The season of Die Walküre at the Opéra Bastille is more than halfway through as of yesterday evening. I celebrated the occasion by turning traitor and descending into the depths, not of Nibelheim, but of the Musée d'Orsay, for a concert by Bernarda Fink and the Academy of Ancient Music. More on that anon (short version: it was wonderful) but by way of recouping some of my lost Wagnerian Brownie Points, here's a particularly excellent chunk of Walküre for you.
Oh, Eva Maria, Eva-Maria. My favourite Sieglinde. Truly excellent Siegmunding from Cliff Forbis, too; you see, even I, with my all consuming biases, am not completely deaf to other contenders. In fact I should point that my own personal Siegmund, himself not exactly shabby at the whole "Ein Schwert..." business, rates Cliffs "Wälse"s at the Met in 2008 among the most thrilling he's ever heard. "Better than yours?" I ask, disbelievingly. "Better," he insists. "With daylight in between." Tenors don't do false modesty, so that's some seriously high praise.
Speaking of Ms Westbroek, I discovered today – late to the party as ever – that the fine folks at La Monnaie have made her recent Manon Lescaut available to stream in its entirety. I've just watched it, and while the production – which sets the action in a present-day subway station and in which Manon may well be nothing more than a series of projected late night fantasies from the obsessive brain of a businessman Des Grieux – is probably not everybody's cup of tea, it has some very clever moments and, above all, a veritable flood of fabulous singing from Eva-Maria. It's nice to see something halfway plausible and sympathetic made of Des Grieux, too, sung here by Brandon Jovanovich. The video is available until March 4th. Recommended.