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Met Has Superlative Cast in ‘Walkure’

October 26, 1987

NEW YORK (AP) _ The Metropolitan Opera has put together a superlative cast for Wagner’s ″Die Walkure,″ which makes the opera worth staging and should make audiences clamor to attend it. The Met now even has that rarity, a Wagnerian tenor.

In Gary Lakes, Met audiences are hearing the best heldentenor (heroic tenor) since the young Jon Vickers. His voice is big and provides volume with sufficient breath support so there’s no strain.

He sustains the long role of Siegmund without tiring. Lake’s voice is luminous, a quality more often found in women’s voices.

And, though he can shade his voice to convey emotions, Lakes does not make his voice soft-centered with emotion. He remained a heldentenor from first note to last at the first Met performance of ″Die Walkure″ this season on Saturday.

Jeannine Altmeyer, who sang Sieglinde, has a voice like clarified honey. Hildegard Behrens, as Brunnhilde, looked like Wonderwoman, in her coral chiffon overlaid with armor. Though she sounded girlish at times, her voice rang with as much silver as her armor.

Aage Haugland, a Dane, was a vocally authoritative Hunding. Even when he was angry at his wife Sieglinde, he sounded musical.

Hans Sotin is singing Wotan in the first three operas in Wagner’s Ring cycle. He didn’t command the stage as some Wotans have done and his upper register is not as strong as his lower register.

Gail Gilmore, singing Fricka, Wotan’s wife, for the first time at the Met, has a distinctive voice, seemingly ethereal and from another realm.

Five of the eight Valkyries were making their Met debuts. They are sopranos Gail Tremitiere, Penelope Daner and Pyramid Sellers and mezzo-sopranos Joan Khara and Patricia McCaffrey.

Lakes, who is from Woodward, Okla., filled in for other tenors last season as Samson in ″Samson et Dalila″ and Don Jose in ″Carmen.″ Siegmund was his first scheduled majored part. Next summer he’ll sing the same role in Beyreuth, Germany.

Conductor James Levine took care not to drown out the singers. But his attention to each note created a tempo which made five hours feel like more.

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