Wagner: Das Rheingold - McIntyre, Randová, Zednik, Kélémen, Salminen, Jerusalem; Boulez. Bayreuth, 1977
Listen to a Sample:
Pierre Boulez starts this performance of Das Rheingold off with a gossamer-spun, rather than brooding, rendition of the prologue, and triumphs in a jocular ascent from Nibelheim after the capture of Alberich. The transformation scene is less successful, lacking the threat and humor some have brought to it, and the march to Valhalla is less grand than dazzling. It's an intriguing trade-off, but the clarity and dexterity he brings to the opera's crucial dialogue scenes make it worth the bargain. Donald McIntyre is in much finer voice than he would be three years later when the cycle was recorded for commercial release, and his Wotan is as pointed as he is self-important. Heinz Zednik also is as alert as ever, and I have rarely heard him sing better. Zoltan Kélémen is on hand for his reliably wonderful Alberich; he sounds a little tired but he remains the premiere interpreter of the character for this era. Eva Randová is a fine, priggish Fricka, and there is strong support from Siegfried Jerusalem's piercing Froh and Carmen Reppel, who manages the seemingly impossible task of making Freia vocally appealing. Heikki Toivanen is a rather lightweight Fasolt, which is not a problem encountered by Matti Salminen as his brother. Hanna Schwarz (who would graduate to Fricka in later performances of this cycle) is a mystical Erda and Wolf Appel is a whining Mime.