For the record, I thought that the American Rheingold at the National Opera was a bad idea long before I heard anything about it. There is nothing in the concept, such as I understand it, that wasn't done by Patrice Chéreau and Harry Kupfer. Wotan and his divine social club were presented as nouveau riche, power hungry socialites in both the Chéreau and Kupfer cycles. Alberich is always sort of a lower-class industrialist, rising above the station the gods want for him. The milieu is different, though not really all that different, but the concept is the same. I heard an interview on NPR with Francesca Zambello, and I was somewhat bothered by her ideas. Opera should be made accessible for the kiddies? Trust me, a 17-year-old who wants to see Das Rheingold is going to go whether or not the production appeals to him. The rest of the class is too busy watching The O.C. or TRL or, I don't know, Anderson Cooper 360.
The production is being trashed on the blogosphere. Rightfully so.