It is particularly encouraging that the Greek National Opera decided to venture seriously into the Wagner repertoire. Not that this is the first time, we had the opportunity to sample Rheingold and Tristan but this production coming from the Danish Opera tested the abilities of the stage machinery of the new Opera House, as well as the Orchestra, and let me say that it won with flying colours.

Τhe Director John Fulljames , with the sets and costumes of Tom Scutt, created a simple but very effective space , enhanced by the lighting of D.M.Word, a two face set which on the one side became Hunding’s hut and on the reverse steps, presumably leading to Vallhala, while in a secret trap door the dead heroes led by the Valkyries appeared bloody and in tatters strugling to ascend to Vallhala. In the final immolation scene a pyre appeared which was lighted enclosing Brunnhilde in real flames. Wotan’s abode was an architectural Office full of plans and computers, since he was fond of building things.

I really liked the whole set up which was simple but so effective and even if, as it is the norm, it was sort of “modernized”, it never went too far to offend , as is usual , but seemed a that it was a well thought and sensitive approach to the opera. 

The singers were exeptional not only vocally but dramatically as well. I particularly was impressed by the voice and acting of Catherine Foster as Brunnhilde, an acomplished artist who was vocally perfectly suited for the role. She has a lyrical dramatic voice with ease at the high register. Her acting was impeccable , she revealed not only the warlike nature of Brunnhilde, but her sensitivity as well especially at the last act duet with Wotan, a heartbreaking scene.

Tommy Hakala sung the role of Wotan with a stable and lyrical voice, and look majestic in his white robes. I would however liked a more strong and determined portrayal of the role, a more “Imperial” presence, he is the Head God after all.

Marina Prudenskaya not only looked the part, she is a beautyful determined woman that is in fact the real power behind Wotan the “eminence grise” that moves the strings. She was vocally and dramatically one of the most notable presence of the evening.

I liked the voice of Stefan Vinke, a wonderful tenor, with sensitive singing,  as well as Allison Oaks as Sieglinde both singers experts in the Wagnerian scene. Petros Magoulas was a surprising presence, but his voice is “proteian” singing a wide range of repertoire that covers the baroque and the romantic repetoire. He sang with force and looked very menacing as Hunding, I hope we will have the oportunity to listen to more Wagner from him.

The Valkyries (Katherine Sendmeier, Violetta Lousta, Taxiarchoula Kanati, Nefeli Kotseli, Dimitra Kalaitzi-Tilikidou, Fotini Athanassaki, Anna Tselika and Chrysanthi Spitadi) , were very impressive, and sung with poise and a warlike spirit.

The Orchestra of the Greek National Opera , led by the stable hand of  Roland Klutting , had some issues since the Orchestra is more groomed to a lighter repertoire, however the came out with flying colours. 

All in all it was a very enjoyable evening and I hope an oportunity to experience the complete Ring Cycle. In ths new technically perfect Opera House, it is time to sail to the Wagnerian waters.

Fotos: Simopoulos, C.Winther