- Siegfried, opera, WWV 86c
The most striking aspect of this live 2011 performance of "Siegfried" at the Frankfurt Opera is the stellar playing by Frankfurter Opern- und Museumsorchester, led by Sebastian Weigle. The performance is exceptionally colorful, with subtly differentiated textures. The playing frequently has the intimacy and nuance of chamber music, so Wagner's delicate filigrees of sound are finely highlighted. The brass overall, and particularly the horns, sound especially fabulous. When the orchestra is required to pull out all the stops, Weigle draws out a wonderfully powerful surge of sound that fully conveys the emotional intensity of the drama. Terje Stensvold as Der Wanderer stands out among the soloists. His authoritative bearing and resonant, oaken timbre are ideally suited to the role, and he dominates the proceedings whenever he is onstage. Peter Marsh is also very fine as Mime. His is not an especially beautiful voice, but it has plenty of power, and it's perfect for his vivid and memorable portrayal of the scheming dwarf, alternately bombastic and sniveling. Lance Ryan makes a valiant effort as Siegfried, and on its own terms his performance stands up, but he doesn't have the clarion, heroic tone or projection of the finest recorded Siegfrieds. Susan Bullock has sung all three Brunnhildes, and her voice sounds especially well-suited to lyricism of the role in this opera. Meredith Arwady has power and presence as Erda, but the extent of her vibrato may not please all listeners. Coloratura Kateryna Kasper makes a strong impression as Der Stimme des Waldvogels. Weigle and stage director Vera Nemirova draw strongly emotional performances from the singers, whose conviction contributes to the dramatic urgency of this performance. The sound is superbly detailed and well-balanced. This may not be the first or only "Siegfried" a listener may want to own, but the superlative orchestral playing and Stensvold's magisterial Wanderer make it a recording that fans of the opera will want to hear.