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Nibelung Ring in New York Part 1: Das Rheingold

Certainly one of Opera's costliest and spectacular productions is on this system again. For the third and – it is stated – last time: Robert Lepage's manufacturing of Wagner's Nibelung's Ring to the Metropoitan Opera in New York. It could possibly be seen for the primary time in 2010, was restored in the 2012-13 season, and now again in April-Might 2019, the place all three cycles are completely bought out.

All the things bought out

Pure spectacle just isn’t, despite the fact that the core of Lepage's manufacturing is a big steel shell, the “machine”, consisting of a collection of slats with rotating and bending projecting surfaces and illuminated to type the varied places in which the ring takes place.

The thought is that each one websites should evolve, emerge and seem as an natural entire. Exactly the identical approach Wagner's music develops organically, a number of small fragments (motifs). For example, in the beginning with the deep Es major arpeggios illustrating the creation of the world and the water of the Rhine, which lead immediately into the harmless track of the three rhino daughters, before evil enters the world in the form of the mad Alberich and his purification of nature's purity.

All this was explained to a lecture by Gundula Kreutzer, Affiliate Professor, on the Division of Music at Yale University, who, underneath the title Machines and the Ring: Richard Wagner's Technological Conundrum, talked about Wagner's relationship with theater know-how in relation to his concepts of a “Gesamtkunstwerk” that built-in all artwork types into one. In this connection Wagner backed a lot with the scenic appearance of his works, giving, for example, extremely precise instructions on when and how the curtain should go up and down. Which aspect it ought to go to and how briskly. For example, it apprehensive him quite a bit if one needed to lower the curtain between two scenes, because it destroyed the natural entire and interrupted the dramatic unity of the art work. For example, the shift from the stage at the Rhine to the stage with the gods on the prime of the mountain in the Rhinguld. The solution at the premiere in Bayreuth in 1876 was specifically to envelop the scene in water vapor – from two discarded locomotive boilers situated properly away from the festive playhouse – and in this manner let the 2 scenes slide organically into each other.

Lepage and his individuals take Wagner on the ground and create a set design the place every little thing might be developed from the identical core, the concrete machine that may be shaped into all parts of the work. Till the repertoire here in 2019, Lepage and his individuals have spent virtually a yr fine-tuning the machine. Although the properly over 40 tons heavy machine is moved with a hydraulic system, it is arranged in order that on the most central locations where the motion have to be organic and nice, it is moved with rope pull and hand drive behind the stage.

The end result might in all probability simply have turn out to be immensely clumsy, but at the least for the first day's development of the Rhinestone, it appeared utterly meant, now to say the least. The in any other case very giant metallic machinery appeared virtually tender as butter and multiplied effortlessly to both the Rhine water, the gods' mountain prime, the creepy Nibelheim and the rainbow bridge eventually.

The three rhine daughters play and play innocently in the clear blue waters of the Rhine. Evil has not but entered the world. Photograph: Metropolitan Opera. From the website mentioned under.

It was a pleasure to see how the three rhine daughters truly swam utterly free in the center of the stage room, simply as they have been in the water (see photograph). A lot for the small print was that bubbles came out of their mouths to the music once they sang. Though it was in all probability “just” made with video projections on the background, the effect was extraordinarily convincing. The bubbles moved along once they swam around. Of different particulars, it must be emphasised that it had succeeded in making the ambiguous demigod, Loge, he definitely seemed like a flaming hearth operating across the stage.

Wotan and Loge heading down into the dark Nibelheim to get the horrible ring from Alberich. Photograph: Metropolitan Opera. From the web site talked about under.

On the scenographic entrance, probably the most spectacular, nevertheless, was Loge and Wotan's descent to Nibelheim, to get the ring from the nasty Nibelunge, Alberich, before it's too late. Here, the machine simply shaped into a large staircase that went by means of the stage room. Starting vertical and sloping horizontally (see photograph). How exactly it had made it in order that Wotan and Loge might stroll on the vertical falls in the direction of the dangerously mild, I have no idea, however it appeared lovely. The gods went up an virtually vertical rainbow bridge at the end.

Scenographically, there’s thus nothing to show to Lepage's production from here! There’s full foreign money for the large sums which were used to develop the machine. Preserved, sometimes you can hear the machinery squeak and complain a bit, so that you have been reminded that it wasn't all actual. Nevertheless it was not sufficient to dispute that it absolutely succeeded in realizing a set design that was absolutely built-in with the music and that would form it.

It should comply with from the above that the setup in any respect was conventional in the sense that it adhered to the publication and had no other ambition than to comprehend Wagner's concepts and drama about man's wrestle towards the gods (and towards himself) on it approach he meant. The costumes have been similarly based mostly on sketches for Wagner's first Ring from 1876 in a lighter, up to date type.

I stay here as in Odense final yr on the similar time confirmed in that Wagner's works simply seem greatest and strongest if you keep on with the publishing home. Simply because, every part – music, textual content, scenography and so forth. – is assumed into one massive, musical dramatic entire. It’s subsequently to not move the action to a different time, or to let the characters be anything than they are.

All of it had, in fact, just been empty energy searching, if not music and music had been prime notch, which it was, in fact, and what you possibly can and will anticipate from one of the world's best opera orchestras, the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. The conductor stick was in good arms with Swiss Philippe Jordan, who had chosen a surprisingly fast interpretation of the Rhinguld.

Jordan has on earlier events said that Wagner's music is usually played much slower than it was the composer's intention. He isn’t the one one to consider this. The German conductor Hartmut Haenchen, who specializes in the works of Wagner and Strauss in specific, has the same views, as he said, among different things, when he directed Parsifal in the newest setup at The Royal Theater (in all probability in 2013). It's not a subject I have robust opinions about. So far as Parsifal is worried, I’ve to admit that I’ve various sluggish interpretations. It works quite properly to play the game slowly, no matter what the intention was. Totally different with the Rhinguld. Right here it worked just high-quality with Jordan's quicker type. The ring is, in any case, a piece with incredibly progressive motion that is continually evolving. Parsifal is proven stagnant.

Thankfully, the singer front was also well-occupied. Once more: It each can and must be anticipated. Even proper in the smaller events, there were wonderful singers, beginning and ending with the three Rhine daughters, and their deadly verdict on the gods who carefree crossing the rainbow bridge towards Valhal, but whose world order is basically false, as it’s based mostly on a renunciation of love:

“Unhappy and sad is just in the temper:
false and cowardly, was obnoxious to be tempted! “

The innocent – but depressing! – Threesome was charmingly sung by Amanda Woodbury, Samantha Hankey and Tamara Mumford, who additionally convincingly managed to play and play with each other freely floating in the stage room.

Alberich was very strongly sung by the Polish bass baritone Tomasz Konieczny, who, from the true human despair of the three Rhenish daughters' bitter rejection of his rapprochement, to the caustic evils of his brother Mime and the opposite Nibelians he held as slaves. The interaction between him and the three women was, in common, worked out and credible, although much of it is kind of free floating in the air.

Metropolitan Opera, like Odense in the fjord, had secured the tenor Gerhard Siegel to the get together as Mime, which this time was additionally very well-chosen based mostly on the few strains this character has in the Rhinguld. I'm already wanting ahead to listening to him in Siegfried.

Likewise, the 2 giants, Fasolt and Fafner, unexpectedly create the effort of the gods by demanding the love goddess Freia as a salary for having built Valhal. That is clearly only obvious, as a result of the conflict has already been established when the opera begins, because the super-god Wotan has been insane enough to vow her away in return for building the fort. They have been both sung excellently by the German bass Günther Groissböck and the Polish bass Dmitry Belosselskiy respectively. The former (Fasolt) is probably the most human of the two, whereas Fafner is the chilly and computational. It’s also Fafner who needs to surrender Freia towards as an alternative of getting Alberich's ring as a wage for the construction work.

The younger gods (Freia, Froh and Donner) have been also finely obsessed and radiated applicable youthful naivety each in their music and in their gestures. Greatest have been Freia (Wendy Bryn Harmer) and Donner (Michael Todd Simpson). Froh has virtually no strains to sing. Bryn Harmer was convincing as a terrifying woman on the run from the two fighters, whereas Todd Simphson shone in the ending passage where he cleans the air and evokes the rainbow bridge with a blow together with his hammer.

The get together just like the goddess Erda was properly given to Karen Cargill, whose dark-colored mezzo-soprano is strictly what this somewhat mysterious character requires to be convincing.

The half-god Loge was well-groomed and cunning in the form of the Austrian tenor Norbert Ernst. As already mentioned, it was attainable to make it in order that he truly seemed like hearth that flamed across the stage. He additionally works right here as a fireplace god.

Greatest on stage, nevertheless, was (fortuitously!) Michael Volle in the good and decisive social gathering like the good god Wotan, who nonetheless believes he has management of the world he is set to rule. In fact, he gets wiser. But until he resigns, he should sound robust and energetic, which Volle definitely did with tonight's greatest performance. Also the interplay with the cumbersome – however lifelike – spouse Fricka worked impeccably. It often happens to be in the interaction between the 2 that setups many occasions stand a bit of quiet. Incidentally, Fricka was very convincingly sung by the Georgian mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, who had a voice so highly effective and characterful that it might simply put an excess in place.

Concerning the high quality of singers and music, there’s hardly room for much discussion that in New York in April 2019 you’ve gotten managed to collect something near the absolute best right now. Conversely, should you like Lepage's machine and natural holistic considering, that is in all probability one other space where there’s more room for discussion. I might do this though! And it’s subsequently virtually unimaginable not to be each pleased and glad with a really profitable setup of the Rhinguld, which is in any other case the one of the four operas in the Nibelung's Ring that is the hardest to handle and which not often leaves an enduring impression. Nevertheless, it made it Monday, April 29, 2019

Richard Wagner, Das Rheingold. Metropolitan Opera on April 29, 2019

references

Website of the performance with footage, video clips, articles and so forth.

https://www.metopera.org/season/2018-19-season/das-rheingold/

Gundula Kreutzer, Machines and the Ring: Richard Wagner's Technological Conundrum (lecture held in Metropolitan Opera on April 30, 2019. The content material of the lecture is shown mainly based mostly on her guide on the same subject, Curtain, Gong Steam – Wagnerian Technoligies of Nineteenth- Century Opera (2018)

Jay Goodwin, Rise of the Machine (2018). Website posting, see above

Jay Goodwin, Love is a Battlefield (2018). Interview with Christine Goerke. Take a look at the website above.

Mary Joe Warmth, Marathon Man. Interview with Philippe Jordan. Program article. See also the website above.

The mentioned set-up of the Nibelung's Ring has, as talked about, been arrange earlier than. And so it already exists on DVD and blu-ray:

https://www.danacordbutik.dk/product_info.php?products_id=7714

It can be seen by way of the Metropolitan Opera's streaming service. Her Das Rheingold:

https://www.metopera.org/season/on-demand/opera/?upc=811357015513

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