Wagner: Siegfried - Cox, Adam, Kniplová, Wohlfahrt; Sawallisch. Roma, 1968
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Sawallisch's approach to the Ring pays off in one of the fastest Siegfrieds on record, making this opera the true scherzo of the cycle. The opera bubbles and thrums under his baton, and the effect is not so much a marathon, as Wagner often is, but a footrace. Jean Cox still is running the slower race in the title role, and he audibly struggles to keep up in some of the score's more punishing moments, but he manages a ringing, if not particularly deep, reading of the hero. Deepness is provided by Theo Adam, sounding world-weary and majestically sad, but there are unexpectedly droll moments in his scenes with Erwin Wohlfahrt's surprisingly melodic Mime and Zoltán Kélémen's brooding Alberich. Karl Ridderbusch is a sonorous dragon, although he does without any of the usual booming sound effects, and Oralia Dominguez repeats her equally sonorous Erda from Das Rheingold. When she arrives in act three Nadézda Kniplová blasts through the orchestra in a brilliant but occasionally strident rendition of the awakening scene, and ends the opera with a ringing high C (Cox decides not to take the higher option, leaving Kniplová to declare victory in the "highly competitive" love duet, as Anna Russell would put it.) Only Ingrid Paller's disappointing wood bird mars this fleet, exciting recording of Wagner's most adventurous opera.