Is there a more ungrateful title role in opera than Siegfried? He has to forge a magic sword, slay a dragon, defeat the god Wotan (disguised as the Wanderer) and rescue Brünnhilde from a mountain-top magic fire. In more than three hours on stage he sings most of the time, usually loudly and at the top of his range.
This concert performance reduced the physical but not the vocal workload. Estonian tenor Mati Turi succeeded without husbanding his voice excessively while avoiding any hard-pressed heldentenor yelping – an impressive achievement. He’s no great actor, looking like a plump ruddy overgrown schoolboy either petulant or puzzled, but Wagner’s bumptious hero is almost impossible to play convincingly.
When Brünnhilde awoke, Annalena Persson showed how to make a goddess, realizing she has been reduced to mere mortality, believable and touching. The lovers’ increasingly ecstatic duet was a fitting climax to a thrilling performance in which there was not a single weak link. Richard Roberts’ Mime was accurately and pointedly sung, without the customary and unnecessary cackling; Michael Druiett’s Wanderer was noble, imposing and with a nice line in irony; Jo Pohlheim’s baleful Alberich sounded formidable; Ceri Williams and Mats Almgren were convincing as Erda and Fafner while Fflur Wyn’s Woodbird was sweetly sung.
Richard Farnes conducted a performance of immense power with the often dark score irradiated by shimmering subtle details. The players, from tuba to triangle, were magnificent, the strings ardent, brass louring and woodwind full of character – and hats off to the first horn!