Richard Wagner called Die Walküre the “first evening” of the Ring of the Nibelung; he called Das Rheingold the prologue or Vorabend. Musically and dramatically, we are introduced to a radically new and different world when the opening bars of Die Walküre resound. A fully developed orchestral palette of Leitmotivs paints a wild storm scene, and the curtain rises on a modest dwelling: a fully human scene that has nothing to do with the gods, dwarves and nymphs of Das Rheingold. At the same time, however, the way Die Walküre portrays radical beginnings reveals some telling reminiscences of the unfolding of Das Rheingold. Die Walküre is exciting and deeply feeling drama.
In Parma, where audiences are considered the most discerning in all Italy, the benchmark for vocal artists is set traditionally high. Operagoers here are intimately familiar with the works of their favourites, from Rossini to Puccini, and know every tricky corner by heart. God forbid any singer who fails to accomplish the task without due seemliness Unsurprisingly, then, this performance attempts no directorial experiments. The main setting for this realistically inspired production both indoors and out is Rosinas house, which is converted as required into its constituent parts.
One of Mozart’s best-known opera, Die Zauberflöte, opened the series of new opera productions of the 2012 Salzburg Festival. Nikolaus Harnoncourt conducted his ensemble, the Concentus Musicus Wien, performing the Salzburg Festival’s first-ever performance of Die Zauberflöte on period instruments.