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Saturday, December 11, 2004
The Adelaide Siegfried

There are some odd things to remark on – but not to criticise - in this production. Most of them are typically wry Aussie touches. For example, Siegfried slays the dragon by plunging his sword into the palm of its claw. Strange, but it later allows the giant central digit to rise erect, from the fist of its fellows, in its final death throes. Aimed at whom, one wonders…

Then there are Siegfried’s toys; one is a WWII bomber, a Mitchell I would guess. What is the significance of this? One also observes the very punk Mime homogenising one of his ghastly concoctions using an egg-whisk. Neither of these little touches detract from the story-telling – and Siegfried is one of the less-involved (and involving) episodes - so a bit of artistic creativity is very welcome. One still always feels sympathy for the bumbling Mime, even as Siegfried kills him, although the Nibelung has, all the time, been planning to drug and kill his young charge.

This Ring scintillates in the minor parts, too. As the Woodbird, Su-Cheen Yu – high without being piercing, carries off the role to perfection, acting and singing exquisitely. I had earlier had the opportunity to hear her sing in Maclaren Vale, at Piramimma winery as part of the ABC Classic FM* Series ‘Music in the Vineyards’. She was excellent there, too.

At the technical level, one has to praise the excellent synopses to the first two episodes but none was available for Siegfried when I arrived (at the last minute). Still, it’s the easiest to twig… And if there was one tiny gripe with the broadcast next door, it was with the subtitles: annoyingly illegible when they appeared against lighter backgrounds. One must also mention the 10/15 minute loss of sound at the beginning of Act II. However, this was offset by an apparent improvement in sound quality. Even better has been the gradual improvement of camerawork/photography throughout the cycle: Rheingold started with fairly static, distant shots but, as the episodes progressed, more and better use of close-up has made the action and singing even more immediate. One expects this to be reflected in the projected issue of a DVD. Now for Götterdämmerung

*Nothing to do with the commercial, jingle-ridden radio station of (almost) the same name in the UK.

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