Wagner: Siegfried - Hopf, Nilsson, Milligan, O. Kraus, H. Kraus, Höffgen; Kempe. Bayreuth, 1961
Listen to a Sample:
For most Wagnerites out there your eye will immediately go to the Siegfried and Brünnhilde team of Hans Hopf and Birgit Nilsson, but the real interest of this recording lies in the Wotan of Canadian bass-baritone, James Milligan. Milligan was on his way to have an outstanding career. Sadly this career was cut short when he suffered from a heart attack at the age of 33, just months after this performance took place. As Wotan, he possessed all of the charm, charisma as well as world-weary defeatism that the role requires and although the voice was quite gorgeous, he also reveals an innate musicality and sensitivity to text. Hans Hopf is nearly stupendous as Siegfried. I say "nearly" because despite his burnished tone and secure top, his tendency to occasionally go flat can detract from his merits. There is nothing that can detract from Birgit Nilsson's Brünnhilde. In 1961 she was at the height of her powers and effortlessly throws off some of the most daunting music that Wagner ever wrote for soprano. The sound is good.