The production at the Southbank had a vital, unpretentious clarityby Sameer Rahim / July 4, 2016 / Leave a comment
For many people, including seasoned opera fans, the works of Richard Wagner can be off-putting. None more so that his Ring Cycle, spread over four operas and 15 hours of music. It doesn’t help that some Wagner fans rather enjoy the idea of the Ring as accessible only to those who, like the Cycle’s hero Siegfried, must force their way up a daunting pinnacle.
So it was a pleasure last week to experience Opera North’s stripped-down, unpretentious Ring Cycle at London’s Southbank. Semi-staged by Peter Mumford, and conducted by Richard Farnes, the performance zoomed in the music and the story. No elaborate concepts or interpretation here: just a desire to bring clarity to work that has enough complexity to be getting on with. Above the stage three screens illuminated the action with pictures of rolling waves or the symbols being sung about (sword, spear, rope etc). During the musical interludes, we were told what was happening while we listened to Wagner’s orchestration of it, adding to the richness of the experience. These narrative gobbets were written in the past tense, as though we were hearing the pre-history of our own world.