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Bayreuth’s Ring opens ‘in sleazy Texas hotel’

The description comes from Deutsche Welle, a bland and neutral state broadcaster. Read first impressions of the first segment of Frank Castorf’s Ring right here. Mike Roddy, in his opening Reuters report, makes it a motel.

bayreuth rheingold

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  1. If that’s the case, shouldn’t the guy in the pic be carrying a chainsaw?

  2. Una Barry says:

    Love your humour, Alan!

  3. James Brinton says:

    The lengths to which producers/directors repeatedly go to degrade The Ring boggles the mind. They seem uninformed as to the composer’s intent, the 19th century context of the work, and the basic canons of good taste.
    In our world of “new is better” and “monkey like shiny object,” we should admit that “new and shiny,” informed by ignorance, can really suck.
    I’d like to see Julie Taymor take it on. Her concepts might be radical, but I’d be willing to bet they would be more tasteful than most of the productions we’ve seen lately, including The Met’s.

  4. if a director chooses to change the locale etc of wagner’s ring, one of the biggest problems is that (like the Lapage met production) the singers are singing about things that aren’t reflected in what the audience is seeing visually. for example, in the lapage ring the rhinemaidens sing about frocklicking around and chasing each other under water, whereas visually there was no water, no swimming, they just sat on a bunch of gray planks. when the gods sing about valhalla in the 1st scene, there was no valhalla to be seen, etc. if a director changes the operas, perhaps he also should re write the libretti to match the visuals. not that i think he should change anything, but at least he ought to have the audio and visuals match.

    • I take your point on changing locale, but I feel I watched a different Lepage Ring! The Rhinemaidens swam up in what was clearly water (while suspended on wires), with bubbles, waves, etc. in the projections around them. There was no doubt where they were. Surprisingly, it was essentially a traditional staging – and one which is greatly enjoyed.

  5. Fabio Fabrici says:

    The picture does not correspond to the text. The picture is probably from Walküre, staged around a oil drill tower in Azerbaidshan. The scene looks like Act I Siegmund and Sieglinde.
    No sword to be seen in Rheingold usually.

  6. Fabio Fabrici says:

    Two of the most influential German critics, Büning from FAZ and Lemke from Die Zeit have to say mostly very good things about Castorf’s Ring. Both have seen it too. (unlike most opinions here, which are born from imagination or hearsay)

    • Fabio, please: We all know that Regietheater is evil and that one single photo is completely enough for judging an entire production. (Irony off.)

    • Gurnemanz says:

      Well, then it’s settled. Roma locuta, causa finita est. (Irony off)

    • So, now without irony: here’s Büning’s critique (in German):

      Not really psoitive as far as Castorf’s work is concerend: “Castorf’s geratest weakness, as far as one can say this after Rheingold and Walküre, is that this time he left out directing.”

      Apart from that, she says more or less this: Stage design great, costumes great, videos great, conductor and orchestra great, Botha, Kampe and Selig great, other singers average.

  7. Alexander Hall says:

    Deutsche Welle is the equivalent of the BBC World Service and only transmits to audiences abroad. It is not strictly speaking a “state” broadcaster, any more than the BBC World Service is. Whether it is as “bland” as Norman thinks, I’ll leave others to judge. Interestingly, Alistair Appleton – of “House Doctor” and “Escape to the Country” fame – once worked for Deutsche Welle’s English service.

    • Err, no. All other public German redio and TV stations are indeed organized and financed following more or less the BBC model (independent governing bodies, licence fees etc.), but not the Deutsche Welle, which, aiming only at audiences abroad, is in fact a state broadcaster, supervised by the Federal Government and financed directly out of its budget.

      • Alexander Hall says:

        It is certainly true that Deutsche Welle does not receive its revenue from the equivalent of the licence fee – and I didn’t make that claim – but then until quite recently the BBC World Service was financed partly by the Foreign Office. Did that make it a “state” broadcaster? I think not. I think you’ll find that the editorial independence of DW is guaranteed by its own charter.

  8. Theodore McGuiver says:

    The above picture is Johan Botha in Act I of Die Walküre, which opened last night. Rheingold was pretty well received (especially by the serious press) and Walküre last night was a triumph which rocked the theatre’s foundations. Based on what’s happened so far, Kirill Petrenko is due to be canonised sometime next week. Musically, this Ring is exceptionally good on every level and Castorf’s staging is winning more friends than enemies. The audience hasn’t seen the end of Siegfried yet, though…

    • Gurnemanz says:

      “Castorf’s staging is winning more friends than enemies” Not according to what I have heard. As for Petrenko the acclaim is all but universal. So, when is another Western political commissar wannabe going to demand his stance on gays in Russia?

  9. PK Miller says:

    Why does everyone have to “tinker” w/the Wagner Ring? Can’t Directors leave well enough alone? I am reminded of one perhaps 35 years ago–perhaps in Bayreuth itself–chronicled in Musical America, then a subscription only classical music supplement within High Fidelity magazine, now an expensive subscription only website. The Valkyries were “ladies of the evening” and Wotan & Company, dressed in tuxedos, were the “customers” of the Valkyries et al! Certainly, the singing and acting must carry the “show.” But why oh why must people impose their own views on Wagner. Beam me up, Scotty….

  10. James Brinton says:

    The New York Times weighs in, finding much to praise in the singing, much to criticize in the presentation:

    “Wagner traditionalists incensed by Frank Castorf’s new production of Wagner’s “Ring” here at the Bayreuth Festival, which presents the epic cycle as a story of the global race for oil ricocheting from North Texas to the Caspian Sea, should take some solace: It could have been worse.
    “This avant-garde German director first proposed to cut and alter Wagner’s libretto and edit into the opera excerpts from other works.”

    • Gurnemanz says:

      “This avant-garde German director first proposed to cut and alter Wagner’s libretto and edit into the opera excerpts from other works.”

      I am actually sorry this did not happen. Why stop half-way? Why not make the farce complete? The plays at Bayreuth these days are not about Wagner’s artistic achievements anymore anyway , so why not make this fact transparent?

  11. Richard says:

    Reviews from the New York press are coming in. The full impact of Castorf’s direction will have to wait until all four operas have made their debut, and his concept of the whole “Ring” can be then be assessed. Apparently, the Wagner sisters (half) put the lid on Castorf’s original plan to insert music from other operas and to alter the vocal parts. Imagine. So many directors these days have an egomaniacal drive to leave mark at an cost, even if it means destroying the original efforts of the composer and the librettist. They are hired to direct the piece not derail it. Peter The opera as written is to be directed not rewritten

  12. harold braun says:

    So Mr.Castorf should have choosen some Chet Atkins or Jonny Cash as a soundtrack.

  13. Fabio Fabrici says:

    Huge booo storm right at the end of the last Aufzug of Siegfried for Castorf apparently (listening on the radio). I wonder what Castorf had invented for the incest of Siegfried and Brünnhilde.

    • Theodore McGuiver says:

      Well, he didn’t really seem interested in Siegfried-Brünnhilde at all. He made Siegfried very indifferent towards her and instead had a pair of copulating crocodiles enter stage right during ‘Ewig war ich’, one of which Brünnhilde later thumps over the head with a large parasol when it comes searching for food. The other eats the Woodbird who had wandered back on stage check on Siegfried, who subsequently prises her out of the croc’s jaws before declaring his love for his aunt. Despite all this, it was probably Siegfried mowing Fafner down with a Kalashnikov in II/II and/or Erda giving Wotan a blow job at the end of III/I that really got people annoyed. It must have been a rude awakening for some after being lulled into a false sense of security after Walküre a couple of days before.

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