Wagner: Die Walküre - Kniplová, Adam, Hillebrecht, Katz, Martin, Dalis; Sawallisch. Roma, 1968
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This performance of Die Walküre, like the famous Furtwängler performances from La Scala in the early 50s, shows that Italian musicians could master even Wagnerian demands. Although the orchestra at times lacks precision, they play with a lyricism that one rarely hears these days, particularly the strings who do not shy away from using portamenti. Wolfgang Sawallisch opts for brisker tempos, which create a more natural and speech-like quality to the singers' vocal production. In the title role Nedezda Kniplova's slavic voice may not convey the teenage quality of Brünnhilde as successfully as others, but she sings with great thrust and moving sensitivity. Lovers of this opera will probably already be familiar with Theo Adam's magisterial Wotan, and he does not disappoint in this performance either. Hildegard Hillebrecht's voice is on the limpid side and cannot muster the kind of ecstasy that a Leonie Rysanek could, but her tones are generally attractive. Eberhard Katz, a name with which I had not been familiar previously, does surprisingly well as Siegmund. His voice is on the lyric side which makes for a sumptuous "Winterstürme." Janis Martin is a very good Fricka, and in a surprising casting choice Irene Dalis sings the rather innocuous role of Waltraute, supposedly in an attempt to create consistency in the casting for when she would assume the same role in its longer iteration in Götterdämmerung. The sound is generally very good although there is some interference in Act II from the end of the Fricka scene into Wotan’s monologue.