Stefan Vinke, in his SO debut in the title role, was actually a little hard to like at first. So hard, in fact, that I didn't realize it was by design until later. This boorish, ignorant young man, besotted by the hubris of youth, rattled along in quasi-parlando fashion at first, braying about his hatred for his guardian Mime (Dennis Petersen), the only other person he has ever known. As he brings The Bear (JC Casiano) onstage to bully the hapless dwarf in hilarious fashion, again there was a bit of schadenfreude in the laughter, making it all the more enjoyable. Why do we laugh so to see poor Mime tormented, wretch though he is, in Das Rheingold and now in this?
|Wagner’s Siegfried; Dennis Petersen (Mime).© Elise Bakketun photo|
The creeping sense of dread that accompanies Fafner's leitmotif returned in even stronger fashion as the second act opened...such a visceral, visually evocative sensation long before we ever see the dragon. Richard Paul Fink returned as Alberich and he and Grimsley engaged in a duet filled with believable tension and hatred as they spoke of their competing claims as to the outcome of Siegfried's coming confrontation with Fafner, though we are left wondering why the Wanderer is (seemingly) so unconcerned as to what happens if Alberich gains control of the Ring and makes good on his promise to storm Valhalla with the armies of Hella.
|Wagner’s Siegfried; Stefan Vinke (Siegfried) and Fafner. © Alan Alabastro photo|
|Wagner’s Siegfried; Lucille Beer (Erda), Greer Grimsley (Wotan).© Alan Alabastro photo|
Lori Phillips, no stranger to SO audiences, covered the role of Brünnhilde as Alwyn Mellor was ill. But as soon as she opened her mouth for 'Heil dir, Sonne!' it was clear that there would be nothing wanting from her vocal performance. The closing moments as Siegfried convinces the reluctant once-goddess that she must indeed love him as he does her are compelling; is she afraid in a sort of Oedipus-by-proxy complex as his aunt, or is it awakening to the newfound realities of her mortality that frightens her so? Phillips doesn't answer that, but the dawning reality of her love for Siegfried makes the question moot.