Wagner's Das Rheingold

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Saturday, April 02, 2011

The Met's season-opening production of Das Rheingold returns. Bryn Terfel is Wotan, ruler of the gods, Wendy Bryn Harmer is Freia, the goddess of beauty and youth, Stephanie Blythe sing Freia's sister Fricka, Wotan's wife, and Eric Owens is Alberich, the king of the Nibelungs.

When Owens made his Met role debut as Alberich in September, New Yorker critic Alex Ross characterized his performance as the "chief glory" of the new production. "Owens portrayal is so richly layered that it may become part of the history of the work," Ross wrote.

The opera is one of the four-part cycle known as Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) or simply the Ring, that Wagner wrote between 1848 and 1874. The order of their intended performance is Das Rheingold (The Rhine Gold), Die Walküre (The Valkyrie), Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung (The Twilight of the Gods). The complete cycle tells an epic story of war, peace, greed and self-discovery played out across a cast of gods, heroes and mythical creatures in their respective struggles to dominate the world.

Wagner wrote the cycle in reverse order, writing first a single drama he called Siegfrieds Tod, which later became Götterdämmerung. His original story, he found, yielded such rich material that he needed to create additional, preceding pieces to explain the action. Das Rheingold, considered the prelude to the cycle, was the last work of the Ring that Wagner finished.

The complete Ring is rife with leitmotifs -- particular musical phrases that are the calling cards of the characters and a mark of Wagner's artistic achievement in creating the broader landscape of the cycle.

Owens has become a fixture across the classical music scene in recent years, performing both older and more modern works, from Mozart's Requiem to contemporary pieces by John Adams. Of the diversity of music he now performs, Owens recently told NPR: "I'm not necessarily known for one particular thing. But at the end of the day, I need to do what makes me happy."

Comments [7]

Kenneth Bennett Lane from BOONTON, NJ

KUDOS TO THE ENTIRE CAST OF PERFORMERS IN TODAY'S DAS RHEINGOLD BROADCAST !!! Wagner performed at such a high level of competency, is thrilling and energizing. Bryn Terfel, Stephanie Blythe, Dwayne Croft and Eric Owens have the voices and dramatically infused the words with imagination and consummate finessing so that everything seemed so spontaneous and exciting to hear. As the Met Opera continues to become more and more relevant and extends its reach, we may hope for a new Renaissance of opera lovers and performers.

Apr. 02 2011 05:17 PM
concetta nardone from Elmont, NY

Yes, I agree. Margaret does quite well by herself. And I believe Ira is wrong. Lokke remarks that he is thinking of burning Valhalla down. Which is what he does. I might be wrong. Wonderful opera. Great sendoff.

Apr. 02 2011 03:51 PM
Dirk from UWS

I don't mind Ira himself though I agree, some of the scripting is a little stiff. They need to watch more ESPN to get their rhythm down. I don't like the constant flogging of the Opera News Awards however. They're not a particularly important awards show. Let it be.

Apr. 02 2011 03:49 PM
Elizabeth Ronis from New York , N.Y.

Please. Why is Margaret Juntway saddled with a co-host? She is excellent by herself. I find it irritating and stilted. Their lines are so obviously scripted. She sounded spontaneous. She is just as competent, knowlegable, and pleasant as Peter Allen. I suspect it was someone's rather uninspired whim. Get him off and let her go back to what she did last year. If you are preparing him to take over, for music sakes don't. Again, a very irritating voice.

Apr. 02 2011 03:40 PM
Howard L. Levin from Jersey City. NJ

What a stirring perofrmance! It sounds like we are experiencing a new golden age of Wagner.

Apr. 02 2011 03:39 PM
Digoweli from NYCity, formerly of Picher, Oklahoma, Quapaw Nation

What a wonderful thing to hear this great work on the radio. Tickets are too high for most senior citizens not among the affluent, as are the Museums in New York these days. But we always had Saturday at the Met and then later a wonderful NPR that gave us such great Art music that told us of our cultural values even in the darkest of times. There is so little connection between the overblown English Lord of the Rings and the full universe of the Wagner. As I get older the Wagner just gets richer. Thank you for this even as the barbarians tear at the gates of NPR.

Apr. 02 2011 03:36 PM
Enriqueta Godoy from Santiago - Chile

Many thanks. I love the Ring. I used to subscribe to each cycle. Even I did travel for it! Now Thanks to Nescafé de las Artes in Santiago, Chile, I am able once more to connect with Saturday Afternoon Opera, same as when I was in NY! I love you all!

Apr. 02 2011 01:18 PM

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