Pl·cido Domingoís miraculous autumn

The direction was
self-managed by the singing company with very few ìItalian-style
rehearsalsî (the pun is reportedly due to Pl·cido Domingo himself).
Despite lacking costumes and props, the bodies kept moving and interacting
throughout, so that, in the end, the chairs remained empty most of the time.
The ìItalian-styleî label was also applicable to the tenorís German
diction, with consonants softened and vowels broadly open; probably more
gracefully that any native singer would, yet not marring the textís
understanding. Other than a handful of specialists, actually, who really
understands Wagnerís language? Ask any educated German for

A 67-year-old Siegmund would make news anyway, but Domingoís is simply a
miracle for clarion tones, power and tenderness. This February at La Scala,
where he sang the title-role in Alfanoís Cyrano de Bergerac, I had
noticed his intelligence in overcoming the disadvantages of age through the
frugal management of his resources until the final act. This was a different
case, since Siegmund disappears after Act 2, so no such contrivances were
needed and his stage charisma could deploy right from the start in a perfect
combination of acting skills and velvety vocal color.

Nobly pathetic when retelling the mishaps of his family, he unsheathed
sarcasm and proud challenge during his confrontations with Hundig, conjured
delicate emotions in the hymn to Spring and warlike excitement in his appeal
to the sword (ìNothung! Nothung!î) at the end of Act 1. Even Evelyn
Herlitzius, a mercurial Br¸nnhilde of no particular firmness in her high
tones, could not escape his manly spell during their duet on the battlefield
in Act 2. With her beautiful central range, perfect intonation, and the coy
passion of certain feminine motions, Waltraud Meierís Sieglinde proved a
worth partner for the hero; as a duly hateful Hundig, young RenÈ Pape could
well abuse her with his marble bass, but could hardly shake her soft

Equally well matched (so to say) was the godlike couple in the Walhalla:
Alan Held, the experienced Wagnerian from Washburn, Illinois, made an
embittered but quite not unsympathetic Wotan, while Jane Henschel was a
Fricka of inflexible decision and generous vocal means. In the patrol of
Valkyries, Michelle Marie Cook (Gerhilde) and Gemma Coma-Alabert (Rossweisse)
emerged for their burnished instruments, while brave InÈs Moraleda
(Grimgerde) reaped additional applause and flowers from the audience because
of her noticeably advanced pregnancy. Conductor Sebastian Weigle, the home
orchestra and everybody else were fÍted much beyond the Liceuís usual
restraint; as to Don Pl·cido, his (purposely?) belated appearance for the
curtain calls unleashed a standing ovation that was little short of

Carlo Vitali

image_description=Waltraut Meier (Sieglinde), Pl·cido Domingo (Siegmund) [Photo: Antoni Bofill]
product_title=Richard Wagner: Die Walk¸re
product_by=Gran Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona
Semi-staged production
Performance of 1 June 2008
product_id=Above: Waltraut Meier (Sieglinde), Pl·cido Domingo (Siegmund)
Photo © Antoni Bofill