The opening evening of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen, Das Rheingold is the prologue of the cycle, which is followed in turn by the music dramas Die Walküre, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung. The first instalment in Jaap van Zweden's projected Ring with the Hong Kong Philharmonic – an undertaking he regards as central to his tenure with the orchestra – is a promising beginning that may surprise many experienced Wagnerians. Van Zweden is ambitious in presenting the Ring with this orchestra, which plays it for the first time, though in fairness to the musicians, they offer an intensity and vigor that more than makes up for any minor scrappiness.
This legendary Bayreuth Festival production of Wagner’s 'Der Ring des Nibelungen', directed by Harry Kupfer, with designs by Hans Schavernoch, and conducted by Daniel Barenboim, is considered perhaps the finest video recording of these four operas ever made. For their innovative modernist staging, Kupfer and his team turned away from the work’s time of origin and located The Ring at a “road of history”, a meeting-place of past, present and future, which sets the scene for the story’s struggles of power and love. Barenboim’s authoritative yet highly responsive reading of the immense score and the extraordinary performances of the cast help to make this a truly memorable Ring.
La Fura dels Baus, famous for their opening ceremony of the Olympic games in Barcelona and opera stagings in Salzburg, Ruhrtriennale, etc., use in Rheingold 3D computer projections that evoke computer games, organic structures built of athletic performers that recall the "Cirque du soleil". From Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, Valencia, 2007.
In Patrice Chéreau's illuminating, violent Bayreuth production of Das Rheingold, Wotan wears the brocade coat of feudal times while the Rhine seems to be a reservoir with a modern power station - but, as Chéreau states, it "could also be many other things… a menacing construction, a theatrical machine to produce a river, an allegorical shape that today generates energy: perhaps a mythological presence, the mythology of our time… The gods' ascent to Valhalla (is) a defiant flight into the future."
In the words of the prestigious German weekly 'Die Zeit,' the stage production of Wagner's 'Rheingold' and 'Walkure' by La Fura dels Baus 'quite possibly shows us the path that musical theater will be taking in the future.' There's no doubt about it: the Catalan city of Valencia is setting new accents in 21st-century opera not only with its spectacular new theater designed by Santiago Calatrava, but also with its visually transfixing production of Wagner's 'Ring' staged by Carlos Padrissa and his theater group La Fura dels Baus…