In a special one-off gala performance to celebrate Vladimir Jurowski’s 10 year anniversary leading the London Philharmonic Orchestra they played Wagner’s Das Rheingold.
The first opera in Wagner’s epic Ring cycle- Ring of the Nibelungen tells the story the Rheingold treasure deep in the River Rhein, protected by three Rheinmaidens. The dwarf Alberich of the earth dwelling dwarves the Nibelung is exploring and sees the Rheinmaidens and desires them. They each tease and rebuff him, calling him ugly. They tell him the story of the Rheingold, a gold so powerful that it made in to a ring and wielded by someone who gives up on love, they will have the power of the ring to enslave the world. They believe no one would give up love, unfortunately they have all teased and tormented Alberich so he, in a fit of revenge, steals the Rheingold to make the ring.
Up in the air in the land of the gods, Wotan, lord of the gods has made a deal through his brother Loge with the giants to build him a new hall, a citadel for the Gods. They agreed on a payment, their sister Freia will be given forever to the Giants. Freia is also the only god who can tend to the trees there, with magical fruit which keeps the gods forever young. Wotan believed Loge could get them out of it, but the Giants are insistent…
Now it may all seem complicated but this was the first time that I had seen Das Rheingold and hadn’t read up on it before, it’s a great story in 4 acts, no interval.
In this performance it was semi-staged. The orchestra were on the stage and where the chorus would usually sit in a semi circle above surrounding the orchestra, the singers sang and acted a bit too, to great effect. The one drawback was Wotan played by Matthias Goerne who hadn’t memorised the words so had a stand with the libretto, fixing him to a spot really, his voice also a bit on and off but not bad.
I was particularly impressed by Robert Hayward’s Alberich and the Giants- Matthew Rose and Brindley Sherratt who were fantastic. Their voices strong and carried very well. The orchestra were, as always, fantastic.
I loved the music here, it was so strong, but subtle when it needed to be, it was a masterful triumph. The overture created a palpable energy, a vibration that just ensnared the audience. This was a great start to Jurowski’s first Ring cycle (one per year), I can’t wait to see what he does with the rest!