Wagner: Götterdämmerung

01/05/2008
Charles H. Parsons
American Record Guide (US)

So with this issue the complete Ring comes to a triumphant conclusion. Perhaps the real star here is Asher Fisch and the orchestra. In extraordinary recorded sound Fisch unleashes wave after wave, floods of broad, full, warm orchestral sound. Excitement piles on excitement as he brings out a maximum of passionate sweep in the music.

There is not a weak link in the extensive cast. From the beautifully matched voices of the Norns that begin the opera to the slyly communicative Rhinemaidens of the final act, the singers take on the depths of their dramatic roles, but sound lovely at the same time. Gasteen’s Brünnhilde is more than a mere mortal – a demi-goddess with human expressiveness. Her voice is well suited to the role, strong, color-filled, never flagging or slowing down through the long evening. Mussard is a real tenor, not baritone based. This gives his voice a brightness and youthfulness not usually heard in the role. He too has plenty of staying power.

Dal Monte ’s Hagen is a black-voiced, menacing fellow, lacing only a bit more power and volume. There is power and volume aplenty in Summers’ Gunther; he has more backbone than many a Gunther. Cole’s Gutrune is a worthy vocal sister to Summer’s Gunther. Waltraute’s visit to Brünnhilde is in the good hands and voice of Campbell. Wegner’s crafty, inky Alberich rounds out this exemplary cast.
 
So excellent a production is this Australian Götterdämmerung that the only quibble I can make is the inclusion of a “wolf whistle” from Siegfried when he first sees the Rhinemaidens in Act 3.
 
A libretto in German and English is included. It is the noteworthy translation by Andrew Porter – a singing translation, not a literal one. There are no stage directions in the libretto.