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.
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.
other outstanding singers were Vitalij Kowaljow as the tormented god Votan,
Eric Halvarson as Hunding, and Linda Watson as Brunhilde.
Conlon conducting, Wagner's score was delivered with fluency and precision
throughout the long but memorable evening.