September 26, 2009
Los Angeles Opera's new Achim Freyer production of Wagner's Siegfried opens this afternoon. I won't be seeing it until the closing performance of this run, on October 17, but favorable reports (and rumors of an amusing toy dragon) have already emerged from the dress rehearsal via Out West Arts and Alan Rich's happily returned SoI'veHeard. (Alan's post also discloses that the promised live recording of the LA Philharmonic's world premiere of Arvo Pärt’s Fourth Symphony ("Los Angeles") from this past January will finally see release via iTunes next month).
LAO has not released any video thus far from its Siegfried, so I will fill the gap with two prior tellings of the tale. First up, Siegfried defeats a thirsty dragon -- not a transformed Fafnir, since this version is adapted by Thea von Harbau from the Nibelungenlied rather than from Wagner -- in Fritz Lang's 1924 Siegfrieds Tod.
By way of contrast with Lang's impressive-for-their-day physical effects, this next video shows off a 2008 production of Wagner's Siegfried staged in Valencia, Spain, by director Carlus Padrissa and the Catalan theatrical group La Fura del Baus, with hyper-elaborate video projections by Franc Aleu. Zubin Mehta conducts. It is difficult to say whether this production ultimately tromped on or deferred to Wagner -- the former is probable, given its apparent Mad Scientist overtones -- but as sheer eye-poppery (in conjunction with That Music) it does not fail to impress:
This is best appreciated at full size and in high definition on Vimeo, here, where it was posted by Martin Inda, who handled video post-production on the project. Oooo, sparkly.
Illustration: a conventional sort of a Siegfried in Opera Stories from Wagner by Florence Akin (1915).