I was back at the Four Seasons Centre last night to have another look at the COC’s Die Walküre. The big news, which I heard pretty much as soon as I arrived, was that cover Issachah Savage would be singing Siegmund in place of an indisposed Clifton Forbis. This time, unlike last Saturday when he also sang, this was very much a last minute call. The reviews and the word on the street, and from my companion for the evening who had seen him in Seattle when he won the International Wagner Competition last year had been very positive so I was very interested to hear him. Clearly word had got out about his Saturday performance because when the announcement was made in the hall there was a curious ambiguous noise not at all like the collective sigh that usually greets such news.
To be brief, he lived up to expectations. He has a genuine young dramatic tenor voice. There’s no hint of baritonality but rather a clearness and sweetness of tone that is pure tenor. He’s not short on power either and really rang out when required to be dramatic like in the “Walse, walse” passage. It’s going to be very interesting to see how he develops over the next few years.
As for second thoughts on the production, I enjoyed it more than I did on opening night. I still think Act 1 is too dark and static but the flashback scene, acted under red lights upstage, is quite effective, Act 2 looked better from the Third Ring than it did from lower down. Without the foreshortening effect of being prettty much at stage level it opens up a bit and what is going on is easier to decipher. I could actually see what was happening with Wotan and his mysterious spade this time around. I’d still describe the production as serviceable rather than enlightening though. The singing was, across the board, extremely fine again and Christine Goerke is worth the price of admission. The orchestra once more shone and I was confirmed in my growing opinion that in Johannes Debus we have an emerging Wagnerian of real stature.
One beef though. Why does the Canadian Opera Company schedule operas this long in the February slot? There was an Extreme Cold Warning overnight Thursday/Friday (that means windchill worse than -30C) which can’t be easy on singers and it means the audience gets dumped out in foul temperatures round about the point at which public transport is dropping off to night time service levels. No wonder a house that was full when the curtain went up was looking a bit spotty when it finally fell.