Saturday, December 4, 2010

Das Rheingold

Yes I attended my first ring opera two weeks ago. I heard the metropolitan opera stage Das Rheingold. Robert Lepage designed a stage that was spectacular. Many of the singers were suspended and the stage itself allowed them to walk vertically at times. This was particularly good for the god of fire and trickster loge sung beautifully by tenor Richard Croft.

Wagners Ring series is like the Lord of the Rings, there are no cute arias but rather motifs. The opera begins with the Rhine maidens suspended and flapping their flippers singing about the gold when the gnome Alberich sung by Eric Owens appears. He steals the gold and makes a ring (sound familiar) that will give him great power.

Wotan, the chief of gods sung by Bryn Terfel has problems of his own, the giants Fasold and Fafner are demanding payment for constructing Valhalla. Wotan promises his daughter Freia to be wed to one of the giants as payment. Freia is horrified and her mother Fricka sung by Stephanie Blythe intervenes.

The entire opera is like reading a Tolkein novel, you enter into a world of gods, dragons, rings and promises and giants. The giant Fasolt sung by Franz-Josef Selig sings a very touching aria about the fact that Freia gave him light in his dark world.

There is a fantastic scene where Wotan and Loge enter the realm of Alberich, the land of the Nibelung far beneath the earth. You hear the clamour of hammers and anvils as they mine gold for the greedy Alberich who has enslaved them because of the ring.

This was my first taste of a Wagner opera and I loved it. Far from being entertained, or charmed (although I was thrilled by the staging) I was carried away to a land of mythology, with magic fruit that bestowed youth and vigor (I want one), the god of thunder, Donner (brother of Freia who swung his hammer and hit the stage causing lightening to explode in a thunder of music and brass!), Wotan, gnomes under the earth, giants and a magic ring.

I can't wait to hear the ride of the Valkeries in the next HD production. What a joy!

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