Wagner’s Ring: Das Rheingold

Birmingham International Concert Season 2010/11

Fri 24 Jun 7:30pm at Symphony Hall

Opera North
Richard Farnes conductor
Peter Mumford concert staging and lighting design
Dame Anne Evans artistic consultant

Michael Druiett Wotan
Nicholas Folwell Alberich
Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke Loge
Yvonne Howard Fricka
Andrea Baker Erda
James Creswell Fasolt
Gregory Frank Fafner
Giselle Allen Freia
Peter Wedd Froh
Derek Welton Donner
Richard Roberts Mime
Jeni Bern Woglinde
Jennifer Johnston Wellgunde
Sarah Castle Flosshilde

Nicholas Folwell replaces Joachim Seipp, Jeni Bern replaces Meeta Raval.

Wagner Das Rhinegold 150’

There will be no interval and the concert will end at approximately 10pm.

A collaboration of Opera North, The Sage Gateshead and Symphony Hall, Birmingham.
The Opera North Future Fund is a major supporter of Das Rheingold.

Opera North is now recognised as the most interesting UK opera company outside of London’ Financial Times

‘Whichever other Ring cycles you go to, Opera North’s will, I’m sure, offer rich musical and dramatic rewards’ The Spectator

‘Richard Farnes’s superb, impassioned conducting leaves you in no doubt that you are hearing a masterpiece, and his excellent orchestra respond magnificently to his inspirational baton, whetting the appetite for his Ring.’ Sunday Times

Das Rheingold is the first part of Wagner’s Ring, one of the world’s greatest musical epics: a brooding mythological tragedy of love, power and vengeance. There is no greater challenge for any opera company, and this new production by Opera North is their first. Artistic Consultant Dame Anne Evans mentors a cast that blends artists experienced in this repertoire with the best of new talent. Each of the four parts will be performed at Symphony Hall over the next four years. Join us for an unforgettable journey through one of the world’s greatest sagas.

‘Even more admirable is the quality of the performance. Farnes has done many fine things at Opera North, but his pacing of this 150-minute sweep of music, his care about balance (not a single vocal line is overwhelmed, even in this opulent acoustic) and the sumptuousness of the orchestral textures – all this constitutes a massive achievement’ The Times 5* review of Das Rheingold

‘All of the admirably committed Opera North cast are adept at conveying character by gesture and expression and the semi-staging works well for anyone not seeking an ‘interpretation’.’ What’s On Stage 4* review of Das Rheingold

Watch Richard Farnes discuss Wagner, tabloid sensations, the Ring cycle and Das Rheingold

Read Richard Farnes’s blog introduction to Das Rheingold

Read Michael Druiett’s blog on taking on the role of Wotan.

Sung in German with English surtitles.

RT @Opera_North Das Rheingold will be broadcast live on @bbcradio3 tonight [1st July]  from 7.20pm, listen in here http://bbc.in/kKPICn #ONRing

Blog Review by Intermezzo:

http://intermezzo.typepad.com/intermezzo/2011/06/das-rheingold-opera-north-birmingham.html?cid=6a00d834ff890853ef01543347cfbb970c

…     “Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke’s camp Loge assumed the comic position more usually occupied by Alberich and Mime (Richard Roberts, wonderfully whiny). Jeni Bern, Sarah Castle and especially Jennifer Johnston were as fine a trio of Rhinemaidens as you could expect to hear anywhere. Peter Wedd and Derek Welton provided a sharply-characterised Froh and Donner, but it was Giselle Allen’s lusciously-voiced Freia who impressed me most.”     …

Review by ? Birmingham Post:

http://www.birminghampost.net/life-leisure-birmingham-guide/birmingham-culture/music-in-birmingham/2011/07/01/review-das-rheingold-opera-north-at-symphony-hall-65233-28964247/

…     “And under Richard Farnes the ON orchestra unfolds this tremendous score seamlessly, meticulous in detail (one example: 12 anvils and six harps – how often do you get that?), and contoured into one vast paragraph spanning two-and-a-half hours which fly by. Peter Mumford, who also designed the sensitive, point-making lighting, has given the opera a staging which gives worthwhile food for thought: the tiresome Froh and Donner are virtual lookalikes, as are the giants Fasolt and Fafner; Fricka, normally such a shrew, is here elegant and convincing in Yvonne Howard’s portrayal; Loge is appropriately camp, Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke reflecting his ambivalent relationship with the gods; Andrea Baker a scary Erda; and Michael Druiett imposing as Wotan.

But the chief triumph of characterisation is what is normally the loathsome, contemptible dwarf Alberich.”        …

Review for Leeds performance by Anna Picard, Independent:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/classical/reviews/two-boys-coliseum-londonbrseven-angels-cbso-centre-birminghambrdas-rheingold-town-hall-leeds-2302743.html

…     “Considering the heft of an enlarged orchestra, the delicacy was impressive: the tender oboe accompaniment to Yvonne Howard’s melancholy Fricka, the sly bassoon beneath Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke’s charismatic Loge, the bell-like blend of the Rhinemaidens (Jeni Bern, Jennifer Johnston, Sarah Castle).

With lighter voices, Wagner’s text crackles and bites. Giselle Allen’s Freia, Dervek Welton’s Donner, Peter Wedd’s Froh and Richard Roberts’s Mime carried easily, while Nicholas Folwell’s bull terrier of an Alberich bristled with fury and envy. As Fasolt and Fafner, James Creswell and Gregory Frank made Freia’s abduction explicitly brutal. But was Michael Druiett’s Wotan meant to be a stuffed shirt? Das Rheingold is the start of Wotan’s downfall: it will be interesting to see how he develops when Opera North tackles Die Walküre.”     …

Review for Leeds Performance by Tim Ashley, Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/jun/21/das-rheingold-leeds-review

…     “We’re in for something special, if Rheingold is anything to go by. Despite a couple of flaws, this was one of the most enthralling Wagner performances of recent years.”     …

Review for Leeds performance, byGraham Rickson, ArtsDesk:

http://www.theartsdesk.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=3934:das-reheingold-leeds-town-hall-opera-review&Itemid=27

…     “Three large video screens are suspended above the orchestra platform and the singers do much more than just enter, stand up straight and deliver. You forget that you’re in Leeds on a Saturday night, so engaging is the effect, and only occasionally do you notice the presence of more than 100 grinning musicians sitting behind the cast, visibly delighted at just how well the whole thing works.”    [ …]

[…] Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke’s Loge steals the evening; it’s his dubious advice which has led to Wotan’s problems, and Ablinger-Sperrhacke is compelling to watch, with his virtuoso display of shifty body language, fussy hand gestures and insincere facial expressions. The biggest cheers of the evening deservedly went to Nicholas Folwell’s Alberich, a charismatic pantomime villain inviting both sympathy and scorn, especially during his scenes with Richard Roberts’s wretched Mime, a perfect physical match for Folwell.”     …

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