Die Walkuere

Opera Review by Willard Manus

Following on the heels of Das Rheingold, Los Angeles Opera recently continued with its bold, provocative investigation of Wagner's four-part Ring Cycle by mounting DIE WALKURE at the Music Center. Directed and designed by Achim Freyer (aided by his daughter Amanda), DIE WALKURE, like Rheingold, was visually stunning, thanks to the way the Freyers paint with color and light, employ front and rear projection, deck characters out in outrageous, trippy costumes, employ masks and puppets. The eye is constantly bedazzled as the opera unfolds (over a five-hour stretch!) and the stage becomes an abstract, mythological wonderland where mortal and immortal creatures battle each other, with much sturm und drang, over the way of the world, the meaning of life and death, the nature of good and evil.

The singers in a Freyer production must have powerful voices if they are to be noticed and heard. Fortunately, LA Opera assembled a stellar cast, led by its artistic director Placido Domingo, who sang Siegmunde in robust and commanding fashion. As his twin and lover, Anja Kampe more than held her own as Sieglinde.

Among the other outstanding singers were Vitalij Kowaljow as the tormented god Votan, Eric Halvarson as Hunding, and Linda Watson as Brunhilde.

With James Conlon conducting, Wagner's score was delivered with fluency and precision throughout the long but memorable evening.