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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
The third opera of the Ring, or second if you call Rheingold a prelude.
Wagner took a break from the Ring after Act 2 here to compose a couple of "smaller" operas that could be more easily performed. Meistersinger and Tristan and Isolde !!!

It is less performed than Walkure, but no less magnificent with the forging of the sword, the interaction between Siegfried and Mime, the dragon fight, the woodbird scenes and Brunhilde's awakening and love duet,

The role of Siegfried requires great stamina and is one of the most challenging in all of opera.
I love this opera and listen to it and Rheingold the most
of the Ring cycle.

So what is your pick/picks for this magnificent music drama?
 
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This is actually my favorite RING opera, so I have a lot of favorites. The title role is key, obviously, and a lot of recordings have been ruined by poor Siegfrieds.

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On balance, probably the best cast, and the sound is excellent. Adam isn't my favorite Wanderer, but Cox is excellent and Wohlfahrt even better than he was for Bohm.

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It's in English, and even so, not every word is intelligible. But Remedios is the best Siegfried on record since Melchior, and Bailey and Hunter are terrific.

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The best of the mid-50's Bayreuth performances, in excellent sound, and Windgassen doesn't screw up the forging scene as he did in 1953. But I hate Paul Kuen's Mime, for all the wrong reasons - he can't seem to sing any of the notes that Wagner actually wrote.

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This is the best part of Janowski's RING. I'm not generally a Kollo fan, but this strikes me as his best performance on record, of anything.

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Of course, there's no one like Melchior, Flagstad, or Schorr. The sound, though, is a challenge, as are the cuts.

Others I like are Solti (despite Stolze's caterwauling), Karajan (Stolze's better here, but Jess Thomas struggles a bit with the title role), and Barenboim with Siegfried Jerusalem. I love the first act of Haitink's EMI recording, but the rest is pretty atrocious.

Jaap van Zweden's recording is coming out soon, so I'll be curious to hear how Simon O'Neill copes with the title role.
 

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I am a bit of a loner in liking Karajan's Siegfried. Jess Thomas sounds younger and less of a fascist youth that some performers. Stoltze is a bit of a pain (was there ever so ungrateful role) so skip to the final duet on the mountain which is radiant.

Janowski is very good but Altmeyer is a bit stretched .

Solti's problem is Stoltze and Hotter in Act 1. Painful to listen to
 

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I am a bit of a loner in liking Karajan's Siegfried. Jess Thomas sounds younger and less of a fascist youth that some performers. Stoltze is a bit of a pain (was there ever so ungrateful role) so skip to the final duet on the mountain which is radiant.

Janowski is very good but Altmeyer is a bit stretched .

Solti's problem is Stoltze and Hotter in Act 1. Painful to listen to
You are not entirely alone DavidA. I like Karajan's Siegfried too. In fact I'm rather fond of Karajan's entire Ring cycle although my preference is for my live version from the Salzburg festival recorded between 1968 and 1970. Karajan in the theatre is a very different creature from the one in the studio. I agree about Jess Thomas but Gerhard Stolze is not the trial to me that he seems to be for others. I rather enjoy his idiosyncratic way with Mime. He is a fabulous Herod in Solti's Salome.
 

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Re post #2 - I totally agree with you about Paul Kuen. He does seem to have a very haphazard approach to singing what's written in the score. Why the conductor lets him get away with it is beyond me.
 

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I like Karajan's Siegfried too. I agree about Jess Thomas but Gerhard Stolze is not the trial to me that he seems to be for others. I rather enjoy is idiosyncratic way with Mime.
Stolze's only a problem for me on the Solti recording. IIRC, he was recovering from a serious illness and overacted to compensate for diminished vocal stamina, and Solti didn't rein him in the way that Karajan seems to have.

He's certainly better than Paul Kuen....
 

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Stolze's only a problem for me on the Solti recording. IIRC, he was recovering from a serious illness and overacted to compensate for diminished vocal stamina, and Solti didn't rein him in the way that Karajan seems to have.

He's certainly better than Paul Kuen....
I think I might even be better than Paul Kuen, at least with regard to singing what was on the page!:lol:
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
I love this opera! :)



My overall choice is the Solti for the glorious sound and the Vienna Phil.
Hotter may be past his prime but he's still an imposing Wanderer.
Stolze is a bit harsh sometimes, but we cant have everything.
And Nilsson is an excellent Brunhilde. And Windgassen is a heroic Siegfried.
The WP play like Gods and the sound is still amazing.



I also enjoy this Barenboim set. Good strong cast. Evans is a little light but good in the part. Tomlinson in good voice.
The orchestral playing is glorious and the DDD recording is too.
 

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My favorite Brunnhilde, with one of my favorite young Siegfrieds--I like a tenorial Siegfried, especially for this opera, more baritonal Siegfrieds like Melchior may sound more heroic but I don't think they convey the youthful idiocy as well. Wohlfahrt is one of the better Mime's, far better than the likes of Stolze and Kuen. I think Adam's more human dimensions work well for the Wanderer.

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Svanholm is another great young Siegfried, although caught a little late in his career, and he tires audibly by the end. My second favorite Brunnhilde in Flagstad. For some reason, the Wanderer is Josef Hermann instead of Ferdinand Frantz, who had performed Wotan in the first two operas, and Hermann is pleasant but overparted for the role. The Scala band seems to get better and better each opera, as if they're getting more in sync with Furtwangler throughout this cycle.
 

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53 Krauss - this marks the assembly of the classic 50s Bayreuth cast with debut season of Windgassen and 2nd season for Hotter (Varnay goes back to 51 opening) with both singers giving extremely impressive showings, Windgassen in freshest most lyrical voice gives a vivid characterization that seems more effortless than latter recordings and Hotter is just amazing for the next 5 years as Wotan/wanderer. I am a fan of Astrid and find her singing thrilling dramatic and colorful, able to bring emotional content to her character more than others......

The Pristine XR remaster is a must have with noticeably better sound than any other CD recording of this available, it is very close call with the 55 Testament stereo Siegfried also excellent with nearly same cast......but Krauss has one of the fastest times while not seeming rushed at all, and I think there is a touch more wonder and excitement here with Bayeuth still new and getting off the ground, assembling the greatest wagner singers in the world has to raise the bar for all involved



FYI - Krauss has Itullian's fav woodbird - Rita Streich

 

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Wagner Challenge update - Favourite STEREO Siegfried



Wagner
SIEGFRIED WWV 86C Live recording
René Kollo
Heinz Zednik
Donald McIntyre
Zoltán Kelemen
Bengt Rundgren
Hanna Schwarz
Yoko Kawaahara
Gwyneth Jones

Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele
Pierre Boulez
Operadepot (1976/2012 Issue Edition)




Wagner
SIEGFRIED WWV 86C Live recording
Wolfgang Windgassen
Erwin Wohlfahrt
Theo Adam
Gustav Neidlinger
Kurt Böhme
Vera Soukupova
Erika Köth
Birgit Nilsson

Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele
Karl Böhm
Decca (1966/2013 Remastered Edition)


This difficult opera has a share of victims and, for geing the third of four chapters in the Ring des Nibelungen, can already tell if a complete ring is working out or not. And now -only- four editions can be discarded. To the controversial and mild modern accounts by Haitink and Simone Young, I have to add two fan favourites: Barenboim and Solti! Barenboim up to this point has never featured in the top five, despite a very good sound. The cast does not make me feel it. This is a waste of Tomlinson and Jerusalem. And Solti losing as the 9th out of 10 Siegfrieds is appaling. I really disliked Stolze's Mime, not counting the terrible dynamics and an uneven Windgassen who, like René Kollo, cannot feel the Siegfried character in studio the way they do onstage. Despite my confliting thoughts on Nilsson, I prefer her Böhm Brünnhilde way more than the insipid Solti recording.

As the second best recording in stereo of Siegfried, Böhm clearly wins against Karajan. This time the trend of progressively intense performances reverts and instead we have thrilling Acts I and II. The casting is a great surprise, for the best Mime and arguably best Siegfried: Wohlfahrt & Windgassen. They own the roles and deliver their best in Act I. Adam is in great voice shape as the Wanderer too. Then Nilsson, despite the great performance she does, has a voice a bit too sharp for my taste. It falls behind Altmeyer, Dernesch and Jones as the 2nd Brünnhilde.

I don't know what else to say about the Bayreuth 76 centenary cycle. Boulez is again the winner with not such a clean conducting but a title character that lives in the Wagner world: René Kollo. It's not that he has better voice than in 1981, but the intensity of his three acts is incredible. Never shouty, staying tuneful. Zednik is a dwarf Mime, exactly the same you'll see in the film. After a mild 2nd Wotan, McIntyre shows off as the Wanderer in a great final performance. Kollo makes it through the forging song with some nervousness (the film shows maybe a too much action for him) but the ending is stellar. In Act II, Kelemen's Alberich is the star while Rundgren's Fafner is fine. Act III with Schwarz's Erda stands up, and Jones never disappoints as Brünnhilde, though the first "Heil dir, Sonne!" is too loud for a valkyrie who is just waking up. The final duet is perfect, spotless. As a quick comment on the sound, I should say it is no better than the two previous installments but it's maybe too thin, but nice in the sharp notes. There is a whistle sound after the first horn playing by Siegfried in Act II, coming from the audience. In this recording, the massive booing will be heard after Act I, and after Act II and III almost only applauses. Only one opera to finish this excellent ring.

Honourable mentions:



3. Karajan BPO: Between ecstatic and plain slow. This is a Siegfried to hear for Stolze's mature Mime, Ridderbusch's elegantly spooky Fafner, Dernesch's spotless Brünnhilde and Karajan's solemn conducting. The sound is gorgeous. Thomas and Stewart as grandson and grandpa are quite fine. Thomas' Siegfried is way more confortable in Act II, but apart from that, he never excites. The killing of the dragon is more solemn than epic and it's excellent. I don't love it or hate it either, but it's worth owning.
4. Keilberth BFO 55 (YT source): Only the sound, even being incredible for 1955, and the departure, but not quite so, from the solemn Keilberth style, earns this excellent recording the fourth position instead of the second. Windgassen is not really improved ten years from 1966. They are more or less the Same Siegfrieds but Böhm takes way much more from the characters than Keilberth, too focused on highlighting the majestic Hotter as Wanderer (by the way, he reminds me a lot of Hans Sotin). This performance features a "human" Mime instead of a dwarf, you notice this both here and in Thielemann 2008. All my praise for this concept. Finally, the orchestra interlude between Scenes 2 and 3 of Act III are the best I remember from this opera. Sheer strings. But how many times do I need to tell that I don't like Astrid Varnay?! This could ruin half of the 50s rings for me.
5. Thielemann BFO 2008: The revelation of the Siegfrieds, as well as his Rheingold. The sound ambience is excellent and squashes Barenboim. While Mime, Siegfried and the Wanderer are very good (Siegel, Gould and Dohmen), Brünnhilde (Watson) and Fafner (König) are fine. Pretty enjoyable recording for the 21st century.
6. Janowski SKD: Quite solemn as Keilberth, with the best soundscape after Karajan. It's good but plateau. There's no drama or child's play. Kollo doesn't deliver what I expected but his voice shape is good, delicate enough for a young Siegfried. Adam's late Wanderer is surprisingly fine, in the level of his first Böhm recording and Schreier as Mime is quite good. Altmeyer does not perform her best but this is fair to her voice abilities.

In this opera with relatively little cast, I've enjoyed more or less three recordings. The third of them is the Karajan, which I still don't know if it deserves to be considered here a winner or not. His studio cycle is not far from Böhm and Götterdämmerung will decide the second cycle in chief. That is the only interesting part, because I must grant the Boulez 76 broadcast as the winner with three straight victories so far. How good could the 71 and 77 Rings be?

Janowski in Dresden can be considered the best choice for a beginner Ring. The sound is excellent and the cast is the best that could be assembled in not such a bad singing year as many of you say.

Only Götterdämmerung left. Then Parsifal and a small Bruckner challenge to end the year.
 

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Granate, have you heard Karajan's live Salzburg Ring? Not all done in one year but in instalments between 1968 and 1970. You'll find the relevant recordings on Opera Depot. Karajan is much better live than in the studio so it's worth a listen.
 

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In the early 1980s Alberto Remedios song his first (?) German language Siegfried at Covent Garden with Colin Davis, Donald McIntyre as the Wanderer and Berit Lindholm as Brünnhilde. There exists a short video of him rehearsing but it would be great if somewhere there exists a complete recording of it.

 
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