Wagner: Die Walküre

Arnold Whittall
Gramophone (UK)

The first production of a complete Ring cycle in Australia, in November 2004, was by all accounts a thrilling occasion in the theatre and a remarkable achievement for the State Opera of South Australia, based in Adelaide … and there is much that is positive to report …

Asher Fisch reveals his extensive experience as a Wagner conductor in an account that … is well paced and effectively balanced between dramatic immediacy and longer-term formal goals.

As for the voices: the best known name here is that of Lisa Gasteen, Covent Garden’s current Brünnhilde, who displays particular power and beauty in the lower-lying passages of her encounter with Siegmund in Act 2. … The Volsung twins are an impressive pair, too. Stuart Skelton … has reserves of intensity which … are used to genuinely thrilling effect. Deborah Riedel is even finer, with a richness and radiance that brings to mind — not a comparison to be made lightly — Birgit Nilsson in her prime.
As a recording, then … it also has considerable virtues: it will certainly be good to hear other parts of the Adelaide Ring Cycle in due course.