nWould Wagner have made Siegfried so offensive? Thomas Mann called him “a con, a god of light and a social revolutionary anarchist at the same time,” but he’s not just a clown, but an innocence clouded by the rudeness and indignation of a bloated child who is a tyrant. Still in the new production of Longborough Festival Opera, Stage Three of the Ring Cycle, directed by Amy Lane, The Proposal, by horrific mime (Adrian Dwyer), couldn’t help it. A state of education afflicting an outward man who learns better things on his own in the wild.
All this can make the first act an attempt to reconcile dissenters while wondering if Siegfried has a voice that lasts all night. Bradley Daly had the stamina and weight to do so, and seemed to achieve his most compelling tone with fervor as he forged a magical sword and fired him with the idea of finding Brünnhilde. Julia Lozano’s cheerful Woodberg—borrowing from last year’s Cunning Little Vixen vibe and with a rusty streak in her hair to boot—is a mantra for Siegfried, and as the first female voice in a long time, for listeners, too. This relationship is well managed, especially by conductor Anton Negus who brings delicacies to the score, masterfully played by the Longborough Festival Orchestra. A shout out to Siegfrieds Hornruf.
In all things Siegfried’s Journey and his opera, Wanderer – Wotan in his self-imposed exile from his home country of Valhalla – is his primary. Silver-toned and bearded, Paul Cary Jones moved with dignified grace unimpeded by a heavy floor-length coat, and was at his most impressive in appearance. His clear, expressive drop of words gave meaning to every inflection in Wanderer’s argument—both in himself and in those he asked—and the polished tone was often enjoyable, especially in the third act scene with Erda May Heidorn.
In terms of staging, moments when background graphics – the flowing Rhine or the forest – blend in with the music work better than the rickety stage design and props. But singing and acting, including Mark Stone as Alberich and Simon Wilding as Dragon Fafner, helped overcome reservations. And in the excitement and ecstasy of Brunhild’s awakening by the enlightened Siegfried, with Les Bessette’s soprano-rich voyage, Longborough’s reputation – and by extension the Negus – to honor Wagner is once again underlined.