Das Rheingold — first reaction

Date: July 26, 2013
Conductor: Kirill Petrenko
Production: Frank Castorf
Location: Festspielhaus, Bayreuth.

Frank Castorf’s concept is about the quest for oil, and Valhalla seems to be the profit-at-all-cost American oil corporation. The Gods are essentially Texas oil-riggers and/or those who benefit from the mining of black gold. Nibelheim is not so much a physical place as a metaphorical representation of oil profiteering. I shall withhold judgment regarding the production until the end of the cycle, but suffice to say, the production value (in terms of carpentry and overall craftsmanship) is exquisite. Everything from a road-side grocery store to a small road sign is meticulously made and spot on. In that sense, this production, set along America’s Route 66, is extremely visual, and perhaps a bit too visually stimulating. Some of these visual placements seem erroneous, including a sign that says “Wi-Fi here” when the rest of the set seems to point to an era before the dawn of computing. The use of live camera feeds, projected onto a large billboard-like screen on top of the set, reveals Castorf’s desire to give a different point of view to the Ring experience. As stage actors are filmed and projected onto the screen even though they are not singing or belong to that particular moment in libretto, some of these live camera feeds emanate the feel of reality TV a la Big Brother. The orchestra sounded small but compact, as I would expect from Bayreuth’s sunken pit. Maestro Kirill Petrenko seemed more willing to play with dynamics and speed, especially in the orchestral transitions — in a sense, more Furtwängler than Solti.


4 comments on “Das Rheingold — first reaction

  1. […] in drab Caucasus fashion. As fashion changes, the characters also don’t seem to transfer from Das Rheingold to Die Walküre, as if each opera tells an episode of different histories whose characters just […]

  2. […] location is East Berlin, but it bears few linkages, if any, to Das Rheingold and Die Walküre. One of the more important linkages is Brünnhilde’s rock, which physically […]

  3. […] was the connection to the quest for oil, which seemed such an alluring concept at the beginning of Das Rheingold but became dead in the water towards the […]

  4. […] as well as her understated entrance on cue, said more about Erda the character than many productions today with luxurious sets possibly […]

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