Wagner referred to as his Ring Cycle a “musical drama.” In Virginia Opera’s manufacturing of The Valkyrie, the second installment of the collection, the music labored effectively. The drama not a lot.
The singers all give creditable performances of Wagner’s always-challenging music. Tenor Richard Trey Smagur, as Siegmund, and soprano Meghan Kasanders, as his twin sister/lover Sieglinde, have excellent sequences within the second act by which their singing not solely expressed their ardour however turned built-in with the orchestral sound in the way in which that may be a Wagner specialty.
As Wotan, head of Wagner’s pantheon, bass-baritone Kyle Albertson sang vibrantly within the higher elements of the function, although much less powerfully in its decrease reaches. His spouse, Fricka, sung by mezzo-soprano Claudia Chapa, was spot-on musically in her key one-scene function, giving larger depth to her character than one typically sees. As Wotan’s daughter, Brünnhilde, chief of the Valkyries, soprano Alexandra Loutsion confirmed heat and richness in her decrease register all through, an efficient distinction to the fervour and energy she displayed in her last confrontation along with her father. Bass Ricardo L. Lugo impressed within the transient function of Hunding, Sieglinde’s abusive husband.
The Virginia Symphony, performed by Adam Turner, acquitted itself effectively, with a wealthy sound and in good steadiness with the singers. Turner maintained a gradual, even stately, tempo all through.
Three dysfunctional household relationships kind the spine of The Valkyrie. Falling passionately in love with one’s long-lost twin, nearly at first sight, counts as a household difficulty even within the typically fantastical world of opera plots, and the Siegmund/Sieglinde connection units the story in movement by rousing Fricka’s lethal outrage.
Wotan and Fricka have a posh relationship by which Fricka, lengthy indignant over her husband’s fixed philandering, will get her means via skillfully manipulating him, pushing each button to guide him to do one thing he desperately desires to keep away from doing. Chapa, within the manufacturing’s finest performing flip, exhibits the viewers the psychological instruments she makes use of to manage Wotan, who emerges because the weaker accomplice within the marriage.
Wotan deeply loves Brünnhilde, whose dearest want is to hold out what her father desires to do in his coronary heart, even when opposite to what he orders her to do. Moved by Siegmund’s devotion, Brünnhilde rescues Sieglinde from Wotan’s wrath. Wotan, in flip, insists on punishing her for her defiance of his authority, even realizing the goodness of her motives. The opera’s last scene is an emotionally wrenching exploration of the dynamic between the 2.
Joachim Shamburger’s path is usually static, continuously leaving the singers within the “stand in a single place and sing” mode attribute of opera productions of many years in the past. On a number of events, a personality (e.g., Wotan or Siegmund) sings on one of many platforms upstage, leaving one other (e.g., Brünnhilde or Sieglinde) downstage dealing with away from the viewers, with a comply with spot squarely illuminating her again. In addition to stranding singers in unflattering poses at some size, this denies the viewers the chance to see the downstage character’s reactions, key in any drama.
The motion of key characters, significantly Siegmund, Sieglinde, and Brünnhilde, is usually sluggish, and a few moments of intense emotional engagement between Sieglinde and Siegmund, and Wotan and Brünnhilde, culminate in reasonably awkward hugs. Save for Chapa and, at occasions, Albertson, the extent of performing within the manufacturing was not excessive.
The setting for the opera depends closely on projections, which offer movement and exercise missing within the staging for the singers. The director’s observe explains that his manufacturing idea entails the rise and fall of the gods as an allegory for human evolution, as we depart farther from nature right into a digital world. The end result, nonetheless, is an excessively busy procession of photographs, a visible cacophony that continuously distracts from the characters and music. A number of the photographs are downright odd, comparable to Valhalla being pictured by way of a big, immobile, disco-ball-like sphere in entrance of what seems like a busy airport concourse. The general impact is one in all an idea imposed upon, reasonably than facilitating the presentation of, Wagner’s work.
With none apparently constant imaginative and prescient in thoughts, the costuming ranges from conventional (Sieglinde’s and Siegmund’s neutrally coloured garb) to showy (Fricka’s colourful costume and fan-shaped headpiece) to, as soon as once more, merely unusual. Brünnhilde and the opposite Valkyries (4, reasonably than the usual eight, maybe on account of budgetary limitations) put on one thing resembling soccer shoulder pads. Two folks sitting close to me likened Wotan’s costume, particularly his headgear, to that of a Star Trek Borg. (Having watched a great deal of Star Trek, I concur.) We are able to inform from the start that Sieglinde and Siegmund are associated as a result of they put on an identical, equally preposterous, lengthy white wigs.
Like Shakespeare, Wagner is a magnet for all method of conceptual experimentation by administrators. Typically it really works. For instance, the New York Instances not too long ago reviewed very favorably a brand new, explicitly experimental, Ring in Berlin. The Virginia Opera manufacturing was one of many events on which it didn’t. The staging issues didn’t diminish the enjoyment of the manufacturing’s musical virtues, nonetheless.
Operating Time: Three hours 20 minutes, together with one intermission (its size made doable by some seemingly even handed cuts from the unique within the adaptation by Jonathan Dove and Graham Vick).
Sung in German with English surtitles. (To the venue’s credit score, the October 9 efficiency was audio described for blind and low-vision patrons.)
The Valkyrie, produced by Virginia Opera, performed in Fairfax, VA, October 8 and 9, 2022, on the George Mason College Middle for the Arts and will probably be carried out subsequent October 14 and 15, 2022, within the Carpenter Theatre, 600 East Grace Road, Richmond, VA. Buy tickets ($20–$110) on-line.
COVID Security: Masking at performances just isn’t required, although is beneficial. For Virginia Opera’s COVID-19 Protocols are right here.
By Richard Wagner, Adaptation by Jonathan Dove and Graham Vick, Orchestrated by Jonathan Dove
Carried out by Adam Turner and Directed by Joachim Schamberger
Scenic & Costume Design by Courtroom Watson
The orchestra for this manufacturing is supplied by the Virginia Symphony Orchestra
Kyle Albertson, Wotan
Alexandra Loutsion, Brünnhilde
Richard Trey Smagur, Siegmund
Meghan Kasanders, Sieglinde
Claudia Chapa, Fricka/Waltraute
Ricardo L. Lugo, Hunding
Lesley Anne Pal, Helmwige
Adriane S. Kerr, Rossweisse
Courtney Johnson, Grimgerde