So, I am sitting in a pretty comfy seat and Rheingold is unfolding before my eyes and ears with James Morris and Elizabeth Bishop, in snazzy colorful glittering robes, bringing home the vocal bacon, with a fine looking Walhalla represented at the rear of the stage. All is well despite my occasional turtle-like reflex of drawing my shoulders up high to shield my ears when the trumpets or horns drop another clanger.
Nicole Folland had the thankless role of Freia who is called upon to yelp and whine and bemoan her fate and rush hither and thither, grabbing on to Wotan's and Fricka's arms. Lest the audience is baffled as to why Fasolt is so smitten with her, she is dressed in the invariable plunging neckline and uplifted brassiere of Freias through the ages....and I wouldn't have it any other way of course.
The giants lived up to their name! They were apparently 16 feet tall, wearing monkish cloaks over their drooping heads and had arms that belonged on men at least 24 feet high, but I guess they needed them to lay the top stones on Walhalla. In all the Rings I have seen, Walhalla is indeed a piece of work and so I feel sympathy (as the author intended) for their treatment at the hands of Wotan.
I have always respected folks who keep up their end of the bargain and do a good day's work for a good day's pay.
Though somewhat unwieldy, given their size, the giants were a good piece of visual theatre. Impractically though, the singers were placed inside the giants and had to sing through a barrier which rendered them invisible but which also limited the power of their voice, and Fasolt (Rheinhardt Hagen) at times was inaudible, which can be a drawback to a singer. Eric Halvarson fared better.
Gales of laughter erupted at one point when Nicole Folland placed herself in the cupped, extended hand of one of the giants, instantly evoking memories of Fay Wray in the film King Kong.
Jeffrey Wells bounded on as summoned and threatened the giants with some good ole' fashioned Donner Whup-ass, and then James Cornelison pranced on as Froh and the voice that grated as Melot in Seattle last year went to work sullying some more Wagner. I am still scratching my head over how he finds the work.
A poorly timed trapdoor delivered the ringing voice of Thomas Sunnegardh in a costume that looked so flammable I cupped my hands to my mouth to yell "fire!" but was fortunately hushed by my seat-mate. He has a strongly projected clarion ring to his tenor, only lacking variation and nuance in the more tender lyrical Loge utterances.
Off to Nibelheim with recorded anvils. There was a man with a mixer and headset 3 rows behind me who was in charge of thunder and hammering.
Gary Rideout, a star of the Flagstaff Ring last year (Loge) was Mime and is a worthy singer and performer. A large puppet dragon head was effective in Alberich's transformation using the gold tarnhelm whereas the toad was pure Kermit the Frog.
Back on the mountaintop following another lowering of the black curtain, I got to savor my favorite "leitmotif" in the form of Alberich's curse. Again Tom Fox rose to the occasion. This man is a keeper!
I have the Chereau Ring in my laser player this week and the death of Fasolt there, where he is clubbed to death by the limp wrists of Fafner, is something that should have happened offstage. Though as far from a genius as it may be possible for a stage director to be, I think Andre Serban did the wise thing and have the giants battle out of sight and allow us to imagine the worst.
That done, we were allowed to settle back and enjoy Donner's clearing of the air and even though I knew Cornelison's strangled whine would soon split the air, I awaited the glorious sound of those harp arpeggios that accompany the Rainbow Bridge song. A rainbow was projected onto the scrim at the rear of the stage but, more effectively, from the base of Walhalla, a long staircase emerged wreathed in fog and lit in rainbow colors and was a wonderful effect; practical too, for the Gods could actually walk on it toward their new home.
A trap opened and a large white head, tilted on its side as if sleeping, arose and from behind it appeared the big dark voice of Elena Zaremba as Erda. I love those women who can sing this deeply (Cindy Sadler being another notable).
The brass kept up their end of the bargain as the Gods walked slowly toward Walhalla, and the theatre erupted in a mighty holler just before the curtain hit the stage.
A mighty audience reception greeted all the participants. Only when the director and design staff took their bow did I hear some isolated loud booing. I turned to my seat-mate and said "That must be Wolf!", referring to a German friend who had travelled far for some Regie -Theater.
A nightcap was required and so we repaired to a nearby restaurant to savor some expensive watery cocktails and enjoy some of that sneering insolence that English waitresses are renowned for.
It is a very nice feeling though, to go to bed after a long and enjoyable day, knowing that when you wake you have Die Walkure (with a good cast) to look forward to that evening.
And so to bed.......