Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Richard Wagner, Der Ring des Nibelungen - Das Rheingold - Staatsoper im Schillertheater Berlin

Performance 11th June

I was lucky enough to get a ticket for the first performance of Rheingold of the current Ring at the Staatsoper in Berlin. Unfortunately I got just Rheingold due to the enormous requests. However I was totally happy to have been there because it was a marvelous performance. The production led by Guy Cassiers originally made for Milan is very interesting and features some really great ideas. Especially the stage (Guy Cassiers & Enrico Bagnoli) is quite spectacular and shows some really sophisticated details. The changing walls and the change of perspectives induced by the different lightning was really interesting and a magnificent idea. Also the idea to include dancers to support the plot (choregraphy: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui) was brilliant and worked out very well. Only the noises made by the dancing were a little bit disturbing at some point.
Musically Daniel Barenboim managed to conduct a very clear and transparent performance with great accuracy and dramatic feeling. The Staatskapelle Berlin played thrillingly with a great range of dynamics and colours. Especially during the orchestral interludes the orchestra showed great musicality and dramatic drive.
The three Rhinemaidens were sung by Evelin Novak, Anna Danik and Anna Lapkovskaja. The trio was well balanced and vocally more than appropriate. Their voices blended together so well that it was a pleasure to hear them sing.
Fasolt and Fafner were sung by Matti Salminen and Falk Struckmann. Salminen being sort of Wagner royalty still has a great dark bass voice and convinces with a thrilling performance. Struckmann also gave a brilliant performance with a very rough voice and very clear diction.
Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke gave a great performance as Mime with a very flexible voice that has a very natural timbre for a tenor. In the role of Alberich we heard Jochen Schmeckenbecher who convinced with a very aggressive voice. His timbre suits the role very well and his interpretation was very convincing.
In the roles of Donner and Froh we had the luxurious pleasure to hear Roman Trekel and Simon O'Neill. Finally a cast where these two roles are sund by appropriate voices. I think very often these roles are underestimated. Trekel sang a very authoritarian Donner with his heroic noble baritone voice while O'Neill's youthful heroic timbre suited the role of Froh perfectly.
Stephan Rügamer as Loge gave one of the best performances with a very flexible voice and a thrilling interpretation that was full of character and playfulness. His performance was cheeky and shrewd. Anna Larsson sang her signature role, Erda, and did a very good job in it. Her warm and soft mezzo / contralto voice suits the role very well and of course she has a lot of experience singing this role all over the world. Unfortunately there seemed to be a technical issue and so she involuntarily had to remain on stage longer than she probably wanted.
The roles of Fricka and Freia were sung by Ekaterina Gubanova and Anna Samuil. Gubanova was an unusally soft and balanced Fricka with a gorgeous voice. The timbre is sonorous, her transitions are extremely smooth and her diction is exemplary. I never heard such a vocally elegantly Fricka! Samuil's voice on the other hand tended to sound edgy and the intonation seems rather unnaturally. I was not really happy with her performance even though she did not seem to have any problems with the role.
As Wotan we heard Iain Paterson who was a more than appropriate choice. His voice has the necessary heroic noble timbre and also the stamina and power to sing this role appropriately. I would have loved to see his Walküre-Wotan as well for he definitely has the voice to sing these roles on a very high level.
Alltogether it was a great evening which was very impressive. It surely was a brilliant performance and therefor I give 9 stars to the Rheingold at Staatsoper Berlin.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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