Saturday, April 25, 2015


Few singers ever approach this repertoire, but George London had the vocal power, musicality, and emotional capacity to transform this closing scene of Wagner's Die Walküre into an emotionally overwhelming and stirring experience. 

In this scene, Wotan (a Norse god) is duty bound to punish his disobedient, yet favorite daughter, Brünnhilde, by putting her into a deep and long sleep. Conflicted and tormented by his love for her and his duty, he sings some of the most heart-rending and emotionally challenging passages in all of musical literature. Beneath London's rich and dark voice you can hear the horns; tubas and trombones, and the huge string section swell; the orchestrations here are sweeping and massive. 
Ultimately, in the story, he surrounds his sleeping daughter by a ring of fire so that only the bravest of heroes may save her. He knows he will never see her again - the conflicting expressions of loss and tragedy wrapped in tenderness is deeply affecting. 
London, whose career was tragically cut short by a heart attack that left him partially paralyzed, is nothing short of magnificent.

Disclaimer: I know this won't speak to the majority of you; at the very mention of Wagner, or The Ring Cycle, eyes glaze over and more than two thirds of any audience becomes instantaneously disinterested - most won't listen simply because of its length, but this performance of this grandaddy of operatic repertoire is vocal artistry and music-making of the absolute highest order.