Revealed: first images of Frank Castorf‘s production of the Ring, launching Friday at Bayreuth. [Abendzeitung München]
Well I missed the first hour but heard the rest of the Rheingold and thought it was fantastic. Alberich and Wotan impressed me and now they are talking on the radio with three leading critics including FAZ who all are raving about the production and are saying that Bayreuth has a big hit on their hands.
I heard almost the entire broadcast. I was very impressed by the quality of the orchestral playing and the conducting, but found Wolfgang Koch as Wotan less impressive. He’s an accomplished singer, but I prefer a more commanding, even heroic sound for Wotan. Seeing the performance on stage could have created a very different impression.
Petrenko was amazing and I am very happy to be able to replace Nagano with him. I just heard the whole Ring with Nagano and found him lacking. Too loud and too slow in a nutshell. There was so much more subtle playing with Petrenko. He never covered the singers like Nagano did nor did he drag. Granted he wasn’t fast but the tempi always seemed right. Like I said I only heard the last 90minutes.
I got to see the Walkure on its first night.
The concept for the whole Ring is around oil production. I didn’t see Rheingold but the Walkure is set in Baku on a detailed wooden set which turns on a revolve and which wouldn’t look out of place in Act 3 of Fanciulla.
Castdorf uses video cameramen to bring us the action, when it moves inside the set, on a screen eg Siegmund’s death.
Act 1 was fabulous with all three singers, Kampe, Botha and Selig on top form. Kampe had sung in a concert performance at the Proms in London under Barenboim a few days earlier when she was terrific but was even better here in a staging. Any director clearly has to work around his cast and with Botha because of his size there’s little physicality but he sang fabulously with a ringing full tone, exciting and virile, much preferable to Simon O’ Neill at Covent Garden and the Prom.
Wolfgang Koch won’t be everyone’s ideal Wotan, he doesn’t have the volume of Terfel but I liked him. He acts well you can hear every word and there’s a variety of colour in the voice. He’s totally believable without resorting to stock in trade panto poses. At the curtains at the end of Act two he nobly came in front of the curtain to rescue the English soprano Catherine Foster from the boos she was getting from a handful of the audience. She was singing very softly in the encounter with Siegmund, rather beautifully as it happened. In Act 3 her full confident tone, precision and acting ensured her an ovation at the end -- no boos here.
I’d only heard Kirill Petrenko once before in the opera house conducting a double bill of Erwartung and Bluebeard at Covent Garden several years ago. I was impressed then and again here. Fabulous playing in one of the best acoustics anywhere.
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