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Wagner: Siegfried - Fisch

Wagner: Siegfried - Fisch

Melba Recordings  MR301095-98 (4 discs)

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Opera


Wagner: Siegfried

Gary Rideout (Siegfried)
Richard Greager (Mime)
John Bröcheler (Wotan)
John Wegner (Alberich)
David Hibbard (Fafner)
Liane Keegan (Erda)
Lisa Gasteen (Brünnhilde)
Shu-Cheen Yu (Woodbird)
The State Opera of South Australia
Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
Asher Fisch (Conductor)

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Comment by threerandot - July 7, 2016 (1 of 1)

Review by threerandot April 16, 2008
Performance: 5
Sonics: 5 (MCH)

Asher Fisch and The State Opera of South Australia continue to reach new heights of Wagnerian excellence with this exciting recording of Richard Wagner's Siegfried.

For some, the opera Siegfried is not the most exciting part of Wagner's Ring Cycle. The most popular opera being Die Walkure. This recording of Siegfried is as exciting a recording of this opera as you are ever likely to find. With an excellent cast of singers, the mighty Adelaide orchestra, the impressive SA-CD surround sound and the control of Asher Fisch at the baton, this is truly a worthy Wagnerian performance.

Act 1 opens with a deliciously menacing prelude. Asher Fisch builds a slow and powerful climax, all while Mime works on the sword Nothung. The sounds of him working away help us to see in our minds eye, the on stage action, which really draws us into the drama. Richard Greager is an impressive Mime who creates a complex and rich characterization of the cunning little Nibelung dwarf who wants the power of the Ring and the Gold all to himself.

Gary Rideout is the hero, Siegfried, in this production and I don't know if a better Siegfried could be found anywhere. His is a lyrical voice but this seems all to the good. Rideout knows how to draw the character of Siegfried with great intelligence and a voice that has no trouble reaching the high notes. Just listen to his exchanges with Mime when he is asking where he came from and sings of the animals in the forest.

In Scene 2, John Brochelere returns as Wotan in disguise. He is the Wanderer who meets with Mime and their scenes together are also impressive. Brocheler's voice is impressive and the singing throughout this second scene is powerful and exciting. This scene can also become a little slow and tiresome in some conductor's hands, but Fisch keeps things moving along with plenty of energy.

In Scene 3, Siegfried returns to Mime and Asher Fisch really turns up the excitment level. Mime attempts to teach the young hero fear and the Adelaide orchestra's power and fury is unleashed. The sword forging scene is also full of thrust and excitment. Rideout sings of his new sword with great power and authority and the Adelaide orchestra is equally exciting. This entire first Act is a wonderful way to begin this opera, proving that Siegfried can be an exciting and visceral experience.

Act 2 is even more impressive with strong characterizations from all the players. Alberich confronts the Wanderer with his rage punctuated by the Adelaide orchestra and the Wanderer apathetic to his fate. As Siegfried ventures into the forest to face the dragon, the Adelaide orchestra paints a beautiful picture of the forest murmurs with plenty of atmosphere. Gary Rideout's voice is lyrical and sensitive as he sings of the death of his mother. In fact the whole forest scene has a magical and dreamy quality. His attempts to play the reed pipe to befriend the Woodbird is suitably comical, played by the Adelaide oboist. After Siegfried's Horn Call, you can hear the sound of the dragon slithering onto the stage. Siegfried's confrontation and killing of the dragon is a highlight.

Act 3 features some of the most exciting singing and action in this entire cycle beginning with Wotan summoning Erda for advice to heated exchanges between the Wanderer and Siegfried, with the Wanderer barring his way to Brunnhilde upon the Rock. Scene 3 is truly grand, with Asher Fisch leading the Adelaide Orchestra in a performance that builds up the tension between Siegfried and Brunnhilde. Rideout is simply fantastic as Siegfried with Lisa Gasteen's Brunnhilde equally matched. Listen for the Orchestra swelling and growing just before Brunnhilde awakens. The remainder of Act 3 continues to build in excitment with a grand close. Asher Fisch keeps the pace moving along with plenty of Drama and attention to dynamics. A memorable performance.

The packaging of these SA-CDs from Melba Recordings features a Jewel Case sized booklet with the SA-CDs inside cardboard pockets within the book. I did not really like the idea of taking my SA-CDs in and out of the sleeves, so I placed them in my own Jewel Cases. The problem with the cardboard sleeves is that there is sometimes a little glue on the discs themselves, which meant I had to wash them. I do understand that putting this package together did cut down on costs. However, my discs came in good condition and cleaning took a little work. The book is also covered in a kind of heavy clear plastic to protect the booklet, which I can appreciate. Overall I would have preferred a packaging more closely resembling the Harmonia Mundi operas. Nevertheless, this will not really detract from my final rating of these recordings. The book contains the synopsis, essays, photos, bios on the performers, a complete list of the performers in the Adelaide Symphony, recording information, as well as info on the Melba foundation. The Libretto features only German and English. A french version can be downloaded from the Melba website.

With an excellent cast and plenty of momentum that is never rushed, all concerned in this performace of Siegfried should be proud. The sound of the Adelaide Festival Hall is beautifully captured by the recording team in a warm and enveloping acoustic. Very highly Recommmended.

(This review refers to the Multichannel portion of this disc.)