Die Walkure

Walküre above a pub

Act 1, Die Walküre, Rosemary Branch Theatre

Act 1, Die Walküre, Rosemary Branch Theatre (excuse the ropey iPhone picture!)

Off to the Rosemary Branch Theatre this afternoon for a couple of hefty chunks of Wagner’s Die Walküre, and rather fantastic it was too.

The New London Opera Players are at the venue performing two shows: this cut-down version of Die Walküre (Act 1 and the close of Act 3) and CarMen, an all-male version of Bizet’s sunny romp. Walküre was a very successful undertaking. The Rosemary Branch is small, probably even by ‘theatre-above-pub’ standards, and so big Wagner voices make a heck of a noise, but it was wonderful to revel in the sonic power at close quarters, and all performers were well able to shade and shape their performance even in this constricted space.  (more…)

Half a Ring at the Proms

There’s relatively little I can add to the general chorus of celebration surrounding the Ring Cycle led by Daniel Barenboim at the Proms last week.  Essentially, all the superlatives have been taken, and there are none left for me at this point. Some brief observations, then… (more…)

22 May 2013

A 32-piece Brass Band fighting against the wind to perform Vitali Bujanowski’s arrangements of Ring themes for brass instruments

A 32-piece Brass Band fighting against the wind to perform Vitali Bujanowski’s arrangements of Ring themes for brass instruments

A suitably festive atmosphere pervaded the foyer areas of the Royal Festival Hall on 22 May 2013, the focus of the year’s Wagner bicentenary events.  A brass band provided Ring extracts, Opera Forge performed bits of Walküre and Rheingold (well, the bits I heard anyway), and from the balcony above the bar we were summoned to the auditorium by Wagnerian fanfares, Bayreuth-like. (more…)

Der »Knick-Knacks« des Nibelungen

I’ve waited until the end of the entire first Cycle before compiling jottings on the Royal Opera’s revival of Der Ring des Nibelungen in Keith Warner’s fussy, random, distracting collection of bits’n’pieces. What you might call a Gesamtkunstwerk of jottings. I see it again for the third cycle and might give it the blow-by-blow treatment then. (more…)

Opera North: Die Walküre at Symphony Hall

Symphony Hall, Birmingham celebrating its 21st

Symphony Hall, Birmingham, celebrating its 21st

The journey from Croydon up to Birmingham and back just about exceeds the running time of Die Walküre, by the time one and a half hours of intervals have been added in. However, it was worth the trip for a great night at Symphony Hall, where Opera North’s forces put on a top notch performance of this most engaging of the operas of Der Ring des Nibelungen.

The concert approach, which has been toured to Leeds and Gateshead and arrives at Manchester/Salford on 14 July, included large projection screens above the orchestra, which had atmospheric stills and animations as well as the surtitles. The animations weren’t too ambitious, and whilst that meant that they were not therefore too intrusive, there were also a number of opportunities missed to heighten the drama. The changing lighting was perhaps a greater contributor to atmosphere than were the projections, bringing back memories of the excellent ENO semi-staged Ring performances. It was good that the surtitles ‘followed’ the singer’s position (roughly) and the small snippets of back-story and narrative update helped keep us engaged (if that was needed…) (more…)

Where’d he go??

Oh, dear.  A bit of a bloggin’ disaster.  Moving house got me out of the habit, out of the frame of mind, and out of the path of a computer for rather too long.  I do apologise, and especially to the two people who were kind enough to trouble themselves with comments on previous blogposts, which then sat in unloved cyberspace for two months.  Tsk tsk, not good enough. (more…)

The Met Live in HD: Die Walküre

This wasn’t a cinema; it was a ‘screening lounge’.  The Everyman Cinema, Hampstead (well, Belsize Park anyway) is a rather luxurious affair.  Hugely wide lounge chairs, acres of legroom, and drinks service in intervals.  In some ways perfect for 5 hours of Wagner, except I can’t quite adjust to lying back and having the opera brought up close to me.  Somehow I miss leaning on a balcony ledge peering down at it.  That may be to do with the rather artificial soundstage of the Met transmission, of which more anon. (more…)