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Split personality. Liking the arts, especially opera, and hockey and Los Toros. I know, I know THAT one is non pc currently. But I can't help it saw some in Spain and got hooked, but good. But on the other hand right now opera and hockey are in the forefront!


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Das Rheingold a la La Fura dels Baus-Final Dress Rehearsal

I came with an open mind and had no earthly (!) clue what to expect of another 'modern' 'regie' production. The use of huge projections has become routine, methinks, and in this case IT truly made the piece, no doubt about that: the ring of fire, the black hole=entry to Nibelheim in bowels of the earth, the machinery of mass production of golden eggs being fertilized to produce ever more slaves. Which appeared as hung carcasses tended to by black clad 'evil spirits' under the whip of Alberich. 
These 'enslaved' carcasses were performed by an aptly named 'corps de ballet' (lol), who also served as gold treasure and Valhallas' cage walls in the stunning finale.

Now to the story - in brief:  Three Rhinemaidens frolic in water tanks attempting synchronized swimming moves, while mocking and teasing a bemused Alberich. Who retaliated by stealing the gold which will give him unheard powers whilst taking away any chance for real love!
Wotan has hired two giants Fafner and Fasolt to build Valhalla as home for the gods in payment of Freia, his sister-in-law who tends the trees and fruits which keep the gods immortal.

When he renegs on this 'contract' the giants take Freia hostage until Wotan provides them with the gold of the Nibelungs. Of which the crafty Loge has informed him and urged him to get.

The clip is from the La Fura dels Baus production, just not with Stefan Margita as Loge.

Meanwhile the gods hang in their 'cherry pickers' gasping for air from oxygen masks until Wotan can return with the spoils from Nibelheim in the bowels of the earth.

Accompanied by crafty Loge whizzing around on electric wheels - red back lit - Loge is after all the God of Fire, Wotan descends into an abyss where machines whirr, slaves are hung like slaughterhouse carcasses, to meet up with Mime who was forced by Alberich to forge a helmet which is empowering the wearer to become invisible and/or shape change, and also a RING from the Rheingold. The whole idea of this slaughterhouse (those hooks reminding of the ones Anti Nazis were hung in June 1944 after the blundered assassination attempt by Stauffenberg and his co-conspirators ?) and concentration camp (using slaves to work work work);  the egg production and destruction (are they meant to herald the (misguided) attempt to clone the perfect.. what? Humans? Slaves)? That concept is to deep for me, but what was one to infer from all those images?

Loge, gets Alberich to show those powers and when he is changed into a small toad - to  great laughter from the audience BTW, he is, naturally, captured, forced to hand over all the gold (in the form of the corps de ballet wriggling forms lit up with golden colors) and, finally as Wotan chops off his finger, THE RING.

Erda rises from the earth to warn Wotan and persuades him to turn over the ring on top of all that gold. The Giants return Freia and the curse starts by Fafner killing Fasolt. Rejuvenated Donner causes thunderstorms, Froh a rainbow bridge, and the gods move into Valhalla to be encircled by the (still ) hanging but moving ballets de corps bodies in lieu of a protective wall.

Musically, the cast and orchestra, under the gifted baton of Patrick Summers, sang and played well. Kudos to all for a uninterrupted 2 and half hours of Wagnerian sounds. I was very pleased by Tenor Iain Paterson's Wotan, Kristinn Sigmundson's Fasolt and Meredith Arwady's Erda.
Stefan Margita's Loge surpassed my expectancy with a clear ringing tenor with evil and sarcastic shadings, when appropriate. Alberich, sund by Christopher Purves started slow but ended with a powerful interpretation of fury!
Tenor Chad Shelton's Froh seemed a bit pressed vocally but the reason for that became clear at curtain, he was on crutches due to a foot injury. Of course, towering above the stage in his 'cherry picker' it was not noticeable ;-)!
Ryan McKinny's warm deep voice, while beautiful modulated and enunciated, lacked a bit of the expected Wagnerian heft. Maybe he was conserving his voice for the 'real' performances, as may have done Jamie Barton, the Fricka.
Melody Moore's Freia sounded scratchy at times, allergies?  Or maybe it was the weird cone headpiece she and Erda wore. Hers in white, Erda's black!
The 3 Rheinmaiden did a very good job singing after immersions whilst holding breath. But they had obvious fun splashing REAL water!!! Oh, yes, it was real water. Catherine Martin's mezzo voiced Wellgunde, Andrea Carroll's Woglinde and Renee Tatum's Flosshilde  matched up very nicely.
Rodell Rosel's Mime was at times inaudible, his whispers to Wotan caused by allergies? saving voice? or ? Otherwise he did a creditable job.
Andrea Silvistrelli's growly voiced Fafner, was not as growly as he has sounded in the past in other roles at HGO. Could it be that his Italian larynx (lol) had trouble wrapping itself around German syllables?  Well, whatever.
Both giants in their 'leggo inspired monster towers with Hampelmann like legs and arms ending in pincer claws' certainly seemed threatening enough. And yet the whole hit me (at least) with an  "oh gee, another techie effort to please the 'young audiences weaned on such from the film industry"? but it may have worked  judging from the enthusiastic applause and hollerings of a - mostly- YOUNGER audience with the true blue "older" opera fans sprinkled here and there.
Overall I liked it and would recommend it.


Anonymous said...

After seeing your youtube clip.. all I could think was TRANSFORMERS. And yes, that would/could appeal to the younger audience.\Now you have made me curious and I shall buy a ticket. I will write a comment after!

artandhockey said...

Thanks for commenting. I am sure you will not be disappointed. I shall look forward to your comments afterwards. One other thing I was made aware of: the similarity to cirque du soleil acrobatics/aeralists.

Erika Rummel said...

Speaking of modern stagings. Just saw Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida. The Greeks were dressed as native Indians, but wearing only one boot! In the background, two monitors played Inuit movie clips. Flashes exploded. People used sign language. Go figure.

artandhockey said...

Sounds terribly NON PC to me. Regietheater? :-)