Defending the 12th century since the 14th; blogging since the 21st.

Catholicism, Conservatism, the Middle Ages, Opera, and Historical and Literary Objets d'Art blogged by a suburban dad who teaches law and writes stuff.

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Who was Cacciaguida? See Dante's PARADISO, Cantos XV, XVI, & XVII.

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Sunday, April 18, 2004
I know there are some Heldentenor experts who read this blog..., what did you think of the Met broadcast SIEGFRIED yesterday?

I thought Jon Fredric West was, well, good. Maybe very good. When I hear a Siegfried who's new to me, the first thing I want to know, when he makes his entrance, is -- does he have the lung power to get the job done? Will he still be alive, and with some voice left, at the end of the performance? As soon as West strode on, the answer was clearly yes. OTOH, he's no Melchior, or even Svanholm. Some of his intonation in the Forging Song consisted of what we baseball fans call "neighborhood plays". But he got through the performance in good form, and actually sounded better toward the end.

Of course I only heard it on the radio. Friends who were there said West's acting was far above the usual Siegfried standard, and that he earned the standing ovation that he got.

West was partnered with an unusual Mime -- a kid, still in his early 30s, named Gerhard Siegel. Two interesting things about him: my in-house sources say he's an astounding actor, better (apparently) than the other "character tenors" who have taken on this part at the Met recently, Heinz Zednik and Graham Clark. But even more interesting -- while filling up his engagement book with Mime at the big houses -- the Met, Covent Garden, Bayreuth -- Siegel also sings Siegfried, albeit in smaller houses. (Also Florestan, Tannhauser....)

I have never heard of a tenor who had Siegfried and Mime in his active repertory at the same time. Occasionally a superannuated Siegfried will return as Mime (like Manfred Jung -- who should have stuck to Mime all along). But I've never heard of a singer alternating between these two parts. Have you?

The rest: James Morris is still a grand singer, but his Wotan days are winding down. The wobble in his voice has gotten bad. Richard Paul Fink may be the greatest Alberich of all time: Gus Neidlinger better watch out for his crown! I'm slowly overcoming my looks-based prejudice against Jane Eaglen: she is fat, but yesterday she sounded youthful and slender. Elena Zaremba sounded luscious, Matti Salminen did his thing with predictably powerful impact; Joyce Guyer seemed a less winsome Forest Bird than recent competition, e.g. Heidi Grant Murphy.

Jimmy and the orchestra were great, great, great. They always are.