Top critical review
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NOT THAT GOOD - and quite a dissapointment
on 13 November 2009
There are three major faults with this production: The Robotic ballet, the Elisabeth part sung by Nylund, and the synthetic sound quality.
We agree that the set, staging, the costumes, the lighting, the staircase etc are quite pleasing tot he eye.
But this alone does not make an opera 'stand'.
We take issue with the notion that some expressed that the singing throughout is excellent, in particularly I take the notion here that Camilla Nylund is a well sung Elisabeth.
It is NOT.
Camilla Nylund is grossly misplaced here.
Although a young looking face the singer has, her voice sounds 'old', wasted, faded, and `bleached-off' - it lacks youth-tone as the roll of Elisabeth asks for.
Nylund voice in this setting is terrible wobbly and the top notes are white flat...Moreover:
We were sitting here five persons to watch and to listen: most of her registers are wobbly; her technique is to take all of the notes from under the pitch (something like the Russian old singing school). This sort of vocal behavior does not add to a Wagnerian voice's 'volume' at all. One has to listen to other signers that capture this roll to understand how Nylund's obsolete technique hinders her from getting it right. Especially painful is to listen to her opening aria "Dich, teure Halle". Listening to it one would admit that a great singer this Nylund is not.
This mediocre singing is very disturbing; one would wish she would simply go away.
Now to the 'held' tenor roll sung by Robert Gambill:
We all likeed him Very Much, a capable Wagnerian Held-tenor with great acting abilities, facial expression, and a figure (body-form) that is great for the stage, as well as his superb vocal expression. True, he gets tired after act two and the voice flexibility drops but when he comes back for the final act (after being refreshed in the pause-time) his voice is vigorous, focused and with great flexibility. (We also enjoyed his singing, his stage presence and acting as Sigmund in Die Walkure conducted by Rattle too)...
As for the rest of the singers they earned here top notch, especially Venus with Waltraud Meier:
Now this is a voice to recon with...A rare breed of a voice that easily crosses over between the Mezzo-soprano range and the soprano range (one should hear - and see her - on the Metropolitan Levine 25 anniversary where she singes the most difficult part of the Isolde narration, to appreciate what this singer's voice is all about.
We are, however, aware that she is nearing the end of her singing career as very occasionally that voice too begins to show singes of bleach-ness at the middle register and the highest notes are a bit truncated. Still - this is a minor observation (her acting is great, though...)
And mind you the reader: we are a group of five persons that spent years as singer's trainers, singers, musician and a previous prima-ballerina...This brings us to the first act what was supposed to be a ballet:
No one here could understand the logic or the artistic drive behind the chorography of the robot-like figures, and those figures encapsulated in a cocoon-form. It was quite boring and it serves no purpose, so why?
The interview with the chorographer does very little to broaden our understanding - it might well be just a case of his self-trip semi-consciousness that amounts to nothing with that `ballet' chorography.
In general: The interviews with the other participants of this production do not add much to the appreciation of the efforts they put into it. They add nothing to the `story'.
Well cleverly was the reaction of Waltraud Meier: She simply ignored the crew - went her way and just commented: I have been singing this roll some twenty years ago. (Compliments Mrs. Meier - when the questions are stupid, do not respond).
The cinematography is good and the stairs buid on the stage and the costumes are stupendous.
If it was not for Nylund (Elisabeth's roll), the ballet, and for the synthetic sound - the voting points given would have been quite higher.
As it is, someday another production with a higher singing value, better sound and more traditional-logically put ballet will come along.
As things are right now - this is a two star mark.