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(l-r) Ain Anger as Hagen, Andreas Schager as Siegfried and Martin Gantner as Gunther in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Götterdämmerung, 2017
Photo: Michael Cooper
Canadian Opera Company closes out the Ring Cycle with a stunning Götterdammerung!
(l-r) Ain Anger as Hagen, Ileana Montalbetti as Gutrune, Andreas Schager as Siegfried and Martin Gantner as Gunther in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Götterdämmerung, 2017, photo: Michael Cooper
This was a performance in which each of the contributions added up to a drama that was far more impactful than the sum of its parts. It was a journey of monumental proportions that will stay in this reviewer’s memory for a very long time.
The four remaining performances of the Canadian Opera Company's Götterdammerung will take place at the Four Seasons Centre on February, 11, 14, 17 and 25.
(l-r) Robert Pomakov as Alberich and Ain Anger as Hagen in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Götterdämmerung, 2017, photo: Michael Cooper
Andreas Schager as Siegfried (left) with the Rhinemaidens (l-r: Lauren Eberwein as Wellgunde, Lindsay Ammann as Flosshilde and Danika Lorèn as Woglinde) in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Götterdämmerung, 2017
Photo: Michael Cooper
To command such forces would be formidable no matter what the music being performed. To perform the demanding music of Wagner and create both the powerful dramatic moments and the tender passages with equal conviction was miraculous. Debus was magnificent, bringing out all the drama in the music. Between scenes, the orchestra seamlessly carried the drama forward. The triumphant music at the end of the Prelude with Siegfried’s jubilant horn call metamorphorsed into a darker sombre sound of foreboding as the next scene began with Hagen and Gunther about to create their insidious plot. The orchestra itself needs to be celebrated for an impeccable performance.
Review by David Richards
Toronto ON February 9th 2017
Christine Goerke as Brünnhilde and Andreas Schager as Siegfried in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Götterdämmerung, 2017, photo: Michael Cooper
There are just four chances left this month to see Götterdammerung, the incredible final chapter to Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen. Götterdammerung, the longest of the four music dramas (don’t call them operas) in the Ring Cycle brings to an end this epic tale of greed, lust, power and love. The Canadian Opera Company has mounted a superb production with no compromises. Every aspect of the work contributes to a magnificent theatrical experience.
Last night at The Four Seasons Centre, the third of seven performances was gripping from start to finish. From the opening chord of the orchestra to the final curtain call, time evaporated. The audience was taken to the world of norns, gods, valkyries, rhinemaidens and mortals. All consciousness of time and reality disappeared.
The impressiveness of Götterdammerung begins with Wagner. His mythic tale of a magical ring that gives its bearer power over the entire world gives rise to the conflicts between good and evil that exist within all humans. The action moves continually back and forth between mythological characters and the drama of mortals with all of their faults. His use of such powerful music in this music drama has astounded audiences since it was first presented in 1876.
Sue Elliott of The Royal Conservatory of Music, in her pre-performance chat, spoke about some of the themes including power versus love, nature versus society, and divine myth versus heroic drama that are threaded throughout the work. Layered into these themes was the greed and lust for power of the demonic Hagen. It was very easy for him to convince a vulnerable Gunther and Gutrune to go along with his schemes. The use of the supernatural Norns, Valkerie and Rhinemaidens were the conscience and voices of warning.
The cast was world class! Each of the singers carried their roles with the utmost skill and dramatic force. Christine Goerke was spectacular as Brünnhilde. Her dramatic final scene was as compelling as it gets. Her voice soared. The closing note of her opening scene was breathtaking. Andreas Schager as Siegfried played the sympathetic character magnificently and sang with the internationally renowned Wagnerian sound that he is known for. Ain Anger was a totally convincing villain. His huge bass voice was a force in and of itself. Martin Gantner played an unsympathetic and weak ruler of the Gibichungs. His duet with Siegfried as they became blood brothers was a poignant moment. Others in the cast included Robert Pomakov as Alberich, Lindsay Ammann, Karen Cargill, Danika Lorѐn, Lauren Eberwein and Aviva Fortunata. Fortunata replaced Ileana Montalbetti for this performance and brought out all the emotions of a betrayed woman vocally and in her stage craft. The chorus under the direction of Sandra Horst, was magnificent.
The COC Orchestra
Andreas Schager as Siegfried in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Götterdämmerung, 2017, photo: Chris Hutcheson
Creating Wagnerian productions that can relate to modern audiences has been the challenge for opera companies since the middle of the last century. In this production, Director Tim Albery, Set and Costume Designer Michael Levine, and Lighting Designer David Finn have created a contemporary symbolic setting complete with a corporate office, computer screens, and fluorescent lighting. It was easy to see the parallel to corporate greed within the theme of lust for power. The starkness of the sets that included industrial wing flats added an industrial tone. The business attire of each of the men with the exception of Siegfried completed the symbolism.
Throughout last night’s performance the orchestra and each of the singers performed with great passion, power and musicianship. The orchestra, led by the superb COC Music Director Johannes Debus, was massive. The orchestra contained nine horns, three backstage horns, two harps, two stierhorns and totalled over one hundred musicians. From the first chord, the orchestra performed with precision, power and understanding.
Ain Anger (kneeling, right) as Hagen in a scene from the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Götterdämmerung, 2017, photo: Chris Hutcheson