Rheingold in Bayreuth: The children inherit the world

Bayreuth – Watch out, family saga: Even in the womb, these twins couldn’t stand each other! As the E-flat major wave of the “Rheingold” prelude rises from the depths of the double bass, the embryos are already struggling. A punch in the eye, a kick between the legs.

Kidnapping accounts for the stolen Rheingold

It is the unequal brothers Wotan and Alberich who both bear their wounds: a scar on the face of one, the other probably impotence. The Rhine daughters have something to smile about when Alberich, now a long-maned, white-bearded late revolutionary in jeans and a leather jacket, seeks amorous affection. Incidentally, they are nannies who take care of their protégés by a pool in front of a desert egg.

One of these sits apart, in a yellow t-shirt and cap. He will soon prove to be Rheingold personified, and that is the central twist in this production by Valentin Schwarz. For theft of the gold, here is a kidnapping.

The little boy, who suffered from Stockholm Syndrome and went berserk under Alberich’s tutelage, then bullied the girls at Nibelheim’s secondary school. It is very possible that the behavior problem Dreikäsehoch will grow into Hagen. Hort as treasure, Hort as nursing home? Yes, the staging also suggests this slight double meaning.

And have we already met the childish Valkyries in this secondary school? Erda, the buxom Okka von der Damerau, as the housekeeper a mute, passively resistant witness to what is happening on clear heights, finally leaves the gods with one of these girls who were previously supposed to serve as payment for the giants. Brünnhilde?

The future belongs to the children

But that is speculation. Secured for now: the gold, the ring, it means the next generation for black. World Heritage, it belongs to the children, it is the children. They have no rights, anyone can pull them on their side, prepare. It sounds much more philosophical and political, greener and “woker” than you initially hear on Andrea Cozzi’s stage.

Have the gods long been sterile in this dystopia? Can only stolen offspring ensure the dynasty’s survival? Stolen by whom? This creates tension at the start because you want to know how Black can logically follow up on the idea. But then there are too many unresolved remains and interest wanes.

Wieland Wagner started in “Neu-Bayreuth” by clearing out the old Germanic mess – which had the side effect of steering the discussion away from the Nazi past and back to the work. Meanwhile, Wotan’s spear has also been thrown away along with the ring and Tarnhelm.

Mythical creatures and gods become human

Schwarz no longer needs them in his interpretation, which meanders on scenic serpentines between passages in the text that are taken literally, reinterpreted and also rather ignored, but which also fuse properly. Guns indicate power, Donner’s hammer is a golf club. But if “The Ring” is a miniseries about a mafia clan?

Because along with giants, dwarves, mermaids, the gods here are people like you and me – plus a fat bank account and the inevitable pinstripe and evening gown decadence, of course, whereby Wotan’s moneyed nobility are more likely to be known as “new rich”. “. The bookshelves are organized by color, even he prefers to play tennis and train his biceps.

The song leaves a lot to be desired

Egils Silins as Wotan does the job to rule, with weaknesses in parlando and in depth, slightly nuanced delivery – but surprisingly impressive ending. Linguistic deficits are also shown by Olafur Sigurdarson, who as Alberich nevertheless becomes the audience’s darling immediately.

In general, one has to hope that this premiere does not say anything about the global level of Wagner singing in 2022: in general, people are tugging, pushing, crowing and staggering, sometimes even below the required pitch. Most of what one would like to call expression grows out of specific vocal deficiencies. After all, in his best moments, Sigurdarson displays a powerful baritone capable of expressing suffering.

Asmik Grigorian with Joshua Guerrero in Puccini's

Il Trittico: Ascension with surprise



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The baritone Christian Gerhaher.

An entire house full of magical creatures



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Ausrine Stundyte (Judith) and Mika Kares (Blaubart) in Romeo Castellucci's production at the Salzburg Felsenreitschule.

Double night at the Salzburg Festival: Doom with a roar



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Daniel Kirch, on the other hand, is under constant vocal pressure as Loge, Wotan’s crooked lawyer in a dark blue double-breasted suit, who throws back his long greasy hair with a Cher gesture and giggles gratuitously: forced roughness without any irony. At the rainbow finale, the degenerate society of the gods sees a modern lamp, while Wotan, dancing on the balustrade, dreams of a great future.

Some things are going well, but not much

Then Cornelius Meister suddenly slowed down his previously vigorous reading, which was intent on sporty flow: in favor of a widely celebrated post. Admittedly, surprising secondary voices and instrumental colors flash out again and again – but at the same time you are surprised by how much wobble can happen, including bumps and veritable bangs.

How was this production that was previously marketed as a “Netflix ring” going to continue? Sequel follows!


BR Klassik transmits with a time delay. Next is “Siegfried” on Wednesday from 20.00, “Götterdämmerung” Friday from 16.00 also as a video live stream

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