“Gunter von Kannen is a powerful, hypnotic Alberich, whose voice conveys a sense of strength and authority which makes his curse on the Ring convincing...There's enough convention to be familiar and the modern touches are highly appropriate to the plot and its development.”
“Harry Kupfer's Bayreuth staging was Teutonically technological and ugly, but despite some dramatic silliness it actually heeded Wagner's stage directions. So does this one, created originally for Berlin, but it's a lot more attractive, and rightly attentive to the Ring's mythological core. Its centrepiece, towering above a black mirrored stage surface, is the massive World-Ash tree, from which we see Wotan tearing his spear, and around whose roots the Rhinemaidens gambol and climb; the action moves up and down the trunk with the aid of the Liceu's splendid new machinery. Sillinesses – recurring suitcases, the gods' premature entrances and over-extended dance finale, the serpent reduced to feeble claws – aren't crippling. Bertrand de Billy's warm, slowish reading is likeable, but doesn't generate enough shape and dramatic drive. Falk Struckmann's Wotan is a strong-voiced dynamic presence, but his tone is harsh and vibrant, and his characterisation arrogantly unsympathetic. Günter von Kannen is now a rather portly Alberich, and, despite a wonderfully malign glare, short on vocal and dramatic bite. Not so Graham Clark's Loge, incisively sung, even if his character tenor underplays the part's more lyrical side. Lioba Braun, Elisabete Matos and Andrea Bönig are worthy goddesses, Jeffrey Dowd a strong if not ideally mellifluous Froh, and Wolfgang Rauch an unusually impressive Donner. Veteran Matthias Hölle and rising star Kwangchul Youn are excellent Giants, android-like figures more effective than Bayreuth's dehumanised monstrous puppets. That goes, too, for the romantic rather than tarty Rhinemaidens. So we have a decent modern staging on DVD, recorded in vivid surround-sound and clear if somewhat stygian vision. It does, though, have one infuriating disadvantage: unlike any other Rheingold it's spread over two discs; the sidebreak isn't well chosen, and you have to go through the whole menu rigmarole before the second side.”
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