Der Ring des Nibelungen: Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, Royal Opera House, London

4.00

 

Now that Keith Warner’s "Ring" has been re-launched in its entirety, we can judge it afresh. Like the first two "days" (reviewed last week) the second two contain much to enjoy, if also some disappointments, plus some technical hitches which should have been sorted out in dress rehearsal - notably the stuffed stag with its antlers caught on the overhanging 'sky', thus sabotaging Siegfried’s loveliest aria.

Warner’s direction is very hit-and-miss. He skilfully heads off longueurs in the expository sections, but at other times his touch can desert him totally. In Siegfried’s awakening of Brünnhilde, what should be a climactic blaze of ecstasy is scuppered by the way Stefan Vinke and Susan Bullock are placed miles apart and required to ignore each other; their subsequent performances in ‘Götterdämmerung’ are nothing short of heroic.

But this production throws up some wonderful moments. The "Annunciation of Death" duet between Simon O’Neill’s Siegmund and Eva-Maria Westbroek’s Sieglinde is one; while Sophie Bevan’s Woodbird, Mihoko Fujimura’s Waltraute, John Tomlinson’s Hagen, and Bryn Terfel’s psychologically-acute portrayal of Wotan’s conversion provide others. And nobody who saw it will forget the extraordinary farewell between this Wotan and his Brünnhilde, as the pent-up emotion of a lifetime of repression is sublimated in song.

If Wagner’s plotting does not always add up, Antonio Pappano and the Royal Opera House orchestra brilliantly demonstrate the scale of his still-underrated symphonic achievement (Tom Ades is the current fashionable nay-sayer). But we’re waiting for a 21st century production which does the ‘Ring’ justice, and the real weakness of this show lies in its designs.

Wagner’s own stage directions indicate landscapes lit by rosy dawns and golden sunsets, and periodically overcast by storm-clouds; each numinous event had to be heralded by its own particular light.

I’m not suggesting we go back to such literalism, but Warner’s designer (the late Stefanos Lazaridis) seems to have been fatally hobbled by the pseudo-intellectual baggage his designs were expected to bear. They clutter the stage like Steptoe’s yard, and their perverse denial of beauty is disabling.

This is only mitigated in Act 3 of Götterdämmerung, where the cacophony of images resolves into something grand, simple, and exquisitely lit. This why his "Ring" will never be loved, and why it will be supplanted as soon as decorum - and budgets - permit.

PS - Memo to management: Time to replace the ROH’s "front-of-house fanfare", which is ear-bashingly naff.

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama

TV

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living