Edinburgh International Festival Review: Siegfried

Siegfried at Edinburgh International Festival. Picture: Ryan Buchanan
Siegfried at Edinburgh International Festival. Picture: Ryan Buchanan
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The penultimate instalment of Wagner’s Ring Cycle is not the most dramatic but the combination of Mark Elder conducting The Hallé, who were sensational (especially the horns, tubas, woodwind and strings), and a clutch of outstanding singers made for a thrilling evening.

Siegfried, Usher Hall *****

Simon O’Neill in the title role was magnificent: his tenor voice is light but it packs an emotional punch. Clad for the most part in cut-off jeans and flip-flops, O’Neill reminded us of how young the testosterone-filled Siegfried is. There was solid support from the fabulous Gerhard Siegel as Siegfried’s treacherous step-father Mime, and Iain Paterson. His Wotan/The Wanderer had just the right balance of menace and swagger. Clive Bayley as Fafner the dragon sang with pathos, Samuel Youn was a convincing conniving Alberich while Anna Larsson’s Erda was indeed earthy.

On the advice of a woodbird (Danae Kontora) Siegfried goes to wake his aunt Brünnhilde, an entrancing Christine Goerke whose soprano voice has such warmth in the lower registers, from her eternal sleep in a circle of fire. Their awakened passion, sealed with a lingering kiss, is the springboard into the final episode.