Friday, January 1, 2010

Gesamtkunstwerkish Rheingold of Fura dels Baus

As far as I can tell, this double DVD is the best release since the Copenhagen Ring (OK that Khovanshchina is close too).  La Fura dels Baus deftly crafted an outstanding piece of work: it is inventive, it is filled with brilliant ideas, it cleverly uses technology... In short, they managed to make  the Gesamtkunstwerk of our time. Moreover they did what seemed hardly possible, i.e. to shade a new light on this giant masterpiece. For that I am grateful to all the crew involved in making this production happen.


Not only Fura excels in this production. The orchestra too is brilliant. In "Making of" we learn that all the singers and members of the orchestra were auditioned and cherry-picked among the world's bests, a process which took several years before even starting to work on details of this production. The ambition was to make -what they decided to call- "The Ring of the 21st century". I personally find that phrase -which is also written on the cover of this DVD- annoying, but if the rest of this Ring is half as good as this Rheingold, I don't mind!

This production has been premiered at the newly built Palau de les Arts "Reina Sofia" in Valencia in April 2007, filmed the same year in April and May, and only now released on DVD.

I will not recount the story of Rheingold nor I want to describe the staging concepts of La Fura dels Baus, but since the ingenious part of this production is related to the very concept of Gold, I must briefly touch on a few scenes.

The Maidens are in three Plexiglas boxes filled with water, which are progressively pulled up in the air. While they sing "Rheingold!", there is a video image in the background of a golden fetus, spinning in space [Kubrick 2001!]. Gold actually comes from their ovaries, once they spread the legs.  Alberich will cunningly steal their offspring in becoming, take it to Nibelheim to set a factory to replicate the eggs in the army of golden humanoid clones, thus building a Golden Race. They will crawl on the scene and pile up in a greaat pile of Gold which can more than impress the Giants. Towards the end they will form the walls of Valhalla [in the "Cirque du Soleil" style; c.f. the pic above]. How genius is that!?

Gods are aliens, each in a silverish costume and moving via a 3-4m high podium. The giants are placed on the tops of two enormous robot-looking metallic creatures. With the extensive use of video imagery this all looks mighty impressive.

Loge is in between, not the inert Gods, too intelligent for the gnomes; he's quick and bright --a genuine intelectual; La Fura emphasize that side of Loge by making  him most of the time brownianly glide on a segway all over the scene.

It is futuristic, it is thought-provocative, very coherent, clever and well done.

If Carlos Padrissa steals the show by his staging the success of this enormous production owes to a set of most fantastic singers: from the astonishing giants sung by Salminen and Milling, via extraordinary Alberich and Mime (Franz-Josef Kapellmann and Gerhard Siegel), Fricka and Erda (Anna Larson and Christa Mayer), to authoritative Wotan (Juha Uusitalo) and witty Loge (John Daszak).

On the scale 1-5 :

WOTAN - Juha Uusitalo  5
LOGE - John Daszak  5
ALBERICH - Franz-Josef Kapellmann 5
MIME - Gerhard Siegel 5
FASOLT - Matti Salminen 5
FAFNER - Stephen Milling 5
FRICKA Anna Larsson 4-5
FREIA Sabina von Walther 5
ERDA Christa Mayer 5

Carlos Padrissa's production (for La Fura dels Baus) 5

Zubin Mehta 5

   Overall impression:  5  

2 videos below are a mere illustration and they diminish the awesomeness of this production; you definitely need to see it in a good (DVD) quality and  on a bigger screen.  MUST SEE  :)

Descent to Nibelheim


No comments:

Post a Comment