Richard Wagner: Die Walküre 


- The idea behind this unusual Ring production comes from Spain's La Fura dels Baus, the ensemble that has wowed audiences in most European capitals with its spectacular performance.

Few new opera houses would dare tackle Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen their first season. But Valencia's Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia has already shown a tendency to rush in where others fear to tread — with astoundingly good results. So now it's taken on the grandest and most complex undertaking of the opera world. The new Ring is a co-production with the Maggio Musicale in Florence, which undoubtedly defrays some of the huge costs.


Zubin Mehta conducts the new Orchestra of the Comunitat Valenciana, a hand-picked group of musicians gathered from auditions held on both sides of the pond. On stage, Finland's legendary bass Matti Salminen straps himself into a towering robot-like construction and sings Fasolt. And no giant could hope for a better fate. In The Valkyrie (Die Walküre) he returns as a formidable Hunding.

Fellow Finn Juha Uusitalo is Wotan, a role debut that proves the powerful bass-baritone can do just about anything superbly well. Juha joins Anna Larsson (Fricka) and Cartherine Wyn-Rogers (Erda) as deī ex māchinīs — gods who tower over the stage in their custom-built cherry pickers. The hand-operated hydraulic boom lifts in which the singers perch and are raised and lowered, at times with alarming speed. It is an effective and ironic bit of staging but limits the actions of the singers.


The idea behind this unusual Ring production comes from Spain's La Fura dels Baus, the ensemble from Barcelona that has wowed audiences in most European capitals with its spectacular performances. La Fura director Carlus Padrissa sees the Ring in terms of Greek tragedy in which the gods descending onto the stage in machines is synonymous with a hopeless situation in which Richard Wagner's gods find themselves.


The Rhine Gold (Das Rheingold) opens with the Rhine Maidens (Silvia Vázquez, Ann-Katrin Naidu and Hannah Esther Minutillo) in tight-fitting glass tanks filled with water. They have just enough room to somersault underwater before surfacing to sing. Franz-Josef Kapellmann, forceful and pliable as always, is compelling as Alberich.

John Daszak, another role debut, is suitably conniving and treacherous as Loge. He zips around the stage on a motorized scooter, hidden under his tent-like costume, but remains focused and never looses his heroic tonal luster despite a light squeak when he hits the brakes and the frantic movements required of him.


The success of this Ring relies heavily on the multi-media scenic magic of La Fura dels Baus. Their style is immediately recognizable in the razzmatazz visual effects. Franc Aleu's high resolution videos, which replace bulky scenery throughout most of the Ring, reach moments of pure brilliance, reminiscent at times of the enigmatic art of Bill Viola.

The gold of this production is abstract. It is metal and man at the same time. Franc Aleu spins the gold ring into a fetus and golden child that La Fura multiplies into a mass of slithering 24-karat humanity.

Wotan has to pass through a flaming planet earth to reach Nibelungen, giving at times the impression this is Wagner via Star Wars. In The Valkyrie (Die Walküre) Siegmund, valiantly sung by Peter Seiffert, is foreshadowed by a wolf raging through the forest. The imagery is violent and vibrant, a fitting accompaniment to Wagner's soaring music.


Source: Opera News



Richard Wagner: Die Walküre, sacral, choreography, opera, Live Visuals


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