Monday, August 22, 2011

Opera Around the World: Das Rheingold

Rob Tedesco, former member of The BLO Bunch and doctoral candidate at the University of Auckland shared his thoughts on a recent production of Wagner's
Das Rheingold.

July 29, 2011
Wagner: Das Rheingold
Auckland Town Hall

On Friday, July 29, 2011, I went to a concert performance of Richard Wagner’s Das Rheingold, the prelude opera to Der Ring des Nibelungen.Wagner considered this opera to be a prelude and the remaining three operas the trilogy itself. This was not the first Wagner opera I have ever seen. It was, however, the first opera of the Ring cycle that I had seen live. I now want to see them all!

Need a synopsis?

The opera basically tells the story of how the gold from the Rhein gets turned into an all-powerful ring (if this sounds familiar, it is). Both J.R.R. Tolkien and Richard Wagner used the same Norse legend to complete their respective works. After the ring has been forged, everyone wants it. This will be a theme during the entire opera trilogy.

It was quite the performance. The opening with the leitmotifs brought back memories of the all the operas (as the leitmotifs certainly should, since they are the musical depictions of the characters). I thought the orchestra did an amazing job (considering the stage was jammed packed too). The Horns were struggling briefly (but did great overall). It was really nice to have Wagner Tubas. You don’t see them in concerts enough!!

The singers were mostly very good. The tenors were a little light. The orchestra almost covered them up. I mean, it was a concert performance of Wagner, which could happen, of course. Wotan was underpowered. I give a lot of credence to the APO for evening doing this concert since it is such a tough piece (and expensive with all the extra instrumentalists and singers).

After the concert tonight, which was after 10:30pm; the concert started at 7:30, There was a Wagner Tuba concert!! They even have Wagnerian Helmets on their heads.  Great idea (how can they still be playing after a 3 hour concert I don't know). So many people came, both from the orchestra and audience. It seems they are having lots of fun. People are drinking and talking and just having lots of fun. Friends are hanging out. Who thought of having this concert genius. Wagner tubas are awesome. Next they need to do Bruckner 8!!

This was the perfect way to end the concert. I really enjoyed seeing Das Rheingold in concert. I will be even happier when I actually get to see the entire Ring Cycle myself. For all the trouble that Wagner has gotten into because of his political views, the genius of this man cannot be overstated. All four musical dramas (as Wagner called them) are a testament to Wagner’s compositional prowess. 

-- Rob Tedesco
University of Auckland, New Zealand

No comments:

Post a Comment