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HomeTheatreMichael Volle’s Wotan dominates the diminishing returns of Dmitri Tcherniakov’s Berlin Die...

Michael Volle’s Wotan dominates the diminishing returns of Dmitri Tcherniakov’s Berlin Die Walküre – Seen and Heard Worldwide


Germany Wagner, Die Walküre: Soloists, Staatskapelle Berlin / Christian Thielemann (conductor). Filmed (directed by Andy Sommer) on 30.10.2022 at Staatsoper Unter den Linden however obtainable till 17.2.2023 on ARTE Live performance. (JPr)

Michael Volle (Wotan) and Anja Kampe (Brünnhilde) © Monika Rittershaus

Manufacturing:
Director, Set Design – Dmitri Tcherniakov
Costumes – Elena Zaytseva
Lighting – Gleb Filshtinsky
Video – Alexey Poluboyarinov
Dramaturgy – Tatiana Werestchagina, Christoph Lang

Solid:
Siegmund – Robert Watson
Sieglinde – Vida Miknevičiūtė
Hunding – Mika Kares
Wotan – Michael Volle
Brünnhilde – Anja Kampe
Fricka – Claudia Mahnke
Gerhilde – Clara Nadeshdin
Helmwige – Christiane Kohl
Waltraute – Michal Doron
Schwertleite – Alexandra Ionis
Ortlinde – Anett Fritsch
Siegrune – Natalia Skrycka
Grimgerde – Anna Lapkovskaja
Rossweisse – Kristina Stanek

After Dmitri Tcherniakov established the Konzept for his new Ring cycle with Das Rheingold (overview click on right here) there are diminishing returns along with his Die Walküre and it’s clear his experiments in human behaviour and social interactions are going significantly off the rails. If Rheingold started on the ‘Analysis Centre’ within the Nineteen Sixties then time has now moved on a number of years and we first see Wotan voyeuristically observing Sieglinde combing her hair from his workplace by a big one-way mirror. She is in her dwelling quarters which has an open skeletal framework and is fitted out with all mod cons seemingly from IKEA. There’s a bed room, lounge with desk, chairs and couch, kitchen, bathe and bathroom all on one degree. Through the Prelude (stormy and rain-soaked within the music if not on stage) we see a ‘Legal Report’ a couple of prisoner who ‘managed to flee throughout an accident with a prisoner transport van’ and the outline of him is ‘1’85, gray hair on left temple’ and the way he’s ‘aggressive and psychologically unstable’. In fact, that’s Siegmund who arrives at Sieglinde’s door (not that there was one) in his maroon hooded jacket. She is in a gold knitted prime over a patterned costume and will get water for Siegmund from the fridge.

Sieglinde already appears to reside on her nerves and that’s made worse by the arrival of her abusive husband within the uniform of a high-ranking safety officer and – in a scene of domesticity reminiscent from Tcherniakov’s latest Bayreuth Der fliegende Holländer – the desk is laid for a meal for Siegmund and Hunding and Sieglinde serves them soup, adopted by meat and potatoes. Hunding cleans his gun earlier than threatening Sieglinde with it after which mistreating her. The set turns and we see Hunding’s night-time drink being drugged and he’s proven getting ready for mattress the place Sieglinde will be part of him. Siegmund has been handcuffed, although Sieglinde quickly sneaks off the bed to unlock him. What she is indicating above the mirror is unclear even in closeup and she or he seems more and more neurotic and to be retreating right into a (romantic?) fantasy world. Nonetheless – in the one factor Wagner would recognise to date – there truly is a sword buried within the wall which Siegmund retrieves earlier than the set turns once more to indicate Wotan wanting on.

The second act opens with Sieglinde and Siegmund gathering their belongings and setting off earlier than Wotan (in lime inexperienced swimsuit) enters to retrieve some champagne from the fridge and have a self-congratulatory drink with Brünnhilde (in white shirt, black slacks and blue overcoat). Quickly Wotan and Fricka (gold shirt and brown skirt) are bickering in his workplace. They quickly return to the home to proceed their argument and Hunding will finally get up, costume and go away unnoticed by Fricka and Wotan who’s made to signal a contract limiting his actions in relation to Siegmund. Wotan roams round taking his anger out on inanimate objects such because the desk and later the information in his workplace, in addition to Brünnhilde who he finally forces to obey him. The dichotomy between what we see and listen to continues as she sings about how her (non-existent) weapons weigh her down.

Robert Watson (Siegmund) and Vida Miknevičiūtė (Sieglinde) © Monika Rittershaus

The lab with the rabbits rises up and Sieglinde is there wanting as if she is shedding contact with actuality earlier than showing to faint by the carry and be cradled in Siegmund’s arms. She’ll get better sufficient to go all the way down to the bottom ground (Nibelheim in Rheingold) and when she collapses once more Siegmund carries her to the final of the three small labs. Brünnhilde is initially pretty static and distanced from Siegmund for the Todesverkündigung. Sieglinde rouses herself as soon as once more – although wanting more and more comatose – and can beat herself up after Brünnhilde and Siegmund go away to prepare for the confrontation with Hunding which we don’t get to see. Nonetheless, we do get to see the Norns tending to the rabbits after which on a naked stage, after Wotan’s ‘Geh! Geh!’ command for Hunding to kneel earlier than Fricka, as an alternative of falling down lifeless he simply walks off. Siegmund is then set upon by riot police and nothing occurs with any sword so far as I might see.

We be taught that Act III is ‘Previous to the evaluation of the sector analysis on violence’ and we’re again within the lecture theatre from Rheingold. We’ll finally see the Valkyries lounging round it, they’re all in darkish garments and have backpacks or different luggage. They’re undoubtedly college students, however of what? As an alternative of their heroes, we learn on a display screen the psychological portraits of assorted take a look at topics, one in all whom is a ‘covert sadist’ and one other an ‘aggressor’. Certainly one of them was born in 1965 so we have to be now a while within the mid-Eighties. Brünnhilde brings in Sieglinde who now appears completely out of it, she pulls herself collectively on the information of the kid she carries and is given a damaged sword wrapped in plastic and informed the place she will go to be secure. Sieglinde leaves solely to be introduced again when Wotan is available in. From this level he’s hardly ever nonetheless and since issues aren’t going to plan it’s all clearly taking a psychological toll on Wotan too and he’ll want the cigarette he later lights (there’s loads of smoking on this Ring). In his anger he throws across the chairs although the Valkyries don’t notably look that afraid of him earlier than they merely go away together with Sieglinde. Wotan is more and more a damaged man however reaches a rapprochement along with his errant daughter they usually embrace. Brünnhilde begins play-acting with Wotan as if she is regressing to her childhood. She flutters her fingers standing on a chair in the midst of a circle of them on which she has drawn flames with a felt pen. Wotan brings her down and the set recedes together with him to go away Brünnhilde along with her backpack on the entrance of the stage because the lonely sufferer of an estranged household relationship.

What’s more and more clear is that – no matter his Konzept – Tcherniakov’s Personregie has raised the appearing of his forged on this Die Walküre to a degree extra expertise in straight theatre or a TV drama than in an opera home. It is usually not a lot how every of an achieved forged act however how they react to others on stage with them. In truth when you strip away the ‘Analysis Centre’ setting you’ll nonetheless have a near-perfect semi-staging in trendy garments. Entrance and centre – nearly actually – all through the opera was Michael Volle’s outstanding Wotan. Remembering that I used to be listening by loudspeakers, it was a marvel of stage presence, vocal manufacturing and verbal readability. Sometimes there even was a Lieder-like high quality to Volle’s singing and he gave a nuance portrayal of somebody who was as soon as boastful and is now browbeaten and more and more bitter. He ends nearly as mentally broken as the topics of his experiments. Equally spectacular was Vida Miknevičiūtė’s Sieglinde sung with thrilling abandon and coronary heart on her sleeve emotion, and she or he proves herself to be one other unbelievable actor. Mika Kares sang Hunding with biting menace while unleashing the darkest of bass tones. Claudia Mahnke introduced a straightforward authority to a domineering Fricka giving Wotan no likelihood to win their battle. Robert Watson was a reliable Siegmund and his tenor voice had dramatic virality, although I’ve heard the function sung significantly better. Lastly, Anja Kampe’s ‘Hojotohos’ had been nearly a cry for assist and she or he remained sometimes shouty, although elsewhere she introduced radiance and expressive shading to her impulsive Brünnhilde. The enthusiastic Valkyries had been the standard eclectic mix of voices.

Whatever the stage photos Christian Thielemann focussed on the color and majesty of Wagner’s rating. He maintained a flawless management of line, in addition to ebb and movement, even when some tempos had been noticeably slower than we could also be used to today. All in all, he turned Die Walküre right into a virtuoso piece for the Staatskapelle Berlin.

Jim Pritchard

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