Das Rheingold ‎


Richard Wagner Das Rheingold ‎ to libretto by the composer. Directed 2008 by Michael Schulz at the Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar. Stars Mario Hoff (Wotan), Alexander Günther (Donner), Jean-Noël Briend (Froh), Erin Caves (Loge), Tomas Möwes (Alberich), Frieder Aurich (Mime), Renatus Mészár (Fasolt), Hidekazu Tsumaya (Fafner), Christine Hansmann (Fricka), Marietta Zumbült (Freia), Nadine Weissmann (Erda), Silona Michel (Woglinde), Susann Günther-Dissmeier (Wellgunde),  Christiane Bassek (Floßhilde), Luise Grabolle, Marie-Louise Winde, and Luisa Wöllner (Norns).  Carl St. Clair conducts the Staatskapelle Weimar. Set design by Dirk Becker; costumes by Renée Listerdal; dramaturgy by Wolfgang Willaschek. Directed for TV by Brooks Riley. Released 2009, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: C+

If you are a regional opera house, how can you stage something as demanding as Wagner's Ring? You can't hire famous singers, and there's no budget for special effects. Well, look for a special twist. And here that twist is to stage (this Rheingold at least) as a comedy! That doesn't cost a penny! When you look further, you see to your astonishment that Wagner allows this: he built into the libretto (of Das Rheingold anyway) a sub-current of humour and irony that is usually overlooked.

Don't have a local bass who is 4 feet tall? Simple, just take your 6-foot bass under contract and slap shoes on his knees! Open the show with Norns who are 9 years old and look darling playing with puppets. Let all the ladies in the chorus be Rheinmaidens and all of them who can hack it go "ohne oben" (topless). Let the Gods be a mafia family with Loge as consigliere---it works! And what a shame: Freia wants to play house with that sweet giant while Wotan wants to keep all the gold. But Wotan has to buy Freia back (with the gold) because she has those delicious apples. Watch Wotan get the hots for Erda (who will eventually have 9 daughters with the guy). The jokes pile up, but without getting into self-parody. Thus Director Michael Schulz keep you on your toes without overworking your brain. Along the we way, you realize that much of the singing and the orchestration is actually pretty good. OK: this title get a "C+."

Here's an old and just barely watchable YT clip (of this entire Wagner Ring) which shows you how primitive this all is: