By George Dixon
This one-off recital could only be described as “Total Perfection.”
The Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Hall is purposely designed, built, and engineered as “The premier recital hall”. The Recital Centre is sitting on suspension dampers to eliminate sounds and vibrations from passing traffic and trams. With amazing wood panelling and one thousand seating capacity, every seat in the hall can experience the full acoustic subtlest.
As a recital, we experienced the splendour of a ninety-piece orchestra positioned Centre-Stage. The stage settings presented balanced positions to accommodate four performers, which is the perfect setup for the opposing characters.
Directed by Suzanne Chaundy, each singer is allowed to present their character as if in costume, with presentations directed towards the audience, placing the audience as the opposing person. The direction and professionalism of the performers removed the need for costumes and props.
Watching Anthony Negus, Music Director of Longborough Festival Opera and esteemed international authority, as a conductor and coach of Wagner’s works was a real privilege.
His conductorship of the Ninety-piece Melbourne Opera Orchestra was a masterclass, highlighted by the visual and acoustic ambience. The subtleness of Wagner’s works becomes prominent including the single notes, and the delivery of Siegfried’s horn fanfare “Leitmotif” perfectly played by Evgeny Chebkykin.
The vocal dynamics and characterisation of each performer not only brought the recital to life, it provided a depth of visualisation that surpassed the need for costumes.
Robert Macfarlane as Mine literally throws himself into his character, not only with his facial expressions but by demonstrating Mine’s frustrations and internal pressures when things do not go his way. This crafty and self-serving dwarf delights in his selfish schemes throwing himself to the ground in despair when challenged. Macfarlane’s rich Tenor voice, exuberant personality and clear diction brings Mine to life, as clearly demonstrated through the comical barbs with Siegfried.
Bradley Daley performance as Siegfried is as stable as a rock. His consistency and energy are to be applauded. Daley maintains his character throughout this concert. Projecting the stance of a young naive fearless and sometimes-arrogant young man who is full of adventure with a simplistic can-do attitude. Daley’s Tenor voice complements that of Macfarlane’s. Throughout the recital, the visual presentation leaves little to the imagination.
Warwick Fyfe as The Wanderer has a formidable and mysterious character that commands an equal performer. Fyfe with his engaging presence and Heldenbass Baritone voice fits the character well. With a few short keystone cameos it is clear that there’s more to The Wanderer that meets the eye. This is projected by Fyfe’s physicality and vocal strength.
Simon Meadows as Alberich depicts the dark stealing persona that is Alberich. His darkness and dark heart are further reinforced through the heaviness of silence and deeper musical tones. Meadows’s iconic Baritone vocals and implacable timing delivers the menacing evil image.While a small cameo, his presence is impactful.
Steven Gallop as Fafner/Dragon, slowly enters from the side, he moves his head high and looks around slowly surveying the surroundings. It is unmistakable that Gallop has transformed into a dragon. Gallop’s ability to marry the menacing evil image of Alberich is extremely complementary.
Rebecca Rashleigh as Woodbird is an absolute delight, her soprano gymnastics resembling bird chirps gives an atmospheric lift to the previous all-male voices.
Lee Abrahmsem as Brunnhilde is outstanding; the crescendo of the journey is matched by the delightful operatic soprano masterpiece that is Abrahmsem with her rich tones and musical range. Awakening from her magical sleep she instantly falls in love with Siegfried, in doing so completes the circle.
Wagner’s masterpiece develops many layers within the journey that is The Ring Circle. The full Opera is a fantastic journey of sight, sound, and emotions.The audience response to part three in this recital concludes with a passionate full house standing ovation that ran for approximately five minutes.
It is pleasing to note that Melbourne Opera has announced the Ring Cycle Cultural Festival – Bendigo for which the full production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle parts One, Two and Three, will be performed. With the same cast, once again conducted by Anthony Negus and Directed by Suzanne Chaundy. This will be the first time something of this scale has been conducted in an Australian regional city.
Performance dates are from March 24th, 2023.
For further details and booking