By Richard Wagner
The Lowry, 14 July 2012
Another year, another Richard Wagner offering from Opera North: we had the preamble Das Rheingold last year, and now we are into the first day proper of Der Ring des Nibelung.
As before, the orchestra took centrestage, the singers afore them, a video backdrop supplying images for the music and taking the place of a set. Most (85% or so) of the drama of the opera comes from Wagner’s music, so it is just that it should be foregrounded in this way. An added bonus is that the opera has become a more immediate, intimate experience: the singers seem somehow closer to you than they in actual fact are.
The great virtue of Wagner’s opera (and of the cycle as a whole, come to that) is that the gods – and above all Wotan – are not omnipotent and all-knowing. They are compromised, corruptible, fallible, imperiled. They are hunted and fallen. Though Wotan may intend to do good, it is not certain that he can or will. It makes for situations where anything can happen, everything is up in the air.
Golden storytelling, that’s it in a shellcasing.
Opera North will be staging Siegfried next year, that’s another delight to look forward to.