jueves, 20 de junio de 2019
Video review: Der Ring des Nibelungen, directed by Frank Castorf, at the Bayreuth Festival. 2016.
Castorf is one of the major directors in German theatre. For this production, he set on stage one idea which has been discussed and thought in Wagnerian circles: The Ring's story, as well as Bayreuth's, is also a reflection of German History. He takes the most significant elements of this complex epic and transports them to recent times: oil is the new gold, and as a result, the superpowers fight to get the control of it. Here, the superpowers are the Cold War ones: United States and Soviet Union, as well as the occupied Berlin East and West.
The result is one of the most original Rings ever produced in Bayreuth, as well as the sets by Aleksandar Denic are one of the most stunning ever seen, not only in Wagner's theatre but in any opera house in the last decade. They consist in a giratory scenic platform, able to recreate until four sets. The sets are accompanied by video projections by Andreas Deinert and Jens Crull, which will let us to see the parallel actions to the main story, that usually are not shown. Castorf delves deeply on the characters' links and emotions, in many cases being faith to Wagner's original profiles, resulting in a good dramaturgy. On the other hand, there are also some nonsense details, and it has been criticized for some lack of unity, but this has been seen in more Ring productions in German Theatres.
In 2016, the channel Sky telecasted the complete cycle live from the Festival, so this is the first complete filmed Ring since the Barenboim/Kupfer one in 1991-1992. There is no news for a release on DVD, but it's for purchase in webs like Wagnerdisco or HouseofOpera, and recently, uploaded to Youtube, and able to see in this playlist.
Wotan is sung in Rheingold by Iain Paterson, whose portray was not enough vocally despite his good acting skills. John Lundgren was a powerful Wotan in the two following journeys, with his dark bass voice, with an beautifully sung Farewell. In Siegfried he seems to be a bit tired, but in Act 3 he regains his good level again.
Catherine Foster is a surprise as Brünnhilde, despite her voice is a bit lighter for the role than usual. Her high notes are remarkable, but they are brief. In Walküre she gaves a splendid performance, but in Götterdämmerung she appears tired too. However, she sings a good Inmolation.
Stefan Vinke is Siegfried. He has some problems in high register but his high notes are heroic, as well as his middle register. He gave great high notes in the Forging, the unusual one in the Love duet with Brünnhilde and in his last intervention of Act II. In Siegfried's account of his first years in Act III, a miracle happened: Vinke's voice reached a spectacular heldentenor tone, and sung the monologue with a stunning virility, resulting in an unforgettable performance, which will be remembered.
Albert Dohmen, the Wotan of the Thielemann/Dorst Ring in Bayreuth, is now Alberich. He still has a good bass-baritone voice, but it results lighter for Alberich. With his acting skills he portrays a scheming and sometimes brute villain, with his best moment in the duet with Hagen.
Christopher Ventris and Heidi Melton are Siegmund and Sieglinde.Ventris has trouble with high register in Act 1, but he recovers. Melton is a good Sieglinde. Georg Zeppenfeld sings Hunding very well, portraying him as a hideous and violent local chief. Sarah Connolly has a voice not very suitable for Wagnerian roles, not bad but out-of-style. While she reaches a good singing in Rheingold, in Walküre the role surpasses her, until she sings her aria. Fortunately, her acting skills convey a great portrait Fricka. Andreas Conrad is a good Mime in Siegfried. Gunter Groissböck and Karl-Heinz Lehner sing and perform very well their roles as the giants. Albert Pesendorfer is an impressive Hagen, with his deep dark voice and his scary portrait of the brute villain. Markus Eiche and Allison Oakes are convincing in their roles of the bratty Gibichungs. Roberto Saccà is a comical Loge, and his character tenor voice fits well in the ironic character. Marina Prudenskaya is one of the big surprises of the cast, with her seductive, velvet-toned mezzo-soprano voice, with beautiful low notes. Nadine Weissmann acts better than sings her Erda: her voice has a good middle register but lacks the impressive low notes and some powerful volume required for this mystical goddess. Ana Durlovski's good singing for the Woodbird is a luxury cameo.
The rest of gods, walkyries, norns and Rhinemadens are at the usual good level found in supporting role singers at Bayreuth.
A special mention for the actor Patric Seibert, an assistant to Castorf's dramaturgy, appearing in most journeys as clerk, Siegfried's human pet, waiter, a desperate running man. His presence is so constant that when he dies in the beggining of Götterdämmerung Act III, a relief of having get rid of this annoying character is felt. He was reportedly severely booed.
Each Ring in Bayreuth is an adventure. An epic adventure which always leaves a mark in the spectator, viewer or listener. Next year a new Ring will be set, and we hope it will offer an interesting view as well as this production; which will be remembered and even missed for many years in Bayreuth due to its spectacular sets and its originality.
My reviews are not professional and express only my opinions. As a non English native speaker I apologise for any mistake.
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