I thought Robert Lepage’s expensive staging was pretty cool, to a point: the opening scene with the Rhinemaidens floating in front of vertical planks bathed in bluish light to evoke the river was visually stunning, as was the scene when the planks rotated to form stairs that were perpendicular to the stage on which Wotan and Loge descended into Nibelheim. But certain scenes of the much touted high-tech staging were quite silly – as when Freia slid headfirst down the planks to make her entrance (which goddess would deign to look so silly?)… and why the heck did Loges have to keep gingerly walking backwards up the plank to sing? He looked so obviously uncomfortable and stiff that I was quite distracted from his gorgeous voice.
This was my first Ring Cycle opera ever, and I was quite captivated by the story. I couldn’t help but keep drawing obvious parallels to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Evidently, both Wagner (who wrote the opera in the 1840s) and Tolkien (who wrote his trilogies during WWII) derived their inspiration from the Norse sagas Völsungasaga and the Poetic Edda. An old issue of the New Yorker has an excellent article that talks about both.
The music itself was very aptly dramatic and beautiful, and I was impressed by everyone’s singing. In particular, I much liked Richard Croft’s Loges, and Stephanie Blythe’s Fricka, although it seemed that the critics at the live performance itself thought that Croft’s voice was weak and barely audible from the floor. From the simulcast anyway, all the voices appeared smooth and strong. 🙂
Overall, a very enjoyable opera, and a refreshing change from the sometimes frou-frou-ness and silliness of Verdi and Puccini. Not that I don’t delight in the latter two! Can’t wait for the second part of the Ring Cycle next Spring. 🙂