Wagner: Götterdämmerung (Acts II & III) - Dvorakova, Heater, Lagger, Petri; Sebastian. Genève, 1969
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This recording of excerpts from Götterdämmerung should have the sub-title “Revenge of the Underrated Artists” as it features a trio of phenomenal singers who never managed to break through in the same way that some of their Wagnerian contemporaries did. Ludmila Dvorakova’s voice is an astonishing paradox as Brünnhilde. She possessed the lush quality of a mezzo-soprano as well as an easy top that seemed to defy gravity. She was also equally adept at singing a legato line as she was a hurdling steely high notes over Wagner’s massive orchestra without it sounding like two different voices. In a world where Wagnerites are used to making allowances for singers who must sing music that in many ways is unsingable, it is refreshing to find an artist who fits Wagner’s mold so well. Claude Heater was that rarest of birds - a Heldentenor who could cope with the grueling demands of six hours of singing Wagner, manage all the high notes (including an impressive high C) and all the while conveying a sense of youth and vigor (an interesting bit of operatic trivia: he played the part of Jesus opposite Charton Heston in Ben-Hur!) Peter Lagger delivers a black, calculating Hagen with a pinch of suave charm. I would be remiss not to mention Georges Sébastian (another underrated artists) who leads the orchestra with precision and paces the evening with organic ease. The sound is fair. The excerpts consists of Hagen’s watch in Act I and the complete Second and Third Acts.