An opera about people. When the Mariinsky Theatre decided, at the start of the twentieth century, to stage Russia’s first production of Richard Wagner’s tetralogy Der Ring des Nibelungen, the theatre’s principal conductor Eduard N.pravn.k suggested they start with what he considered the most interesting of the operas, Die Walküre. This was an obvious choice for a man raised on Russian realist art and the Russian writers of the natural school. Die Walküre’s mythological story revolves around mortal characters, and, if we count the fate of the god Wotan, the three fates represented in the opera possess recognisably lifelike forms. Siegmund and Sieglinde enter into a conjugal union in defiance of custom and tradition, Wotan rejects his children, and Bruünnhilde rebels against her father’s will. Several age-old themes are embodied in these fates: the clash between man and woman, between father and child – and in both cases, Wagner presents these as dramas of love – while the rift between gods and heroes takes the form of a metaphysical confrontation. The eminent German musicologist Carl Dahlhaus thought of Die Walku?re as the story of Wotan: the god who does not want to remain a god, preferring liberty to the law, but the price he must pay is to become ‘free of soul’, as Wagner expressed it, and in his final scene he bids the earthly world farewell. Yet Die Walküre remains a lyrical story, a drama about humans; it comes as no surprise that the opera is named after the god’s self-sacrificing daughter, who is stripped of immortality. Not only the mortal characters but also the very spirit of the opera are summed up by Boris Pasternak: “It is man’s first settlement in those worlds discovered by Wagner for fantasies and mastodons”1. Perhaps the poet had in mind Das Rheingold as the prologue to the Ring.
Total time: 03:56:36
|Original Recording Format|
Jonathan Stokes, Neil Hutchinson, Vladimir Ryabenko
Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg, Russia
|Recording Type & Bit Rate|
|Release Date||October 28, 2016|
The Mariinsky label begins its projected Ring cycle with a very impressive recording of ‘Die Walküre’ from Valery Gergiev and his Mariinsky forces.
Gergiev has managed to engage a cast of a caliber that few, if any, opera houses in the world could bring together let alone afford to engage. There is no doubt that this is thanks to the generous financial support of Yoko Nagae Ceschina the Japanese philanthropist who supports musical endeavors and institutions worldwide (including the New York Philharmonic Orchestra) and it has certainly paid off on this recording.
Four of the opera’s six main roles are taken by some of the most sought after Wagner singers of the current generation – Jonas Kaufmann (Siegmund), Nina Stemme (Brünnhilde), René Pape (Wotan) and Anja Kampe (Sieglinde) . In addition to the excellent eight Valkyries, Russian singers are represented by Mikhail Petrenko (Hunding) and Ekaterina Gubanova (Fricka) – both of whom are establishing international careers outside of the Mariinsky company.
The recording made in the Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg is generally well balanced with a good sense of depth. The 5.0 Multichannel DSD tracks not only convey extra hall ambience, but in the opening scene of Act III (‘Ride of the Valkyries’) the surround speakers are used to place the listener amidst the warrior maidens to startling effect.
This is a most auspicious start to the Mariinsky Ring cycle on disc – and one that all Wagnerites will wish to investigate. It certainly presents a formidable challenge for any future competitor to match. We shall have to wait until September for ‘Das Rheingold’ and 2014 for the remainder of this cycle to appear. Performance: 4.5 Stars, Multichannel Sonics: 4 Stars”.
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