Wagner: Das Rheingold (hoff, Caves, St. Clair)

Album cover art for upc 807280135398
Label: ARTHAUS
Catalog: 101353
Format: DVD

Mario Hoff; Erin Caves; Christine Hansmann; Tomas Möwes; Staatskapelle Weimar; Carl St. Clair

Wholenote Discoveries - October 2009
Ever since Patrice Chereau’s revolutionary Centennial Ring of 1979, televised around the world, Wagner’s monumental cycle has become a household name with new productions cropping up regularly at opera houses of Europe and America. Being an expensive proposition and risky investment, there is great pressure (and great opportunity) for directors and designers to come up with something new and valid to say to justify the expense. Judging by Das Rheingold only (I haven’t seen the rest of their cycle) I believe the Weimar team has succeeded with this different, interesting and entertaining new version. Wagner’s connection to Weimar and his effort to gain Liszt’s support for the project is what gave the designers the idea to use Siegfrieds Tod, the very first drama Wagner wrote and dedicated to Liszt, as a framework for their cycle. The struggle for world domination between two powers, in this case Wotan and Alberich, is the central theme with both willing to take part in the stage action. Alberich is a powerful figure, by no means a dwarf, but puts on the dwarf costume deliberately to break through the “partition” that separates him from the action. The gods are a bunch of half-drunk, decadent and stupid wasters sitting around the kitchen table waiting for the underprivileged but very clever demi-god Loge to help them out of the trouble Wotan got them into. As this most action packed opera unfolds, with Wagner’s powerful and compassionate dramatic music there is an uneasy triumph at the end, but signalling tragedy yet to come. A small theatre working with local, but excellent singing artists - Möwes as Alberich and Caves as Loge are absolutely superb - this performance works on all levels and is very satisfying. The young conductor from Texas, Carl St. Clair breathes musical life into it and certainly sounds dynamic and passionate, truly Wagnerian. Janos Gadonyi

Price: $35.98