Discussion:
Another Ring recording in English
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Bert Coules
2018-06-10 10:57:50 UTC
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The excellent Opera Depot is advertising a 1977 Ring in Andrew Porter's
translation: Margaret Kingsley as Brünnhilde, James McCray as Siegfried,
Raimund Herincx as Wotan, Simon Estes as Hagen, Lorna Haywood as Sieglinde
and Ticho Parly as Loge. The conductor is Henry Holt, which presumably
means that this is the famous Seattle production.

Available on CD or (cheaper) as MP3 or FLAC downloads, the samples on the
site sound pretty good and the whole thing is at half the usual price for
the next seven days.

https://operadepot.com/products/wagner-der-ring-des-nibelungen-english-kingsley-mccray-simon-estes-raimund-herincx-lorna-haywood-henry-holt

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Bert Coules
2018-06-10 11:03:14 UTC
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I should have said that the site mentions several cuts. I didn't know the
Seattle Rings were shortened.
Mike Scott Rohan
2018-06-10 17:34:55 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
I should have said that the site mentions several cuts. I didn't know the
Seattle Rings were shortened.
Seattle, all right, and thank you very much, Bert; this is very interesting. I wasn't at these particular performances, but in the year before they definitely were not cut. I was interested to see a really stinking review of these performances by Harold C. Schonberg in the NY Times, chiefly directed at the Porter translation (he liked some of the singers); but he'd surely have seized on cuts as well. I'd assume that these were local broadcasts, therefore, and probably cut by the station. Southern TV used to do that with their Glyndebourne broadcasts, which is why the DVDs of Idomeneo and Ritorno d'Ulisse are so truncated.

I haven't looked up the entire cast yet, but it's interesting, not least for Herincx, who was very undervalued generally -- incredibly versatile singer. I believe he only died quite recently. Margaret Kingsley I remember stepping in for Helga Dernesch in Scottish Opera's Walkure, quite a contrast as she was a tiny little butterball, but not at all bad. Estes never stuck me as having enough low-register power for Hagen. Parly by this time had rather a strange tone which made him the most demented Peter Grimes I ever heard, but lots of character, which might work well as Loge. My main reservation would be Holt's conducting, never brilliant; but I think I may order them up, partly for nostalgia but also the interest of hearing the translation sans Goodall.

Cheers,

Mike
Bert Coules
2018-06-10 20:55:32 UTC
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Post by Mike Scott Rohan
I was interested to see a really stinking review
of these performances by Harold C. Schonberg
in the NY Times, chiefly directed at the Porter translation...
Did he criticise the translation itself or what he opposed to the basic idea
of an English version?
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
I'd assume that these were local broadcasts, therefore,
and probably cut by the station.
I had no idea that any radio station would impose their own cuts. In most
cases it would surely be tricky to make them anything less than jarring,
even to a listener who didn't know the work well.
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
...Herincx, who was very undervalued generally.
He was always imposing and with excellent diction, though for me at least
his ENO Ring appearances did suffer slightly because Bailey was so vivid a
memory. It didn't help that Herincx once remarked to me, completely out of
the blue, "You know, it's wonderful being a world-class Wotan!". He also
changed a key line in the Porter Valkyrie translation, to (to my mind)
fairly disastrous effect. But not a performer to be lightly dismissed, I
agree.

You can hear a sample of Parly's Loge on the Opera Depot site. He's
perfectly OK, but being surrounded by native English speakers doesn't do him
any favours.

The MP3 download strikes me as a bargain at the equivalent of just over £20.
Mike Scott Rohan
2018-06-12 11:53:03 UTC
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Post by Bert Coules
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
I was interested to see a really stinking review
of these performances by Harold C. Schonberg
in the NY Times, chiefly directed at the Porter translation...
Did he criticise the translation itself or what he opposed to the basic idea
of an English version?
The idea. He was complimentary enough about the actual translation (more so in a later piece), but wholly condemned the use of it, claiming it distorted the music, without specifying how. His criticisms were vague enough otherwise, but basically boiled down to "I can't make out all the words". I might have pointed out that he almost certainly couldn't in German either, he just noticed it less. He claimed that it couln't be working because so many of the audience seemed to be relying on the printed synopses, but that simply means there were a lot of relative newcomers in the audience -- who might naturally get seats for the English cycle, which were more readily available. There was an immense amount of snobbery among American critics and audiences about the English-language performances, even though the singers were usually the same. I think it led newcomers to think that they were somehow being sold second-best, hearing supposedly authoritative figures claiming the German ones were somehow more "authentic" --so much so that the English ones never sold out and were eventually abandoned.
Post by Bert Coules
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
I'd assume that these were local broadcasts, therefore,
and probably cut by the station.
I had no idea that any radio station would impose their own cuts. In most
cases it would surely be tricky to make them anything less than jarring,
even to a listener who didn't know the work well.
Remember this is the country that built ad breaks into the Met Ring broadcast, and truncated more than one radio 'cast because it was overrunning into sponsor's time. But that's just a suggestion, because I would be surprised if Seattle had done it themselves; even then it was very much against their ethos. The more so, because it wasn't uncommon elsewhere in the US. The late David Ward inveighed against a much-praised San Francisco Ring he appeared in, because it was cut (and a Canadian one, too). Another poster here very kindly sent me a copy of that 'cast, and it was indeed. As late as the 80s a Rheingold somewhere southern had an interval inserted -- during the anvils. Seattle was very much against that sort of thing; if they did cut anything it would surely be in an emergency, for a replacement singer or something.
Post by Bert Coules
Post by Mike Scott Rohan
...Herincx, who was very undervalued generally.
He was always imposing and with excellent diction, though for me at least
his ENO Ring appearances did suffer slightly because Bailey was so vivid a
memory. It didn't help that Herincx once remarked to me, completely out of
the blue, "You know, it's wonderful being a world-class Wotan!". He also
changed a key line in the Porter Valkyrie translation, to (to my mind)
fairly disastrous effect. But not a performer to be lightly dismissed, I
agree.
Well, I could forgive him the pride. Rather a Wotanesque kind of remark, so perhaps it was the role talking! He was certainly good enough to sing Wotan throughout North and South America, and in Europe too, as well as other Wagner roles -- Pogner for Karajan in Salzburg, for example, and of course Hagen, one of the few since Scaria to combine the roles. That, when it was much rarer for UK singers to be accepted in Wagner; the only other international UK Wotan of the day was Ward, Bailey coming along a bit later. Schonberg is particularly complimentary about Herincx.

As to changing the lines, all singers do that -- look at the changes Bailey makes in Porter. Of course, being singers, not writers, they sometimes foul it up. I'd be interested to know what made this one so bad.

But though H was somewhat outsize as a person, he also seems to have been a very good man. As well as teaching at all the major UK music schools and in the US he and his wife fitted out a large barn on his land as a gymnasium and centre for disabled children, letting them have fun with musical instruments, and when he retired worked as a voice therapist, especially with cancer victims.
Post by Bert Coules
You can hear a sample of Parly's Loge on the Opera Depot site. He's
perfectly OK, but being surrounded by native English speakers doesn't do him
any favours.
I've spoken to him, and his English was actually better even than most Scands, because he'd spent about ten years as a travel agent in New York. But he did enunciate it rather oddly when he sang. Mind you, so did Emile Belcourt with his Canadian-French. Loge as the eternal outsider...
Post by Bert Coules
The MP3 download strikes me as a bargain at the equivalent of just over £20.
All very reasonable... Again, thanks for putting us onto it!

Cheers,

Mike
Bert Coules
2018-06-12 14:26:05 UTC
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Mike, it sounds as though Mr Schonberg was repeating the standard
objections, though he seems to have omitted "the over-riding importance of
the *sound* of the German". Your brief counter-argument would have nicely
deflated him (or actually probably wouldn't, given the picture you paint of
his firmness of view.

The snobbery is to be found here too, of course. And the ENO didn't exactly
help squash the audibility objection when they decided to add their
surtitling, which surely had the contrary effect of relieving people of even
*trying* to hear the words.

I know someone whose very first encounter with the Ring was on Channel 4 TV,
complete with ad breaks. They were bowled over by the piece and found
nothing particularly upsetting about the interruptions. I think I've heard
of several Rheingolds with an added interval, presumably to the benefit of
the bar takings.

My adverse reaction to Raimund Herincx's declared pride in his Wotanesque
status was, I admit, distinctly coloured by another very recent encounter.
This, as with Herincx, was in the BBC's central music (ie scores) library,
where I was working at the time. I'd served a quiet-spoken, rather
distinguished looking gent with something or other and as I prepared to
issue the music to him he said, "Oh, you'll need my name. It's Pears.
Peter Pears". Now that's how a star should behave.

With the caveat that it was a long time ago and I might not have the
absolutely exact details (though the gist of this is certainly correct -
there was a distinct buzz about it afterwards among the hard-core ENO Ring
regulars) this was Herincx's Porter rewrite:

PORTER: Only the man who braves my spear-point can pass through this sea of
flames!

HERINCX: He who my shining spear-point feareth shall never pass through
this fire!

Perhaps I was (and am) over-sensitive about fidelity to the text, but for me
that sudden (and isolated) descent into the world of H&F Corder or Jameson
was a horrible, mood-destroying moment.

But I accept of course that many singers feel free to play and loose with
translations, and yes, Bailey was one such. And I'm truly delighted to
learn about Herincx's good works.

Bert
Bert Coules
2018-06-12 14:30:13 UTC
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...*fast* and loose, dammit. Apologies.

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