Love Duets from "Siegfried" and "Tristan und
Deborah Voigt (Soprano)
Placido Domingo (Tenor) *Violeta Urmana (Mezzo-soprano) Orchestra
of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden Conducted by Antonio
EMI Classics CDC5 57004
The press release for this disc reveals what the liner notes do not: that
the Tristan duet concludes with the first ever outing for a "concert ending"
that Wagner himself arranged in 1862 for two favourite singers who, in the
end, never sung it. It ensures that this chunk of Wagner doesn't bleed much
because, in the opera, the duet is brought to a violent halt by the bursting
on to the stage of the court accompanied by Brangane's scream. Here what
Wagner replaces that with is music that will eventually resolve the same
material in the Act III Liebestod at the end of the opera and, under these
circumstances, very satisfying it sounds giving this disc an extra importance
on top of the presence of its distinguished soloists.
As we have found before with Placido Domingo singing Wagner what you gain
in power and lyricism you do have to sacrifice a little in his sense of the
meaning of the words. But Deborah Voigt is an excellent partner and no doubt
she will be heard again in these roles where her intelligence matched to
fine musicianship will stand her in good stead. A word of praise also for
Violeta Urmana who sings "Brangane's watch" with just the right amount of
mystery out of a real sense of distance provided by the recording. In the
Siegfried duet Domingo is more miscast, I think, unable quite to project
the boorish youth that has just shattered The Wanderer's spear to get to
the ring of fire. Again, however, Voigt is much more aware of the dramatic
situation and awakens in fine voice.
Antonio Pappano is an interesting and welcome choice to conduct. He has recently
been named Music Director designate at Covent Garden and this is his first
recording with the orchestra since then and I think it's significant it should
be Wagner rather than one of the Italians that we hear him in first. This
disc promises well for there is a real air of security and familiarity from
his orchestra's contribution and his support for his soloists. EMI provides
them all with a rich recorded sound that has plenty of air around the instruments
though at the start of the Siegfried duet the harps are too backward. Their
sound at this point is one of the most memorable passages in the whole opera.
For those who like their Wagner short and for those who wish to hear Domingo
especially in these two duets, this disc is a must.