Die Götterdämmerung concluded last night the SF Opera's first run though the Ring cycle (part I, part II, part III, two more cycle performances 6/21-26 and 6/28-7/3). We listened to seventeen hours of Wagner, but we have no urge to conquer Poland.We feel sad rather than bellicose: because we got slightly addicted to the music eventually, and because it ends on a desperate lament so beautifully sung by Nina Stemme (Brünnhilde) that we left all teary eyed.
Nina Stemme and the orchestra led by Donald Runnicles were the high points of this cycle, delivering consistently night after night. Last night again, Stemme strong yet malleable voice stood above everyone else. She was so good she made her very able partners sound almost sour and much less passionate. She was the main recurring figure last night, as die Götterdämmering introduces a new cast of characters, and Siegfried (whom she married at the blissful end of Siegfried) had been replaced by a new singer, Ian Storey. Unfortunately for us, he lost his voice in the second act. The joke circulating at the second intermission was that Siegfried had died one act too early.