Wagner: Siegfried

Peter McCallum
Sydney Morning Herald (Australia)

Siegfried forges the sword, slays the dragon, kills his stepfather, defies Wotan and walks through fire to find Brünnhilde, only to be confronted, when he gets there, with what looks like a knight in shining armour.
At first he seems to quite like the idea but, after removing the helmet and breastplate with his trusty sword, with rapier-like insight he cuts straight to the quick. Rising suggestively to a top F sharp, he proclaims, “Das is kein Mann! [That is no man!].” Brünnhilde, quick to see what she has landed, covers for him apologetically – “What you don’t know, I will know for you” – which, by the end of the third act, is quite a lot, including foreknowledge of the complete downfall of the gods. With her brains and her looks, they will go a long way.

This is the third release from the Adelaide 2004 Ring Cycle, and although the longest opera yet, it also has the most overall polish. In the live performance from which this recording is taken, Canadian tenor Gary Rideout stepped in at the last minute ... On the recording, Rideout’s voice emerges with a rewarding nutty richness that brings depth and colour to a role so often overtaken by the wearing steely projection and stamina that the part demands …

Richard Greager, as the obsequious Mime, manages a brilliant balance of humorous character-singing and potency, maintaining enough edge and precision to remind us of Mime’s malevolence.

One of Wagner’s masterstrokes in turning this from a boys’–toys story to something psychologically complex was to weave the now-resigned character of Wotan into the three acts, and John Bröcheler, as Wotan the wanderer, has some of his strongest moments of the Cycle, bringing grained depth while maintaining focus.