From Wagner. G. Grimsley, R. Nolte, D. Butt Philip, A. Pesendorfer, J. Kaiser, A. Tsymbalyuk, S. Youn, M. Atxalandabaso, S. Connolly, etc … P. Heras-Casado. R. Carsen. Responsible for the replacement: Eike Ecker. Teatro Real.17-I-2019.
The Royal Theater puts on the Wagnerian clothes to face, for the second time in its recent history (the first, not entirely satisfactory, had Willy Decker as regista) «The Ring of the Nibelung». Tonight the fire has been opened with the Prologue: "Das Rheingold" ("The Gold of the Rhine"), a stony, concise, unitary work, in a single act and four scenes, lasting about two and a half hours. From the "Prelude" comes a good part of the "Ring" itself. It is the motive of Nature, the «Ur-Melodie». Everything starts in a basic chord of E flat major from the bass. A horn enunciates pianissimo the notes of the subject, a second one repeats them. The melody progresses and we begin to appreciate the magnificence of the music. Here we have also begun to calibrate the work of Heras-Casado, who has achieved an excellent pianísimo initial and has managed to regulate little by little the gigantic "crescendo".
His work then seemed very tight, neat and efficient, to a certain degree nuanced, with adequate dynamic arcs and a rational exposure of the different driving motives that animate the fabric and give wings to the pentagram. Everything has flowed smoothly and, to a certain extent, with undeniable timbric qualities, developed by an imposing orchestra (the one requested by Wagner) of almost a hundred musicians. They have even been placed in the expanded pit five of the six required harps. We have missed, however, a more heroic breath, a greater accentuation in some key points, as the entrance of the giants the access of the gods to the Walhalla, who finishes off the work so splendidly.
We have been given the production of the Robert Carsen Opera House, a dry metaphor of a ravaged and inclement world, in which the struggle for the sources of wealth takes great importance. An environmental argument drawn very simply, nothing grandiloquent. Everything happens, indeed, in an ascetic environment, where the gods survive badly, although not completely deprived of certain luxuries. A landfill, a huge room with large concrete blocks and cranes, a gloomy room where the nibelungos are dragged like leeches, are the scenarios we contemplate. The giants – here two tall but normal men – lead a team of construction workers. Here tuxedo servants swarm there. And there is always some other funny detail; like that golf club (Donner's hammer) or the Wotan banana republic military suit, turned into an almost magazine character, free of grandeur and height. We do not know why, but the entrance to the Walhalla, with Fasolt's corpse in the foreground, does not offer us light and grandeur, but the gentle fall of snow. Very badly resolved the scene in the Nibelheim. Production, with logical partial successes, but that we believe does not just penetrate dramaturgically at the heart of the story.
There was an appreciable vocal team of which we highlight the lyrical-light tenor Mikeldi Atxalandabaso, who debuted Mime. Excellent for vocal characterization, with fair histrionics, and scenic attitude. The bass-baritone Alberich Samuel Youn made a good impression on us. He does not possess the ideal blackness, but he sang splendidly, expressing with appropriateness, with excessively open sounds at times. Wotan was Greer Grimsley, who is estimable singer, but with the voice far behind, and timbre not exactly pleasant. As well as Freia -with her little suitcase full of apples from here to there- the gentle soprano Sophie Bevan. At his point the Ficka of the efficient mezzo Sarah Connolly. The tenor Joseph Kaiser, very engolado, of timid timbre, drew, nevertheless, a Loge endowed with distinction. Interesting the bass Alexander Tsymbalyuk as Fafner. Desigual the Daughters of the Rhine (Isabella Gaudí, María Mió and Claudia Hucke) and Ronnita Miller as Erda.