OPERA / Give up the boos: Die Walkure - Royal Opera House
Tuesday 18 October 1994
In that moment, the director, Richard Jones, left behind his frivolous and actually rather puny staging of Das Rheingold, and his Ring, emotionally speaking, grew up. Notwithstanding the zany, sometimes trivial visual metaphors, this Walkure is strong and concentrated. Act 1 is all stillness and palpable menace, faces always in shadow, a physical wariness characterising the blocking. That it didn't quite happen on Friday was principally due to the failing stamina of Poul Elming's Siegmund and the somewhat impassive and chilly vocal demeanour (very white, very Scandinavian) of Ulla Gustafsson's Sieglinde. Elming is a fine, lissom presence on stage, and the resolve and intelligence of his singing makes for far more than nature intended of a correspondingly lissom voice. There isn't much girth to the sound, and the essential heroic reserves just weren't there for him at the close. But he never sings louder than is lovely, and he truly touched the heart of Act 2.
Act 2 was altogether tremendous. Wotan's visible delight in his favourite daughter's horsemanship was a nice opening gambit from Jones. Then in bounded the strapping lass in a skeleton-print lycra body and purple gym-skirt. An ailing Deborah Polaski had made a remarkable recovery, hurling out her battle cries with blood- curdling precision, though her loud (very loud) singing was generally better supported than her softer entreaties.
Jane Henschel's Fricka (emerging from an armoured car, still in her bridal gown) had progressed well from home- builder to shrew. Her domination of Wotan was unusually vehement. Though she too must find more vocal security in repose.
But nothing on stage came even close to the triumph of John Tomlinson's Wotan. What a performance this is, how moving his ignominious descent from god to broken man. Tomlinson truly lived his great Act 2 narration, thought governing emotion in every word and phrase. Certainly there are sporadic signs of vocal wear and tear - but his conviction is unstinting and invincible. As is Bernard Haitink's astonishing grasp of Wagner's musical superstructure. Orchestrally, we've no right to expect better. I'd forgotten just how lonely a bass clarinet could sound, how fervently strings and horns soar over Wotan and Brunnhilde's last embrace.
Jones bravely confounds our expectations in this climactic moment, having Wotan pull away from the embrace, as if no longer able to look upon that which he loves most but must now lose. And even as the flames begin to rise, his physical agitation shows him quite literally torn between love and duty.
Such insights were plainly lost on the booers.
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
Oscars 2015 Bringing you all the news from the 87th Academy Awards
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Film Hollywood's new leading lady talks about her Ramsay Street days
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
- 2 The black and blue dress: Makers considering a white and gold version
- 3 This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
- 4 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
Broadchurch series 3: David Tennant and Olivia Colman to return for third season, ITV confirms
Eurovision 2015: Finnish punk band with learning disabilities applies to raise awareness
Drake matches The Beatles' record with 14 singles in top 100 chart at the same time
Aidan Turner interview: 'being a sex symbol is a little awkward'
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Cash for access' scandal: Sir Malcolm Rifkind says 'unrealistic' for MPs to live on £67,000 salary
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'