Die Walküre

James Levine
New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra
Date/Location
19 March 1988
Metropolitan Opera House New York
Recording Type
  live  studio
  live compilation  live and studio
Cast
SiegmundPeter Hofmann
HundingAage Haugland
WotanTheo Adam
SieglindeLeonie Rysanek
BrünnhildeHildegard Behrens
FrickaWaltraud Meier
HelmwigeMarita Napier
GerhildePyramid Sellers
OrtlindeGail Tremitiere
WaltrauteJoyce Castle
SiegruneDiane Kesling
GrimgerdeWendy Hillhouse
SchwertleiteJoan Khara
RoßweißeJacalyn Bower
Gallery
Reviews
New York Times

Rysanek’s Final Sieglinde At the Met

Leonie Rysanek’s final Sieglinde at the Metropolitan Opera Saturday afternoon was the occasion for a warm outpouring of thanks to a soulful, beloved artist, and the good will that flowed all around served to keep at bay the depression ordinarily attendant on an inadequate performance of “Die Walküre.”

Miss Rysanek, who made her mark in operatic history with Sieglinde at the first postwar Bayreuth Festival 37 years ago, was in good current voice, and played the part with the complete absorption and abandon that has always made her memorable. “Sieglinde’s Scream” – an outcry when Siegmund pulls the sword from the tree, popularized by this singer and much imitated – has become such an annoying moment in “Die Walküre” that it was good to be reminded how naturally Miss Rysanek does it.

It is not easy for some listeners to surrender fully to her enthusiasm, partly because she often shatters the dramatic illusion at its highest climactic point by going wildly off pitch. That difficulty was not absent Saturday, but the beauty of much else gave ample reason for the audience to applaud the present performance as well as its memories of past ones.

She deserved a better Siegmund. The Met management does disservice both to Peter Hofmann and to its own reputation for competent judgment by allowing Mr. Hofmann’s engagement to outlast his vocal adequacy by so many seasons. The rather self-regarding athletics of his stage portrayal are by no means compensation.

Waltraud Meier was far and away the best Fricka yet to sing in this production, keenly aware of each shift in the situation and able to make her character’s tactics and responses audible in the voice. Theo Adam knows his way around the part of Wotan, but it does him little good, because his voice at this point will not supply steadiness, power, nobility of tone or subtlety of declamation. It is not a matter of simply being past one’s vocal prime, but of being forced to contradict the interpretation with the singing. In the two roles still taken by the singers who did them at the season’s first “Walküre” Aage Haugland sang a steady, strong Hunding and Hildegard Behrens was far from her best form as Brünnhilde. The troop of Valkyries sounded dreadful.

Will Crutchfield

Rating
(6/10)
User Rating
(3/5)
Media Type/Label
HO
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Technical Specifications
320 kbit/s CBR, 44.1 kHz, 553 MByte (MP3)
Remarks
Matinee broadcast
A production by Otto Schenk (1986)