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Thielemann’s Siegfried is fantastically crafted as Tcherniakov explores the lack of childhood innocence – Seen and Heard Worldwide

Germany Wagner, Siegfried: Soloists, Staatskapelle Berlin / Christian Thielemann (conductor). Filmed (directed by Andy Sommer) on 6.10.2022 at Staatsoper Unter den Linden however obtainable till 17.2.2023 on ARTE Live performance. (JPr)

Andreas Schager (Siegfried) and Anja Kampe (Brünnhilde) © Monika Rittershaus

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

Siegfried – Andreas Schager
Mime – Stephan Rügamer
The Wanderer – Michael Volle
Alberich – Johannes Martin Kränzle
Fafner – Peter Rose
Erda – Anna Kissjudit
Brünnhilde – Anja Kampe
The Woodbird – Victoria Randem

This can be a companion piece to my latest Die Walküre evaluation (click on right here) and I can’t repeat all of the optimistic and negatives of Dmitri Tcherniakov’s new stagings I’ve mentioned there however consider how his new Ring cycle continued with Siegfried. We’re, as anticipated, nonetheless on the ‘Analysis Centre’. Through the opening Prelude we watch the troubled upbringing of a younger boy proven in his underwear and enjoying with giant Lego bricks. We see how time has moved on additional with the sight of three, now aged wanting, Norns going via some recordsdata in what we recognise as Wotan’s workplace. There isn’t any forge and Mime is in the home we first noticed in Walküre and he appears to be like fairly previous too. He’s following one thing he’s studying in a moderately worn ledger-like e-book that we’ll later see has ‘Memoiren 1965-1990 Mime’ on the entrance cowl. Given how Mime, Wotan/Wanderer, Alberich, Erda, Fafner, although not Brünnhilde, have aged we should now be on the flip of the final century. The acquainted forging sounds we’re used to are created by Mime’s tapping pen and his banging cutlery across the kitchen.

Siegfried enters carrying the pores and skin of a bear and the masks of Wotan as we noticed him the opposite operas and carries an extended stick. (I’d usually go away feedback on the singing till later within the evaluation however – even accepting I used to be listening via loudspeakers – I didn’t recognise most of the notes that Andreas Schager was singing as Siegfried at this level and this continued on and off for many of the first act.) Clearly, Siegfried is somebody with anger administration points. He breaks the plastic sword he’s supplied and distains a ‘Sword within the Stone’ cake. In his blue Adidas tracksuit Siegfried is barely ever nonetheless all through the opera. Mime in plaid shirt and brown trousers and carrying glasses will turn into – much more of – a nervous wreck because the act proceeds and there’s an array of medicines on the sink. Siegfried’s room is stuffed with the Lego we noticed within the video, in addition to Playmobil and different toys. When Siegfried sings about seeing his personal face we see the grizzled Wanderer briefly within the one-way mirror he’s . Mime tries to placate Siegfried with the wrapped-up sword fragments however is roughly handled by him earlier than he rushes out.

Andreas Schager (Siegfried) and Stephan Rügamer (Mime) © Monika Rittershaus

Mime opens up the couch mattress and is preparing for mattress when the Wanderer, along with his flat cap and tacky coat, is available in hobbling on a stick, although he’s placing it on a bit. Over tea on the desk, the Wanderer solutions his questions however the more and more twitchy Mime doesn’t know – regardless of referring to his memoirs – that it’s ‘Solely he who is aware of no concern’ who can restore the sword. When Siegfried returns he discover Mime sheltering within the bathtub and offers him some medication. Rasp and splinters are heard talked about however there isn’t any forging and Siegfried turns right into a considerably hyperactive pyromaniac and units gentle to his childhood by burning what regarded like previous diaries, a cuddly monkey, a London bus, a airplane, and varied different previous toys. Siegfried even lights one other cigarette with the flames earlier than extinguishing them. Wielding a mallet Siegfried destroys as a lot of his childhood reminiscences as he can earlier than setting off with Mime and his thermos of poisoned soup.

From Act II to the top of the opera you’re going to get to marvel within the marvel of Tcherniakov’s rotating set with its ever-changing rooms. We see a small signal for a check room with ‘Beginn des Experiments in 30 Minuten’. Alberich (dressed like Mime) enters the convention room (seen in Rheingold) supporting himself on his walker and isn’t properly and depends on his inhaler. He attracts out from his briefcase the agreements he believes limits what the Wanderer can do. The bickering Siegfried and Mime emerge from one of many lifts and roam via the analysis centre. One other signal says ‘Entspannung Waldweben’ (Leisure Forest Murmurs). A lot of phases are displayed starting with the primary one ‘Leisure’, others embody ‘Making contact with internal self’, ‘Confrontation with battle’ and ‘Realisation of an unconscious want’. The Woodbird is a lab assistant with a toy chook with remote-controlled fluttering wings. Siegfried is proven pictures of musical devices and one in every of them is a pipe. Fafner is available in restrained in a straitjacket with the Wanderer watching from the higher stage earlier than there’s an oddly messy battle and Schager’s apparent battle to get half a sword out of Siegfried’s backpack. Mime’s nervous tics go into overdrive within the confrontation with Alberich. Siegfried having discovered the ring and the Tarnhelm (the cap of electrodes) punishes Mime’s duplicity by slitting his throat earlier than leaping away with the Woodbird via the completely different rooms and previous the Norns and the Wanderer.

Act III begins with the Norns going via recordsdata within the workplace of Wotan/Wanderer whereas there seems to be a case convention occurring subsequent door which the Wanderer angrily clears out. The passing years haven’t handled Erda properly and in her gentle blue go well with she appears to be like like Anne Widdecombe (a former UK politician). Tcherniakov is clearly impressed by strains like ‘Inform me how the god could grasp his nervousness?’ and Wotan and Erda tussle. Siegfried arrives and stops on his journey to Brünnhilde for a sandwich and a few water from his backpack. Laughing and chewing (which Tcherniakov has him do always) he dismisses the Wanderer who loses the plot however discovers a spear in a cabinet which he breaks himself. There may be extra dashing via the rooms and many emptying of drawers filled with recordsdata earlier than Siegfried reaches the ‘Sleep laboratory’. The Wanderer was proven there with Brünnhilde who drew flames on the home windows and Grane appears to be like like a small piñata. Brünnhilde and the Wanderer hug earlier than she will get lined up with a shiny silver sheet on a therapy desk. When Siegfried pulls it off he goes crazier than ever on the website of a girl. Siegfried and Brünnhilde circle round on stools with wheels earlier than they embrace and kiss. Notably, there was quite a lot of finger pointing and feigning shock as if each are going via the motions of some anticipated responses to their given scenario. The opera ends with Brünnhilde and Siegfried by the tree within the lobby of the analysis centre (E.S.C.H.E.).

It was a fantastically crafted Siegfried from Christian Thielemann and the Staatskapelle Berlin and the standard of their efficiency was as I described in my evaluation of Die Walküre. There was a cinema high quality to the heavy make-up for Michael Volle (Wanderer), Stephan Rügamer (Mime), Johannes Martin Kränzle (Alberich), Peter Rose (Fafner) and Anna Kissjudit (Erda). Their all-round vocal excellence was matched by their marvellous dramatic expertise and the readability they delivered to the textual content which gave what they did a conversational naturalness uncommon in opera. This prolonged to Anja Kampe’s Brünnhilde who was in whole command of her position and – with Thielemann’s help – was in a position to impress together with her lyrical radiance. Additionally, Victoria Randem sang the Woodbird with disarming appeal.

Andreas Schager at all times appears as revered in Germany as in Austria the place he comes from. I should be circumspect in what I write as a result of I used to be not within the opera home, however I wasn’t impressed and have heard Siegfried sung a lot better over many a long time. I realise that the arms in his pockets’ insouciance, in addition to the overweening conceitedness he confirmed is because of Tcherniakov however Schager’s singing had energy however little vocal attract, and he sounded as if he was reaching for his high notes.

Jim Pritchard



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