Richard Wagner’s innovative exploration of the female heroine (Heldin), is presented here in a collection of his most famous arias inspired by Germanic, Norse and Celtic mythology. Wagner invented the concept of “larger than life” Helden singers for whom he composed huge, long, demanding roles for both women and men. By contrast, Richard Strauss drew his inspiration from the bible through Oscar Wilde’s diabolical satire, Salome. Strauss expanded the palette by increasing the sheer number of instrumental forces within the orchestra to fully embody the vile, sexual nature, and treachery of the female villain and her lust for manipulation and vengeance.
Juyeon Song, hailed for her dramatic stage presence and expressivity, demonstrates her exceptional range and intensity in richly rendered characters; forceful Brünnhilde, chaste daughter and faithful servant of Wotan, king of the gods; Isolde, tragic heroine in the medieval romantic story of love and death; and, Salome, the young politico-sexual powerhouse who demanded the severed head of John the Baptist, and caused King Herod to sin against God in retribution for the prophet’s rebuke of her affections.
In this exciting new release, Ms. Song chills and thrills the listener with her capacious vocal power, emotional sensitivity and sincerity, and visceral cathexis throughout. The Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra Ostrava, led by eminent maestro Niels Muus, is superb in its balance, dynamic contrast, and dramatic realization of these magnificent scores.