Wagner, Siegfried (Orchestra Opera North cond. Richard Farnes)
I was getting rather in to the swing of heading up to Leeds at the weekends for a smidge of Wagner by the time of my third trip. Siegfried (14th May) never quite gets the credit it deserves, in my book: a dragons, magic fire, an awkward child, a bear, a talking woodbird. It is basically the animals of farthing wood with a woman surrounded by magical fire. And Wagner’s joke. His only joke. ‘This is no man’. Young Siegfried (ably sung by Lars Cleveman) is growing up and something of a handful. His adoptive father Mume (Richard Roberts) seemed as frustrated as he was crafty as he dealt with a rather egregious cookoo in the nest.
Béla Perencz was more than up to the task of crafty old Wotan, hiding in plain sight as a Wanderer. Apparently, in this world, nobody recognises you if you wear an eyepatch. Who knew? His daughter by Katherine Broderick was even more comfortable and secure vocally, making this seriously impressive. Mats Almgren (Fafner, offstage) was magnificent, but it was a shame amplification was used to convey his voice from offstage. I would have rather heard him. The Woodbird (Jeni Bern) looked like she might take flight as she flitted around the choir benches. Alberich (Jo Pohlheim) remained a complete rotter.
Musically, the band were growingly confident at the quality of their work, and they sounded better for it. But this is only base camp: the big one was yet to come.
Cast and creative team
Conductor - Richard Farnes
Concert Staging and Design Concept - Peter Mumford
Lighting and Projection Designer - Peter Mumford
Associate Director - Joe Austin
Siegfried - Lars Cleveman
Brünnhilde - Katherine Broderick
Mime - Richard Roberts
Wanderer - Béla Perencz
Fafner - Mats Almgren
Alberich - Jo Pohlheim
Woodbird - Jeni Bern
Erda - Claudia Huckle