With Siegfried the Wermland Opera continue a very fine Ring Cycle. The sets for this opera were particularly well-chosen, with a beautiful forest and a suitably frightening dragon (see above). And again a very strong cast of soloists made this a special evening.
Jonas Durán seems to be made for the role of Mime. He couples a perceptive Gollum-like characterisation with an impressive voice in what is a demanding part. While Siegfried’s ingratitude to his surrogate father is painful to watch, Mime’s behaviour towards Siegfried is so cloying that you can forgive at least some irritation. The interplay between Mime and Siegfried is superb throughout, as is the confrontation of Mime and the Wanderer. His performance was rewarded with well-earned cheers.
Siegfried (Pär Lindskog) arrives on stage in a suitably brash fashion with a wild bear and proceeds to throw a tantrum because Mime cannot forge a sword strong enough for Siegfried’s enormous strength. As a character Siegfried is hardly sympathetic in Act I, as all his bad qualities are on display with little of his good qualities visible until later in the opera. Pär Lindskog was in his element as a stroppy teenager and didn’t try to mitigate the initial unattractiveness of his character. He also acted well when Siegfried displayed other sides of his character such as his regrets after the killing of Fafner and his nervousness when faced with Brünnhilde, the first woman he had ever met. However, in the last act it sometimes seemed that the nerves were more real than fictional, and he did sometimes slide up to his notes. That said, Mr Lindskog’s boyish voice was appropriate for the role and a good contrast with Jan Kyhle’s world-weary Siegmund.
Fredrik Zetterström continued his excellent representation of Wotan (this time disguised as the Wanderer), despite having woken up with a terrible cold that morning. Had the audience not been told this before the start of the opera we would have been none the wiser. His scenes with Erda (a moving portrayal by Maria Streijffert) and with Mime were particularly good. Alberich (Marcus Jupither) also returned and sparks flew when he confronted first the Wanderer then Mime.
Fafner (Johan Schinkler) lost none of his vocal powers despite having shape-shifted to become a dragon. If anything, his voice had an even more impressive boom coming from the depths of his cave. His death scene was also remarkably moving. Natalie Hernborg’s Forest Bird sang well and was a blessed peaceful visitor to the violent world of the Ring.
By far the deepest impression of the night was made by Brünnhilde (AnnLouice Lögdlund). From the very first note her singing was radiant, even on her highest notes. As in Walküre, her acting was sensitive and vividly portrayed Brünnhilde’s vulnerability as she is woken and realises she is becoming mortal. She brings warmth and humanity to her role, most of all in the thrilling final minutes of the opera as Brünnhilde casts aside her divinity and her fears to love Siegfried. The final lines were truly ecstatic.