Wednesday, March 08, 2006


The 1991 video of Harry Kupfer's production of Das Rheingold is finally out on DVD. It was recorded at Bayreuth, though not as part of the Festspiele, if I recall correctly, and Daniel Barenboim conducts. The cast is adequate, with two real stand-outs, John Tomlinson's Wotan and Graham Clark's Loge.

Tomlinson is authoritative and powerful. I read elsewhere that he makes you forget every other interpreter of the role. That's not entirely true, as I find him a little too mature for the Wotan of Das Rheingold. Fischer-Dieskau's much-loathed performance for Von Karajan hits the feel of a youthful, slightly stupid, and extremely arrogant god. Despite the fact that he is far too mature-sounding for the role, he was probably the best Wotan of the 1990s.

Now, I find Graham Clark's Loge to be the best performance of video. Heinz Zednik was solid for Boulez/Chereau, but Clark nails the role. His campy, arch, and witty performance captures both the playfulness and quiet menace of Loge. The other gods might be better looking, more glamorous, and more godlike - but there is no doubt as to who is in charge. Loge is the brains behind the operation, and he knows it. Clark's knowing smile after his disgusted scene 4 monologue is a foreshadowing of things to come.

The Kupfer staging is divisive. Either you like it or you don't. He makes Chereau look hopelessly conservative. Even Wieland's Neu Bayreuth couldn't have been as shocking as this staging. I like it, or - to be more precise - I appreciate it. Buy the DVD for the music, which is as well-conducted as anyone could want. Watch the staging, but don't say I didn't warn you.


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