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HomeTheatreDmitri Tcherniakov experiments with Das Rheingold at Berlin’s Staatsoper – Seen and...

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 somewhat 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 resulting from conduct its three cycles. Sadly, Barenboim has withdrawn from all performances resulting from sickness and I’m positive everybody would hope that is solely short-term and needs him a swift restoration. What was Berlin’s loss additionally grew to become Berlin’s achieve as a result of Christian Thielemann was accessible to interchange him in two of the three cycles.

Barenboim however, Thielemann is probably 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 method 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 should be favorite to succeed Barenboim when the time comes {that a} success is sought. That is all of the extra outstanding once you realise – because the hearsay mill has it – that Barenboim and Thielemann haven’t at all times been one of the best of buddies, and that is the primary time he has carried out on the Staatsoper.

Tcherniakov – appearing as his personal set designer – has created an incredible multifloored and multiroomed set and it appears to me that there’s extra money on stage than Covent Backyard in all probability will get for a whole season of latest productions. It seems to be a single constructing that may cross the stage or stand up and down by means of its completely different flooring proven linked by a carry. Primarily, 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 individuals who know their Wagner – German for (the world) ash tree. The tree which is so vital 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’ll 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 kit 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 want for the riches and the ability to rule the world the Rhinegold gives. 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 – largely browns or different muted colors – that it’s in all probability the Seventies (the massive computer systems seen earlier additionally advised that). Wotan is clearly in command of ESCHE and the contracts we hear talked about are represented by the paperwork he’s proven trying by means of within the marble lined convention room now we have moved to with cameo plaques (of well-known scientists?) on the wall. It is going to be clear by now that nothing – effectively, virtually nothing as we do ultimately get a hoop – Tcherniakov reveals us could be recognised by Wagner. Loge is proven exterior 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 obtained from Wotan what they had 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 stage is linked by the carry by way of 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 (Learning human behaviour fashions in a check group). Mime and others (probably members of that check group) try to get Alberich’s stolen equipment working. Alberich has a hoop that completely no one is afraid 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 truly recognise the battle for his ring, however what’s the level of gaining it? Naturally there isn’t any gold as such, and this will simply be merely the handover of shares and shares. Fricka treats Erda as Wotan’s ‘different girl’. After Wotan settles his money owed, Fafner photographs 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 occasion 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 complete cycle from 19 November, so I’ll see the way it develops and the way in which this Rheingold suits into it so it might not be proper to offer ‘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 problem with actual rabbits in a Berlin Rheingold?

It’s a provided that – as heard by means of 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 superb singing-actors capable of not solely act however react with dramatic credibility onstage. Michael Volle is probably 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 superbly phrased with a transparent supply of the textual content. Equally good in their very own methods had 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 could 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 delightful, candy sound, though Lauri Vasar’s efficiency could 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 occurring round him. Villazón at all times appears a fidgety, excitable and irrepressible character and that’s what he dropped at Loge. After all, 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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