Going back to Valhalla's threshold for Scene 4, Owens delivers his best moments as he expresses his shame at being bound and shackled before his slaves. I haven't seen this discussed in anyone else's reviews or commentary, but I have to add my own thought that this scene has a heightened power and poignancy because Owens is black and Terfel looks like a redneck straight out of a horror movie. We've seen this scene in many other guises, but here, especially in the current political climate in this country, I can't get say there's no meta commentary to be found here if you want to look for it. Patrica Bardon's Erda, the most unthankful role in all of opera, was spot on from her first note through her last, though in HD the weird red/pink make-up around her eyes made me wonder why they wanted to make Erda a blonde Morticia Addams.
I found the only moment where James Levine's conducting let me down was the conclusion of Alberich's curse on whomever wears the ring- oddly, here the orchestra lacked enough power to make those terrifying bars sound as terrifying as they ought. Otherwise, I'd have to say Levine (who looked terrific) and the orchestra were fantastic from start to finish with Levine usually opting for faster tempos than he's chosen in the past which never sounded rushed, an bringing everything in Wagner's score to a shimmering glow through the entire afternoon.
Dwayne Croft's Donner was certainly a bit of luxury casting and having a mature singer of his caliber in this smaller role brought a depth to it not usually seen in Rheingold. He too, was superb, and if his hammer blow wasn't as thrilling a moment as one could have hoped from a dramatic point, he sung his part with a confidence and conviction the role never gets when filled by younger singers as is the usual.
By now everyone who cares about these things already knows that on opening night there was a glitch which prevented the Machine to work as planned, thus the gods' entry into Valhalla via the Rainbow Bridge was aborted or abandoned. It's hard to have any sympathy for the opening night crowd ,but in this case I actually do because they didn't get to experience what was in my mind the finest bit of stagecraft I've ever seen. Like the Rhine scene, I can't imagine Wagner himself thinking it could be done better than this. It was beautiful, breathtaking, and the most thrilling execution of the myriad challenges posed in adhering to the Ring's crazy stage demands. The final ten minutes alone was well worth the price of admission, but I found the entire production on the whole to be greatly satisfying, though not earth-shaking. It represents the cutting of what can be done on the opera stage, even if it doesn't have the intelligence or depth of the Freyer Ring nor the brilliant imagination on display in Lepage's own debut production for the Met, La Damnation de Faust.
One last comment. The schedule for the remaining broadcasts doesn't include a dud in the bunch. I was apprehensive about the whole idea of attending these screenings, but having now done so, the quality of the sound, the staggeringly brilliant camerawork and the immediacy of watching a live performance as it takes place make this method of presentation well worthwhile. I'll be seeing many more of these broadcasts this season.