Stéphane Braunschweig´s Walküre may perhaps best be described as Wotan´s human test tube, conceptually rather similar to Claus Guth´s recent Walküre in Hamburg but executed with an additional touch of aesthetic psychoanalysis.
A postmodern Freudian test tube with the characters moving in confined, virtually bare and closed Freudian spaces limited by elegant geometrical lines, symbol-laden steps and with stunning light effects applied. A very beautiful production allowing for focus on the music without losing scope of the drama on stage.
Robert Gambill both looks and acts the part as the weary Siegmund, but struggles with actually singing it. Eva-Maria Westbroek is simply superb as Sieglinde and is probably the finest jugendlich-dramatische soprano of today. Mikhail Petrenko looks like a second-rate Russian mobster with ditto authority as Hunding. Sir Willard White is dramatically, if not at all times vocally, superb. If Eva Johansson manages to control her quavering notes under pressure and her tendency to neurotic acting she will be a great Brünnhilde. Lilli Paasikivi was furthermore fine as Fricka.
Sir Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonics were simply splendid in what will be Sir Simon´s first Ring Cycle in 2010. Slow tempi, poignant string and brass sections with plenty of energy and tension. I´ve previously considered Sir Simon Rattle more proficient in the non-conducting areas of his job (communication, programming etc) than in actually making the music. That he is such a fine Wagnerian conductor is the surprise of the year, so far. At least to me.
The complete televised performance on which this DVD is based is now available for free viewing at YouTube.
This is a review of the DVD release, also available on bluray.
Ride of the Valkyries:
The bottom line (scale of 1-5, 3=average):
Sir Willard White: 4
Eva Johansson: 4
Eva-Maria Westbroek: 5
Mikhail Petrenko: 3-4
Lilli Paasikivi: 4-5
Robert Gambill: 3
Stephane Braunschweig´s production: 4
Sir Simon Rattle: 5
Overall impression: 4