Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Paris Ring: Rhein-ball [dress rehearsal]

I attended the final dress rehearsal last night. In this post I share some points about the production without talking about the vocal qualities of the singers nor about the orchestra -- as this show still carried a tag "rehearsal".

Das Rheingold (L'Or du Rhin) will be premiered coming Thursday, March 4, and Yours Truly has the ticket :)

So what's the Krämer's Ring about?

The concept is pretty much summarized in the interview with  Krämer (c.f. my previous post). It's maybe not explicit enough but the keys are there.

In the opening scene we see the Rhine maidens --Berlin cabaret lookalikes-- protecting the Gold which will turn out to be a large perfect Golden ball.  The way Alberich tricks them and steal the Gold  is quick, tricky and well done (you need to see the tricks and scenes yourself). I actually like the fact that Krämer doesn't use video. It's refreshing and makes the whole thing even more impressive!  Just to give you an idea about the way the Maidens look ;) [to see it better, click in the pic... well not there! :) ]

Gods rule the World - nothing strange, so far ;)  They are in fact living on/around the globe, while the Giants are busy building the castle in the background. The idea of Krämer's that the giants are just a well-qualified working class is actually brilliant. Fasolt and Fafner are simply the two representatives --say of the Labor Union or of the two different Unions-- who threat the Gods to strike until they don't get what they were promised to (i.e. Freia).

Wotan is standing on the top of the World, below/left are Fasolt and Fafner, below/right are the Gods; Walhala is in the b/g.

[Note how Krämer cleverly explores the enormous depth of the scene at Opéra Bastille.]
Loge will jump out from the Globe and eventually offer a solution to the Wotan's problem. Pay attention to the way Krämer portrays Loge -- to me the most interesting "detail" in the whole production. 

Time to descend to Nibelheim, where a huge suspended sow is scraping the Golden ball. The Nibelung dwarfs are also the working class but unlike the Giants they are not Unionized and they live in the oppressive regime ruled by Alberich (I said I wouldn't say a word on singers, but this man is freaking amazing!) In the Kraemer's reading you can interpret the Nibelungen as "less-qualified" manpower. The reference to Zola is quite clear there too...

 Nibelheim: Loge and Mime are in front. The mirror is in the back, so you can see the two sides of the scraped Golden sphere [but also the reflection of Ph.Jordan in the pit :) ]

The tricks Loge uses to fool Alberich are also well done (you have to see that - put in words it would be messy and/or trivial): in fact Nibelungen form a giant snake and/or a toad. By that Alberich shows off his absolute power over the dwarfs ==> this is his tarnhelm; OK there is a towel for the folks who may not have gotten the point. This desire to make everything explicit is what I (personally!) don't like about this production, but I understand the Ring is not produced for me :)

Then we go to the top of the Mountain and there you are in the most literary reading of the Ring. Loge unties one hand to Alberich, as you can (?) see in the pic below, where Alberich used the Ring to summon the Nibelungen to collect and bring the gold...

I won't recount the whole Rheingold now :)
Here you can see Wotan already with the Ring on his hand, doubting whether or not he should keep it...

Then comes Erda who moves slowly along the scene, all dressed in black and with a veil over her head, plus she produces some divine singing (that girl is a ginormous discovery for me!)

Fafner will kill Fasolt with one of the gold-bars. This line of Krämer's staging works the best for me. You can see it as: (1) the well Unionized working class is falling apart and start fighting among themselves once the Gold/money came within their grip, or (2) once they get in power, the working class disintegrates and Union-1 fights against Union-2, instead of doing what they stood for before getting there...

Doner and Froh do their magic and you see the castle approaching from afar:

Wotan's power is on its highest. That's when he gives the name to the castle -- Valhalla. This moment with Wotan & Fricka:

One more surprise:  Once the Valhalla gets very close, it transforms to a huge staircase and the boys --wearing the same kind of gears you can see in the pictures by Leni Riefenstahl-- enter the stage carrying the huge letters that combine into "Germania" (a reference to the Albert Speer's project).


I'll certainly blog  more about the production and especially about the singers & Philippe Jordan. I'll just say that it is overall very well sung and played. 

The Paris Opera has put big money in this show and you can see it. It's one of those big productions which is pretty coherent and should work well for most part of the audience. Personally I would like to see more audacious ideas, something more on the line that could "disturb" in one way or another, something more "impertinent"; the pieces which go more off the literary reading of Wagner's libretto... But that's maybe me being prickish ;)

If you can catch a free ticket somewhere on Internet, it's worth a trip.

CC pics

 Kim Begley (Loge), Qui Lin Zhang (Erda), Sophie Koch (Fricka), Ann Petersen (Freia)

  Marcel Reijans (Froh), Samuel Youn (Donner)

  Iain Paterson (Fasolt), Günther Groissböck (Fafner) 

Peter Sidhom (Alberich), Falk Struckmann (Wotan), Kim Begley (Loge) 

The best young conductor: Philippe Jordan


Click to enlarge - as we say :)

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