Siegfried - Mariinsky Opera - Royal Opera House, 31 July 2009
Perhaps I'm just suffering from PILES (Pap Induced Lowered Expectation Syndrome). But this Siegfried seemed not just the best of the Mariinsky's Ring bunch so far, but a creditable performance by any standards.
In most productions, the tenor in the title-role is a bit of a liability, but in this one he was the heroic saviour. Leonid Zakhozhaev wouldn't win any singing contests, but he hit the right notes often enough to convince he hasn't earned his place solely on his acting skillz - which were on a completely different plane to anyone else on stage. From grimaces to bum-wiggles, his performance was packed with little physical details that helped distract from the godawful scenery.
His solid, grainy lyric tenor is a size too small for the role, so he constantly pushed it, with varying unattractive effects on pitch and timbre. But his stamina was unflagging. Amazingly, he sang the last act more cleanly and brightly than the first, all while bounding about like Tigger.
His complete commitment and eagerness to reach out and please the audience transcended any vocal limitations. Most importantly, he didn't judge the character. He played Siegfried as an irritating brat, without ever being irritating himself - the hardest trick of all.
The classiest singing came from Evgeny Nikitin. Unlike most Wotans, he actually sang the part rather than bellowing it, and with nuance and structural appreciation too. Sadly his voice tired towards the end, and he'd clearly had next to zero direction or rehearsal.
Neither Nikolai Putilin as Alberich or Vasily Gorshkov as Mime offered quite such lovely singing, and their ghastly costumes limited them to gleeful-Hobbit characterisations. But both, Gorshkov in particular, milked every word for expressive effect - and proved that a wooden sword to the armpit (where was the director when they planned that one?) can deliver a mortal blow.
Brünnhilde proved a bit much for Olga Sergeyeva, with pitch and vibrato issues as her voice rose, and Anastasia Kalagina couldn't quite find the delicacy (or the very highest notes) as the Woodbird. But then she was hampered by a ridiculous doily costume extending up to cover her head.
The orchestra played well (if not entirely fluff-free) and Gergiev was able to sustain the momentum he found in the preludes. The policy of switching some players between acts seems to help - the orchestra is showing a stamina to equal Leonid Zakhozhaev's.
******** more photos over page ********
Evgeny Nikitin as Wotan/Wanderer:
Vasily Gorshkov as Mime:
Leonid Zakhozhaev as Siegfried, Zlata Bulycheva as Erda, Anastasia Kalagina as Woodbird:
Valery Gergiev as Himself, Leonid Zakhozhaev as Siegfried:
Anastasia Kalagina as Woodbird:
Zlata Bulycheva as Erda, Anastasia Kalagina as Woodbird:
Leonid Zakhozhaev as Siegfried:
the accused, flanked by his accomplices:
All photos by intermezzo.typepad.com - please credit if you use them