opus Arte
Wotan's merciless drubbing from Fricka (Lioba Braun) in Act 2. DVD screenshot © 2005 Opus Arte

Wotan gets a merciless drubbing from the Fricka of Lioba Braun, who acts with consummate skill and leaves her husband as frustrated victim of Alberich's curse [listen -- DVD2 chapter 8, 1:10-2:42, 'Was keinem in Worten ich künde']. Struckmann is finely convincing in his portentous and lengthy narration to Deborah Polaski as Brünnhilde, which can be wearisome if the words are enunciated less clearly than here.

Brünnhilde (Deborah Polaski) prepares Siegmund (Richard Berkeley-Steele) for death (Act 2). DVD screenshot © 2005 Opus Arte
Brünnhilde (Deborah Polaski) prepares Siegmund (Richard Berkeley-Steele) for death (Act 2). DVD screenshot © 2005 Opus Arte

Brünnhilde has the carefree athleticism for her initial 'Hojotohos' but modulates in mien and vocal colour to her death announcement for Siegmund, about to fight the vocally powerful and stocky Hunding of Eric Halfvarson [listen -- DVD2 chapter 15, 0:08-1:09, 'So wenig achtest du ewige Wonne?']. Nothing could be more tender or effective than her bundling off the now dishevelled Sieglinde for their aerial flight.

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Copyright © 12 June 2005 Robert Anderson, London UK

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