Concert Review: Die Walkure, Auckland Town Hall

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Photo / Supplied
Photo / Supplied

Alas, superlatives are inadequate to do the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra's Die Walkure justice.

A full house and a long standing ovation indicated pleasures anticipated and, at the end of almost six hours, thoroughly enjoyed.

This was viable Wagner, tailored for straitened times. With singers giving their dramatic all in front of the massive orchestra, the theatrical impact of the opera was never compromised.

Pietari Inkinen sustained a sumptuous, perfectly paced orchestral flow, springing into passionate bloom for the young lovers, ushering in the Valkyries with whiplash thrills.

Simon O'Neill's Siegmund had the confidence of a man in full command of a role he will take on in this year's Covent Garden Ring; Edith Haller was a luscious-toned Sieglinde, a singer with immense vocal reserves.

If O'Neill was a master tale-teller in the first act, so was John Wegner's Wotan in the second, with his potted but poetic account of the story so far. A less-than-robust voice lent the troubled God a certain melancholic air.

Wagner's shrewd sense of psychology came out when a soul-weary Wotan had to fend off the bitter Fricka, played by Margaret Medlyn, appropriately fearsome to her last snapped consonant.

Christine Goerke's Brunnhilde was the most subtly characterised role, moving from a devoted, almost kittenish daughter to a tragic, broken spirit; a great journey undertaken in full and glorious voice.

Two scenes with Wotan caressing his daughter's face hinted that perhaps Siegmund and Sieglinde's relationship may not have been alone in its murkiness.

The Valkyries did not race around with helmets and spears; the eight women, nearly all New Zealanders, lined up across the stage and delivered; a formidable feminist fortress adding a physical dimension to Wagner's brilliant vocal demands.

Indeed, the only disappointment was Jonathan Lemalu's impressively menacing but raw-voiced Hunding.

Die Walkure has coincided with our community having major concerns about the governmental role in the support of our orchestras. With performances like this, democratically relayed through the country on Radio New Zealand Concert, the only change needed is increased funding.

OPERA

What: Die Walkure
Where: Auckland Town Hall
When: Saturday.

- NZ Herald

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