Wagner: Götterdämmerung - Varnay, Windgassen, Greindl, Uhde, Grümmer, Neidlinger, Nilsson; Knappertsbusch. Bayreuth, 1957
Listen to a Sample:
- Every Brünnhilde has a Ring opera that fits better than others (hence the tradition at Bayreuth to cast multiple sopranos in that role). It is clear from the beginning of the love duet to the end of the Immolation Scene that Astrid Varnay was a "Götterdämmerung-Brünnhilde" through and through. Varnay was certainly capable of subtle nuance, as we can hear in her Walküre, but give her the chance to truly unleash all the fury of her colossal soprano and she will set the stage ablaze, as she does in this performance.
- Oddly, Wolfgang Windgassen's voice in his early years was a shade darker than in the 1960s. However, he is no less compelling as Siegfried, bringing ease of vocal production throughout his entire range.
- When it comes to operatic villainy, Josef Greindl could give Bela Lugosi a run for his money. However, he is still able to give this character added dimension and at times a hint of sympathy.
- The only problem with casting Elisabeth Grümmer as Gutrune is that her voice is so stunning it can easily seem a little far-fetched that even after Siegfried is liberated from Hagen's potion he still wouldn't opt for her over Brünnhilde..
- Birgit Nilsson, fresh from her earlier triumph as Sieglinde, makes an impressive cameo as the Third Norn.
- Hans Knappertsbusch and the Bayreuth Orchestra seem to relish all of the challenges of the score. His interpretation of the Rhine Journey is abundant with joy and a well-needed antidote to the otherwise serious nature of this opera.
- None to mention.