The Wagner Society of New York recently offered a pay-for-view Masterclass conducted by renowned American heldentenor Stephen Gould. Now that film is available for free on the Society’s channel on YouTube and it is unmissable.
Perhaps his generation’s Siegfried, Gould works with three young artists (themselves of phenomenal talent and skill) to assist with the interpretation and execution of that role as well as Eric, Tristan, Florestan and others. It is fascinating to watch his compassionate mixture of support and guidance. Taking part in the event were Jeremy Brauner, Errin Duane Brooks and Mauricio Trejo
The core of the intrigue lies in Gould’s own insights. How does one really get through the title role in Siegfried? Gould explains that it calls for three kinds of voices — a front-of-the-mouth recitative for the scenes with Mime, a romantic lyrical long-phrased beauty for the second act forest scene and the third act discovery of Brünnhilde, and a classic dramatic tenor for the forging scene. Try “singing” the first half hour, he says, and you will not get to the last half hour.
Gould is Bayreuth’s current Tristan, and his recording with Nina Stemme is deservedly acclaimed. His interpretive insights into the role are profound, making a problematic narrative entirely lucid. Concentrating on the end of Act II, Gould posits that Tristan has suffered from suicidal ideation his entire life. When he was under Isolde’s care and opened his eyes, he hoped she would kill him. When he drank the potion he hoped it was lethal. And when he addresses Melot his hope is to taunt his friend to strike him dead. Add to this insight where the voice is placed when replying to Marke, when addressing Isolde… it is all simply jaw-dropping.
This is a long visit — a bit over two hours. But it is professionally recorded and the pearls come one after the other. Do yourself a New Year’s favor and watch it.