|Götterdämmerung, Longborough Festival Opera, review|
|Life & Entertainment - Performing Arts|
|Written by news desk - telegraph.co.ukm|
Wagner himself would be delighted with Alan Privett’s production of Götterdämmerung at Longborough Festival Opera, writes Rupert Christiansen.
Star rating is always a tricky business. The four asterisks at the top of this review may reflect my assessment of the intrinsic quality of Longborough’s Götterdämmerung, but a bit of me feels I should add a fifth blob, in tribute to the commitment with which the festival’s owners, Martin and Lizzie Graham, have nurtured this Ring project over the past five years.
To mount a full-scale cycle of Wagner’s epic in a converted barn in your back garden without going insane or bankrupt – and at no cost to the public purse – is a truly exceptional achievement. People get knighthoods for less.
Its northern star is the conductor Anthony Negus, a protégé of the legendary Reginald Goodall, who pulls together a scratch orchestra each year and makes it cohere into a sturdy instrument that does the score honour. Even though the strings sound wiry at times, the sheer majesty of this grandest of grand operas is made vivid, at a wisely measured pace that is always alert to the drama and considerate of the singers.
Alan Privett’s production offers no startlingly original characterisation or insight. Using only a circular platform and three conical trolleys, framed by scaffolding and ropes, it offers a naive reading of the Ring, innocent of ideology and subtext.
But this will come as a relief to all Wagnerians weary of pretentious and over-intellectualised interpretation, not least because the story is allowed to run on its own impetus – and what an incomparably thrilling story it is.
Privett’s stagecraft may be basic, but he trusts Wagner to do the job, and that’s enough to validate his approach. Bolstered by Longborough’s acoustics, Rachel Nicholls makes a most impressive Brünnhilde, bright of tone and true of pitch, and as fearless above the stave when tricked by the Gibichung as she is tireless come her final Immolation. Her Siegfried is Mati Turi, a cuddly Estonian giant of a tenor, neither a subtle actor nor singer, but sturdy and sympathetic.
Stuart Pendred makes a light-voiced but palpably nasty Hagen who looks as though he’s strayed out of an episode of Wallander, in league with Lee Bisset and Eddie Wade’s strongly defined Gunther and Gutrune. Alison Kettlewell is an ardent Waltraute, the trios of Norns and Rhinemaidens are perfectly adequate and only Malcolm Rivers’ tired-sounding Alberich falls below par. Overall, I think Wagner himself would have been delighted.