Dmitri Tcherniakov experiments with Das Rheingold at Berlin’s Staatsoper – Seen and Heard Worldwide






Germany Wagner, Das Rheingold: Soloists, Staatskapelle Berlin / Christian Thielemann (conductor). Filmed (directed by Andy Sommer) on 29.10.2022 at Staatsoper Unter den Linden however accessible till 17.2.2023 on ARTE Live performance. (JPr)

Rolando Villazón (Loge), Johannes Martin Kränzle (Alberich) and Michael Volle (Wotan) © Monika Rittershaus

Director, Set Design – Dmitri Tcherniakov
Costumes – Elena Zaytseva
Gentle – Gleb Filshtinsky
Video – Alexey Poluboyarinov
Dramaturgy – Tatiana Werestchagina, Christoph Lang

Wotan – Michael Volle
Donner – Lauri Vasar
Froh – Siyabonga Maqungo
Loge – Rolando Villazón
Fricka – Claudia Mahnke
Freia – Anett Fritsch
Erda – Anna Kissjudit
Alberich – Johannes Martin Kränzle
Mime – Stephan Rügamer
Fasolt – Mika Kares
Fafner – Peter Rose
Woglinde – Evelin Novak
Wellgunde – Natalia Skrycka
Flosshilde – Anna Lapkovskaja

This new Ring cycle by Dmitri Tcherniakov – unusually accomplished in a single go quite than created over a number of years – ought to have been part of the prolonged eightieth birthday celebrations at Berlin’s Staatsoper for his or her long-serving music director Daniel Barenboim who was on account of conduct its three cycles. Sadly, Barenboim has withdrawn from all performances on account of sickness and I’m certain everybody would hope that is solely momentary and desires him a swift restoration. What was Berlin’s loss additionally turned Berlin’s acquire as a result of Christian Thielemann was accessible to interchange him in two of the three cycles.

Barenboim however, Thielemann is presumably the Wagner conductor of his technology with many memorable performances on the Berlin’s Deutsche Oper, Dresden’s Semper Oper and the Bayreuth Pageant. Thielemann doesn’t have the connection with these three corporations that he as soon as did and it was questioned what could be subsequent for him. A technique or one other his future appears to be vivid and if the reception – from each the viewers and the orchestra – to this Das Rheingold is replicated in all his performances then he have to be favorite to succeed Barenboim when the time comes {that a} success is sought. That is all of the extra exceptional whenever you realise – because the hearsay mill has it – that Barenboim and Thielemann haven’t at all times been the very best of buddies, and that is the primary time he has carried out on the Staatsoper.

Tcherniakov – performing as his personal set designer – has created a tremendous multifloored and multiroomed set and it appears to be like to me that there’s extra money on stage than Covent Backyard most likely will get for a complete season of latest productions. It seems to be a single constructing that may cross the stage or stand up and down by its totally different flooring proven linked by a carry. Basically, we see a analysis facility conducting experiments on human behaviour and it’s named ESCHE; standing for Experimental Scientific Centre for Human Evolution or – for many who know their Wagner – German for (the world) ash tree. The tree which is so important to the libretto of the Ring.

First, we see black and white video of mind cells being injected and its subsequent results. It’s being protected in an auditorium to many we are going to subsequently see inhabiting this Rheingold. We quickly transfer to the blindfolded Alberich who’s confined to a stress laboratory and being monitored by the white-coated Rhinemaidens with their clipboards and studied by some observers. A volunteer or not, he’s surrounded by a battery of apparatus a few of which he’s wired as much as with a cap of electrodes on his head. He’s stimulated initially into sexual frenzy and subsequently a need for the riches and the facility to rule the world the Rhinegold provides. It will definitely turns into an excessive amount of for the enraged Alberich and after wreaking havoc he breaks out of the lab taking a few of the gear with him.

After a video of some architects’ plans, we’re again in that opening lecture corridor. We realise from Elena Zaytseva’s costumes – principally browns or different muted colors – that it’s most likely the Seventies (the massive computer systems seen earlier additionally prompt that). Wotan is clearly in command of ESCHE and the contracts we hear talked about are represented by the paperwork he’s proven wanting by within the marble lined convention room we now have moved to with cameo plaques (of well-known scientists?) on the wall. Will probably be clear by now that nothing – properly, virtually nothing as we do ultimately get a hoop – Tcherniakov reveals us could be recognised by Wagner. Loge is proven outdoors the door ready to be invited in. Fasolt and Fafner are the not-so-giant gangster-like giants who’re accompanied by 4 henchmen and are coming for his or her cash having maybe not bought from Wotan what they have been anticipating for all their building work. From a walkway above, Erda (one other ESCHE worker?) watches on.

Dmitri Tcherniakov’s Das Rheingold © Monika Rittershaus

This higher degree is linked by the carry through a flooring of caged rabbits (which has proved controversial) to the basement (Nibelheim) and in between we see the slogan Untersuchung menschlicher Verhaltensmodelle in einer Testgruppe (Finding out human behaviour fashions in a take a look at group). Mime and others (presumably members of that take a look at group) are attempting to get Alberich’s stolen equipment working. Alberich has a hoop that completely no person is fearful of and the Tarnhelm is simply his cap of electrodes, and he should nonetheless be affected by delusions as a result of it does nothing magical when he places it on. He’s ridiculed by Wotan and Loge and two attendants reply to Wotan’s telephone name and are available and take Alberich away.

It’s clear that Alberich has misplaced the plot (in additional methods than one!) and everybody now will really recognise the wrestle for his ring, however what’s the level of gaining it? Naturally there is no such thing as a gold as such, and this will simply be merely the handover of shares and shares. Fricka treats Erda as Wotan’s ‘different lady’. After Wotan settles his money owed, Fafner pictures Fasolt who will get dragged away. The ultimate scene takes place in a curved lobby with a central ash tree and Donner and Froh carry out magic tips – as their get together items – for these seated round it. Donner’s ‘mists and vapours’ come out of his sleeves, flames are produced from Wotan’s pockets, and there are different flashes and flames, together with from a sword Donner brandishes, while Froh produces a rainbow streamer from a flower. On the finish Loge simply lights a cigarette earlier than the set descends earlier than returning as much as present Wotan alone with the tree.

ARTE Live performance present this whole cycle from 19 November, so I’ll see the way it develops and the way in which this Rheingold suits into it so it could not be proper to supply ‘abstract judgement’ after simply this ‘preliminary night’. Clearly Tcherniakov will horrify traditionalists however with my lengthy expertise of human rats (Lohengrin) and animatronic crocodiles (Siegfried) at Bayreuth what’s the subject with actual rabbits in a Berlin Rheingold?

It’s a on condition that – as heard by loudspeakers – this was a perfectly carried out Rheingold and peerlessly performed by the Staatskapelle Berlin. It took a grip on me from the primary, barely audible, rumbling E-flat on the backside of the Rhine to the brass blazing gloriously because the gods cross the rainbow bridge into Valhalla (at the least in our creativeness, if not on stage).

The solid was Barenboim’s and never Thielemann’s however was comprised of a number of nice singing-actors in a position to not solely act however react with dramatic credibility onstage. Michael Volle is maybe the main baritone of his technology given the variety of performances he provides and the breath of the roles he undertakes. As anticipated, he proves to be an distinctive Wotan, much less autocratic god and extra harassed CEO, and his singing was fantastically phrased with a transparent supply of the textual content. Equally good in their very own methods have been Johannes Martin Kränzle (Alberich), Stephan Rügamer (Mime), Claudia Mahnke (Fricka) and Peter Rose (Fafner) who will reappear later within the cycle together with Anna Kissjudit’s Erda and the trio of Rhinemaidens (Evelin Novak, Natalia Skrycka and Anna Lapkovskaja). (I’ll remark extra on all these singers in additional evaluations.) Mika Kares introduced uncommon poignancy to Fasolt’s romantic yearnings for Anett Fritsch’s radiant Freia, while Siyabonga Maqungo sang Froh with a satisfying, candy sound, though Lauri Vasar’s efficiency might have suffered from Tcherniakov’s interpretation of Donner as a geek. Dividing opinion has been Rolando Villazón’s casting as Loge, it was clear that his character was pulling the strings and had a sardonic perspective to all happening round him. Villazón at all times appears a fidgety, excitable and irrepressible persona and that’s what he dropped at Loge. In fact, his voice is a shadow of what it as soon as was and – if he’s to proceed as a Wagner character tenor – sounded extra suited to Mime.

Jim Pritchard

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