REVIEW: The Mastersingers, St Botolph's Church Hall, 30th September 2017

We have seen the Mastersingers present masterclasses before, but this was something different. As David Edwards explained in his engaging introduction, this was an attempt to show us the production process, "a glimpse into how we put a scene together", to see how the producer and Music Director work together and how the singers respond (or not!). He stressed that first production rehearsals like this one do not generally take place before an audience.

The scene being rehearsed was the Todesverkundigung (Annunciation of Death) scene from Die Walküre, which he chose because it is the pivotal scene in the Ring, the first interaction between gods and mortals when Brünnhilde meets her mortal half-brother Siegmund for the first time. He commented that their interaction is fascinating because she knows that they are siblings but he does not. The singers were embarking upon this material for the first time. Edwards had never met them before or knew what they could do, although they had already rehearsed the music with Lionel Friend, who presided at the piano.

On this evidence, the Mastersingers should hold onto both these singers for further initiation into the mysteries of Wagner. Rebecca Godley, who was new to me, has a wonderfully strong and full voice. This scene employs the lowest part of the soprano register which suited her dark tones admirably, and she displayed a keen dramatic instinct. Elliot Goldie, turning freelance after 15 years in the Royal Opera chorus (during which I remember him creating a tremendous stir among the audience with his few phrases as the Captain in Simon Boccanegra) has a massive, baritonally-tinged voice which has clear heldentenor potential and could have been custom built for Siegmund's music. To begin with I could sense that he was holding back, but later, as the voice relaxed and unfurled, he fairly made the rafters ring to thrilling effect. With suitable Wagnerian training, it is easy to imagine either of these singers finding a place at Longborough and beyond.

Katie Barnes

A longer review can be found in edition 259 of our magazine Harmony