Post by Mike Scott Rohan Post by Jay Kauffman
Its a long way from Elsa to Brunnhilde and I'm not sure many sopranos really sang both successfully =- e.g. Nilsson was a wonderful Brunnhilde but her Elsa at Bayreuth in 1954 isn't really right and the same goes for Varnay - the voice was a bit unwieldy for Elsa. The role of Elsa is usually cast too lightly but I'm not quite sure a budding Brunnhilde is the next step. Of course there are exceptions e.g Flagstad sang them both beautifully
Indeed, although I always found Flagstad a bit matronly in sound for both, what I've heard of her as Elsa is attractive. But IMHO Elsa belongs to the lighter group of Wagner heroines, as you say. Netrebko impressed me a few years ago at a Berlin concert with Domingo and Villazon, when she ditched the mike and sang straight out into the enormous open-air Waldbuhne auditorium -- and filled it easily. Now I've actually just seen large chunks of her Dresden Elsa (not too bad a production, for today) and she's certainly up to it -- maybe even a little too powerful already. She could manage Elizabeth, I think, and Senta; so perhaps she would become an adequate Brunnhilde before too long, in Walkure and Siegfried at least. However, there are signs the voice is spreading (as indeed, to be a bit ungallant, she is herself) and losing its original purity of tone, which would be s shame. And her acting is pretty externalized, as it was even in her Boheme film; but there's worse around. So it may be worth watching out!
Sorry, meant to add after that bit about "the lighter group" that this means lighter in tonal colour primarily, and only to a lesser extent in vocal power. Unfortunately thst's often ignored and the role taken by clear-voiced sopranos who sound lovely in Euch Luften but can only just about belt out the more heroic passages to unlovely effect. it's not always a disaster; I rather like Karan Armstrong's Elsa on the Bayreuth video opposite Peter Hoffmann, not least because she can act well, and certainly prefer her to the more powerful Eva Marton in the Met video. My ideal, though, would be closer to Karita Mattila, at least as she was when I saw her a few years ago.
Sieglinde often suffers the same fate. Karan Armstrong's Elsa, on the Bayreuth video opposite Hoffman
a remark to the effect that this unfortunately means the role is often grabbed at by sopranos who can only just make it.