Never before has the momentous Wagner opera The Valkyrie (Die Walküre) been performed in concert with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.
Simon O'Neill. Photo by Fraser Harding.
An international stellar cast of singers and full symphony orchestra, featuring more than 100 musicians, will join forces this July to bring you the ground-breaking music of Richard Wagner’s epic music drama – The Valkyrie (Die Walküre).
Full of love, abandonment, infidelity, and incest, The Valkyrie is the second of four operas that form the cycle The Ring of the Nibelung (Der Ring des Nibelungen). It features some of Wagner’s most memorable music, including the popular excerpt Ride of the Valkyries. In fact, you may have already heard this masterpiece used in films such as Apocalypse Now (when the Air Cavalry regiment plays it through loudspeakers during a helicopter attack) or even on a New Zealandtelevision advertising campaign featuring a toilet and a duck!?
Despite its frequent use in popular culture, Wagner developed this epic tale of gods and men from Norse mythology. So, we invited none other than the crème de la crème of New Zealand and international singers to represent these dramatic characters in this once-in-a-lifetime opera in concert with your national orchestra.
Helden baritone John Wegner is no stranger to the role of Wotan, King of the gods, with an impressive six seasons at Bayreuth Festival – the spiritual home of Wagner’s music. He finds his match in the dramatic prowess of Margaret Medlyn’s Fricka. Internationally-renowned Wagnerian tenor Simon O’Neill returns home to sing the demanding role of Siegmund – one he has already performed at the Royal Opera House and La Scala - and the exquisite soprano Edith Haller is Sieglinde, who was first heard in this role at the 2010 Bayreuth Festival. Dramatic soprano superstar, and prestigious Richard Tucker award recipient, Christine Goerke will be an indomitable force singing the role of Brünnhilde, and in the role of Hunding is another shining star – the charismatic New Zealander Jonathan Lemalu, whose rich, resonant bass makes him an audience favourite.
Supported by an astounding hoard of eight “Valkiwis” (Valkyries who are all Kiwis), and backed by a super-sized New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, including three harps, four French Horns, four Wagner Tubas, a contrabass trombone, bass trumpet, steerhorn, and even a thunder machine, this extraordinary musical event, conducted by critically acclaimed Music Director Pietari Inkinen, will be cherished and remembered for years to come.
Wagner’s epic tale of gods and men will grab you by the horns and not let you go. Well, not for five hours and 40 minutes that is (including two intervals). So book your meals with us, bring a cushion, escape from the cold, and prepare for an unforgettable musical memory with the NZSO.
You simply can’t miss this rare opportunity to hear the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in The Valkyrie, in memory of Lloyd Morrison, with support from the Wagner Society of New Zealand and the Wagner New Zealand Foundation.
Renowned New Zealand bass-baritone Roger Wilson will give a free 30-minute talk in all three centres, 45-minutes prior to each performance. For more details about each NZSO pre-concert talk, visit www.nzso.co.nz/.
Simon O’Neill Siegmund
Lauded as the Wagnerian tenor of his generation, New Zealander Simon O’Neill is a principal artist with the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden and the Bayreuth Festival. His 2010 recording with the NZSO of Wagnerian arias, Father and Son, attracted glowing international praise and earned a rare double five-star review from the prestigious BBC Music Magazine.
Edith Haller Sieglinde
The Italian soprano reprises the role of Sieglinde with the NZSO after recent debuts at the Bayreuth Festival and the Vienna State Opera, were she was described as “simply sensational... erotic, seductive and passionate” in performance (Der Opernfreund). Acclaimed for her sparkling vocal qualities and expressive power, one critic declared her “the new discovery par excellence as Sieglinde” at Bayreuth. She has appeared in major opera houses, including Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Teatro Real Madrid and the state opera houses of Munich and Hamburg.
Christine Goerke Brünnhilde
Soprano Christine Goerke has appeared in the major opera houses of the world including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, the Paris Opera House and the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. She is a Grammy Award winner of whom a New York Times’ critic wrote that “her powerful voice, technique, and honest passion are always good to hear. The pleasure she takes in the act of singing is communicable”.
John Wegner Wotan
John Wegner has forged an impressive international career and performs regularly in leading opera houses, including La Scala, Royal Opera House and Bayreuth. His interpretation of Wotan was once declared “intolerably moving”, balancing the athleticism and power demanded by the role with a peerless expressive ability.
Jonathan Lemalu Hunding
New Zealand-born Samoan bass-baritone Jonathan Lemalu is deservedly an audience favourite for his stage presence, star quality and velvet-rich voice, once described by The Times as "a singer who hooks an audience even before opening his mouth”.
Margaret Medlyn Fricka
Acclaimed New Zealand soprano Margaret Medlyn has sung for a host of leading international opera companies including English National Opera, Covent Garden, Vienna State Opera and all the opera companies in Australia. She is lauded not only for her compelling musicality but also her nuanced acting ability and dramatic stage charisma.