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Thread: Melbourne Ring

  1. #1
    Senior Member Oreb's Avatar
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    Default Melbourne Ring

    So, I've just spent a bit over a week in Melbourne for the first cycle of the new Opera Australia Ring. Verdict: under-whelming, despite some good - and a few stellar - aspects. And as most of us know, an under-whelming Ring is, of all things, a failure.

    Let's start with the stellar.

    Deborah Humble as Erda and Waltraute was magnificent, bringing sibyllic gravitas to the former and a barely contained despairing fury to the latter with a gloriously rich voice.

    Warwick Fyfe as Alberich. Always wonderful to hear this role sung rather than declaimed, and Warwick brought out every ounce of character and music from the part. This was a wonderful performance.

    Miriam Gordon-Stewart was a beautiful, heart-breaking Sieglinde. Her salute to Brunnhilde was satisfyingly stunning.

    Now the very good:

    Stefan Vinke was thrilling as Siegfried, particularly in the third opera. Unfortunately his characterisation didn't grow - Siegfried stayed young and dumb throughout.

    The conductor, Pietari Inkinen, did a marvellous job. His tempi were measured (the way I like them) but to me felt appropriate throughout. The greatest ovations were given to him and the orchestra. Personally I thought the orchestra was a bit under-rehearesed. The brass particular were patchy.

    The rest of the cast were good to OK. Exceptions:

    Terje Stensvold's Wotan was an audience favourite, but I wasn't impressed by him. Sadly, he's just too old to do Rheingold convincingly and his voice lacks, for me, the requisite nobility for this most profound role.

    Susan Bullock as Brunnhilde just didn't seem up to the role. Her upper notes too often deteriorated into yelps and he acting was trite.

    I won't waste time describing the production. It was lazy and cliched. Moments of inspiration (act 1 of Die Walkure, act 2 of Siegfried both remarkable) were rare.

    Plenty of links to photos via the always excellent Wagnerian site:

    http://www.the-wagnerian.com
    Last edited by Oreb; Nov-27-2013 at 00:16.

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    Senior Member Cavaradossi's Avatar
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    Thanks for the review Oreb. Glad you found some bright spots. How was Stuart Skelton's Siegmund? He's been on my radar since he passed thru Chicago in 2012 and sang the heck out of Das Lied von der Erde with the CSO.

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    Senior Member ahammel's Avatar
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    What in the world is meant to be going on in that second picture? Siegfried and Mime?

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    Senior Member Oreb's Avatar
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    No - the second picture is Hagen's watch. Pretty effective scene, actually.

    Stuart Skelton is someone I should have mentioned as outstanding. A wonderful Siegmund.

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    Thank you for the review.
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

    "Life's a long song, but the tune ends too soon for us all." Ian Anderson lyric

    "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." Hamlet

    "Man does not live by bread alone......"

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    Senior Member Oreb's Avatar
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    My pleasure!

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    Senior Member Couac Addict's Avatar
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    I had a feeling Gordon-Stewart would do a decent job as the Germans have been fawning over her in recent years...and they can be quite fussy when it comes to The Ring.
    ...sounds like Skelton showed why he's never short of work.

    ...a bunch of videos here http://www.youtube.com/user/Limeligh...?feature=watch
    Last edited by Couac Addict; Nov-28-2013 at 01:13.
    This space for rent.

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    Senior Member Couchie's Avatar
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    Where there any kangaroos in the production?
    Doch dieses Wörtlein: und, -wär' es zerstört,
    wie anders als mit Isoldes eignem Leben wär' Tristan der Tod gegeben?

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    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    There was a fairly prominent musician here who did an article saying the Melbourne Ring is an epic waste of money. He kind of predicted it would be mediocre, at least compared to the real deal at Bayreuth.

    I am also now re-reading Peter Sculthorpe's autobiography, Sun Music (publ. 1999) and in it he wrote that in terms of the overall budget, spending on opera here is the biggest part of the classical music pie. I don't know if this is still the case, but I think this carving up of the pie in favour of opera is grossly unfair, given the audiences for opera are minimal compared to other things - even chamber if we cound the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Not to speak of orchestral. Another thing is that things in terms of the arts budget are getting very tight here, classical outfits are just making it on the smell of an oily rag already.

    I went to a couple of public lectures on Wagner this year and listened to some radio programs about him. In one someone said that the only way to give Wagner justice (outside of the purpose built venue of Bayreuth) is to do concert (not staged) performances. That's what they did in London, I believe. Leaves everything up to the imagination and yes, you got to get things like the cast's voices right, acting good or bad doesn't cover the actual music.

    You also don't have things that look less like the pantheon of the Gods collapsing and more like cardboard cut outs from some low budget film done by Ed Wood or some such. But I know you did not focus on discussing the look (sets, costumes) of this performance.
    Last edited by Sid James; Nov-28-2013 at 05:10.
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    Senior Member Oreb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Couchie View Post
    Where there any kangaroos in the production?
    Ha ha. Do you have Dudley Doright in yours?

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    Senior Member Oreb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sid James View Post
    There was a fairly prominent musician here who did an article saying the Melbourne Ring is an epic waste of money. He kind of predicted it would be mediocre, at least compared to the real deal at Bayreuth.
    I didn't see that article, but if he actually said that Bayreuth is the real deal he's about 40 years out of date.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid James View Post
    I am also now re-reading Peter Sculthorpe's autobiography, Sun Music (publ. 1999) and in it he wrote that in terms of the overall budget, spending on opera here is the biggest part of the classical music pie. I don't know if this is still the case, but I think this carving up of the pie in favour of opera is grossly unfair, given the audiences for opera are minimal compared to other things - even chamber if we cound the Australian Chamber Orchestra. Not to speak of orchestral. Another thing is that things in terms of the arts budget are getting very tight here, classical outfits are just making it on the smell of an oily rag already.
    I have enormous respect for Sculthorpe and love much of his music, but I think that he's being a bit simplistic. Case in point: for all its flaws, the Melbourne Ring was sold out within two days, and tickets weren't cheap: many people (like me) got seats by donating money to OA a year before. I don't believe for a minute that orchestral or chamber music would garner that degree of public support and enthusiasm.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sid James View Post
    In one someone said that the only way to give Wagner justice (outside of the purpose built venue of Bayreuth) is to do concert (not staged) performances. That's what they did in London, I believe. Leaves everything up to the imagination and yes, you got to get things like the cast's voices right, acting good or bad doesn't cover the actual music.
    I must admit to having a lot of sympathy for that view, with the exception of the Bayreuth bit. Given the monstrosity they appear to have unleashed this year I simply don't believe the Wagner family or the festival they run deserves any privileging.

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    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oreb View Post
    I didn't see that article, but if he actually said that Bayreuth is the real deal he's about 40 years out of date.
    Well I didn't make a thread about this, I thought just leave this year for celebrating Wagner. In any case, its about local concerns regarding Australia rather than about the celebrations across the world.

    I have enormous respect for Sculthorpe and love much of his music, but I think that he's being a bit simplistic. Case in point: for all its flaws, the Melbourne Ring was sold out within two days, and tickets weren't cheap: many people (like me) got seats by donating money to OA a year before. I don't believe for a minute that orchestral or chamber music would garner that degree of public support and enthusiasm.
    Well it was a one off special event, these things don't come often. In the case of other classical genres, they are different since they are more popular but on the long term rather than a centenary which is a one off. There where similar things done during Walton's centenary, and I think Messiaen's here too, but not with such a high profile. Sydney also had the Mahler cycle between 2010 and 2011.

    I must admit to having a lot of sympathy for that view, with the exception of the Bayreuth bit. Given the monstrosity they appear to have unleashed this year I simply don't believe the Wagner family or the festival they run deserves any privileging.
    I am not the biggest fan of him but I did hear his music live in concert this year and I'm okay to do it like that. If its done well then you don't need theatrics, his music stands on its own two feet. However in terms of Bayreuth the argument that its the best venue makes sense since it was purpose built by the composer himself. That was the argument which I heard, but I am no Wagner expert by any means.
    Genuine ersatz classical listener since 1981.

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    Senior Member dgee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oreb View Post
    Ha ha. Do you have Dudley Doright in yours?
    Der Oilsands des Nibelungen

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    Senior Member Couchie's Avatar
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    *Die Ölsand der Nibelungen
    Doch dieses Wörtlein: und, -wär' es zerstört,
    wie anders als mit Isoldes eignem Leben wär' Tristan der Tod gegeben?

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    Senior Member Sid James's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Couchie View Post
    Where there any kangaroos in the production?
    "Come hither, Grane my steed" doesn't have the same ring to it as "Come over 'ere, Skippy" does it?

    (BTW I probably shouldn't have changed the subject of this thread to the funding of this and other operas in Oz - one of my posts on the impulsive side that I should have deleted! I aimed not to rain on the Wagner parade this year and now I have. Sorry).
    Genuine ersatz classical listener since 1981.

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