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Act 2 opens with a wonderfully dark and atmospheric prelude from Barenboim and the orchestra. This Act has moments of what can be pure comedy, but here, even when Siegfried is attempting to play his reed pipe, the audience never laughs, which is either a comment on the nature of Kupfer's staging or says something about the audience at Bayreuth. Perhaps the closest that the set comes to comedy is Alberich and Mime's encounter after Siegfried has killed Fafner; this has a grim liveliness which approaches the comedy that surely Wagner intended.

Günter von Kannen's Alberich is familiar from Das Rheingold and his dialogue with the Wanderer before Fafner's cave is dramatically involving even if he is not quite an ideal Alberich in sound.

Jerusalem's Siegfried grows up during this Act. He makes the awkward Forest murmurs scene reasonably convincing and his killing of Fafner (Philip Kang in fine voice) only lacks some stunning visuals. By the end of the Act, when he kills Mime and goes off to seek Brünnhilde, you feel he is a maturer person [listen -- CD9, track 10, 0:00-1:10]. My only reservation is the amount of caricature which at times seems to creep into Graham Clark's Mime; if he had adopted a less-is-more approach, he would have been a very fine Mime indeed [listen -- CD7 track 22, 0:00-1:03].

Act 3 opens of course with Wotan's dramatic encounter with Erda. It was good to return to Brigitta Svenden's firm voiced Erda and she helped point up Wotan's desperation in this scene [listen -- CD9 track 14, 0:00-1:37]. Tomlinson sounds a little tired, at this point, but that is hardly surprising and he is never less than impressive.

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Copyright © 8 August 2005 Robert Hugill, Strasbourg, France


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