Wagner Götterdämmerung opera to libretto by the composer. Directed 2008 by Carlos Padrissa and La Fura dels Baus at the Palau de las Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia. Stars Lance Ryan (Siegfried), Jennifer Wilson (Brünnhilde), Matti Salminen (Hagen), Elisabete Matos (Gutrune), Ralf Lukas (Gunther), Franz-Josef Kapellmann (Alberich), Catherine Wyn-Rodgers (Waltraute), Daniela Denschlag (First Norn), Pilar Vázquez (Second Norn), Eugenia Bethencourt (Third Norn), Silvia Vázquez (Woglinda), Ann-Katrin Naidu (Wellgunde), and Marina Prudenskaya (Floẞhilda).  Zubin Mehta conducts the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana and the Cor de la Comunitat Valenciana (Chorus Master Francesc Perales). Video creation by Franc Aleu; staging and acting coordination by Aron Stiehl;  sets by Roland Olbeter; costumes by Chu Uroz; lighting by Peter Van Praet. Directed for TV by Tiziano Mancini. Released 2010, disc has 7.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: D

This is the last of the 4 Valencia Ring operas, all of which were done in the La Fura dels Baus style with heavy use of computer generated video, elaborate mechanical contraptions, and special acts with acrobats. In the first two titles, Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, Director Padrissa used these new design elements somewhat sparingly in a way that supported the singing and acting of the cast. But in the 3rd opera, Siegfried, it seems that the design elements start taking over the show at the expense of the cast. In this Götterdämmerung (the final installment), another design element is heaped on top of the rest: full-blown Eurotrash surrealism. Wagner's original concept of fantasy characters in a vast allegory is hard enough to follow in a traditional conservative production. When you add both high-tech design and surrealism, the whole work collapses into an orgy of conspicuous artistic consumption.

The most pitiful victim of the orgy is Jennifer Wilson, the soprano playing Brünnhilde. Her scene with Catherine Wyn-Rogers as Waltraute is embarrassing. Try to imagine 2 obese, homely women dressed by Padrissa and Chu Uroz in the ugliest costumes imaginable and then asked to bay at each other in closeups amid the chaos. As I watched this, horror grew in my heart. My home theater doesn't have a lock on the door. My children are in the house. What if they came in and saw me watching this? Would they start again singing parody Wagner duets to mock me? How would I ever regain that small amount of residual respect they still have for their father? Cut off their allowance? Double it? My friends, you can skip this Götterdämmerung. The risk you may be observed watching it is probably small, but it still isn't worth it. I'll give this title a "D."

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