Götterdämmerung in Klagenfurt

Götterdämmerung in Klagenfurt was a rarity: a Wagner production in a German-speaking country which had no Regiekonzept. There was nothing in Aron Stiehl’s staging and the designs of Okarina Peter and Timo Dentler to shock traditionalists, nor even to communicate political, social or environmental messages. Instead, they stayed remarkably faithful to the original, concentrating on relationships between the characters, their human emotions, and their battles, whether for power or to see the world restored to its natural order. As such, the performance both dramatically and musically focussed on narrative. A newcomer to the Ring would have had no difficulty in following the story, the successive scenes being played out with exemplary clarity. And that applied also to the conducting of Klagenfurt’s Australian Music Director Nicholas Milton. This was not a performance which wallowed in Wagner’s magisterial score, or even dazzled the listener with it. Nevertheless, every orchestral facet was in place and the leitmotifs underpinned, as they should do, the drama; in short, the music drove the narrative.

The principal singers were of top quality. Katherine Broderick, the British Brünnhilde, had been unable to sing some performances in the run and she obviously had not fully recovered from indisposition, but this was still a gutsy, well-characterised rendering of one of the most demanding of operatic roles. James Kee was a great discovery as Siegfried. Although, perhaps, a little short on lyricism in his Act Three scene with the Rhinemaidens, his strong, penetrating tenor met all the other demands of the part and physically he played a humorous, laid-back, agile hero. The Finnish Hagen, Sami Luttinen deployed his appropriately massive bass to good effect and was a thoughtful, rather than malicious, villain. Marian Pop had more beef in his baritone than most Gunthers and, unusually he enriched the role with a genuinely moving compassion for Siegfried when he realised that the game was up. 

A straightforward presentation of Götterdämmerung, then, to describe; and none the worst for it.