On March 30th, 2019 the Metropolitan Opera (Met Opera) presented Die Walküre as part of their Live in HD broadcast. The production is the Robert Lepage directed production that premiered several seasons ago.
The production stars Christine Goerke (Brünnhilde), Greer Grimsley (Wotan), Stuart Skelton (Siegmund), Eva-Maria Westbroek (Sieglinde), Günther Groissböck (Hunding), and Jamie Barton (Fricka.) The Met Orchestra was led by Mastro Philippe Jordan.
The production was first seen in 2011, when it was presented on its own, and as part of the Live in HD series. The production uses the now infamous “Machine” with 24 planks. The production is essentially a straightforward production, but the Machine was able to be used to provide eight of the planks to simulate horses for the Valkyries in Act Three.
Because the planks can move around to create different scenes, we get to see Siegmund running through a forest away from Hunding and hie relatives during the prologue of Act One. But we also get to see a resemble of a house and a tree with a sword in it, a rocky mountain in Act Three, etc.
The singing for the most part was outstanding. Ms. Goerke was incredible as Brünnhilde, acting like a teenager and reacting to Wotan in Act Two. But she is also vocally very sound. Mr. Groissböck was a terrifying Hunding – no wonder Sieglinde is scared of him and more than happy to flee from him with Siegmund (and no wonder why she did not want to stop and rest in Act Two.) As for Sieglinde, Ms. Westbroek was also incredible – she owns the role and was just as outstanding. She sang the role in the same production back in 2011 and I believe she was better this time (and she was great in 2011!)
Ms. Barton’s Fricka was very moving. Her Fricka had every right to be angry with her adulterer husband, and the fact that he would support the law being broken. I hope to see more Wagner from her in the future. Mr. Grimsley’s Wotan was acted very well – everything the man who is trying maintain his power. Vocally he sounded like he was past his prime at times but was still very sound.
Maestro Jordan’s conducting was wonderful – during Wotan’s Farewell I was holding back tears as the orchestra played!
The only downside of the performance for me was Mr. Skelton’s performance as Siegmund. He acted the role well, but I found that he was flat several times during the performance, with a couple phrases sounding a bit nasal. His voice has a very baritonal quality, even more so than during his Tristan performances a couple years ago, and a bit more forced. I heard a recording of his from a few years ago and his voice seems to have naturally deepened over of the last few years. His singing improved in Act Two, but I found his voice took away from an otherwise incredible first act.
At the end of the day it was an enjoyable performance overall.
Here are some video clips from the Met (please note the last clip is from 2011):