May 06, 2006

Miles Berry

Inspired by Radio 3’s Ring in a day on Easter Monday, I stayed on in town on Wednesday to see Götterdämmerung at Covent Garden. This was the first time I’d seen it live, and I found the whole emotional rollercoster an almost ovewhelmingly moving experience. I was left quite stunned by Siegfried’s unwitting betrayal of Brünnhilde. as well as the deaths of hero and heroine, accompanied as they are by such great music. All this despite what some of the critics have had to say about the production.

Photograph by Alastair Muir, Daily Telegraph
Photo from the Telegraph’s Review

The music was simply wonderful, with the RoH orchestra on fine form, coping well with the dynamic and emotional shifts of the score, and no less than six harps arranged in the stalls circle. The singing wasn’t at all bad either, with Lisa Gasteen’s Brünnhilde very powerful and engaging, Emily Magee presenting a Gutrune of paper-thin shallowness, and John Treleaven’s Siegfried conveying much of the hero’s simplicity; he really didn’t deserve the booing from some parts of the audience as he took his curtain call. The chorus were outstanding.

Some aspects of the design were, I fear, ill judged, like the rather naff computer graphics of Siegfried’s Rhine journey, which might have been state of the art in the late 80s, the bizzarely rotating platform, with highly visible stage machinery for the climax of the second act, and Alberich’s appearance in something that was a cross between a hospital bed and a rowing boat. Others though really worked for me – the front cloth was a blackboard full of physics, which tied in nicely with Chris Lintott‘s programme note about the end of the universe in big crunch or heat death, and the lattice grids of the sets and tarnhelm evoked Descartes and the scientific enlightenment.