A composer and a violinist are appalled by Bayreuth’s Ring

From the Rome-based composer Rodrigo Ruiz:

I feel completely heartbroken, sad, angry, outraged, and abused. I’m in Bayreuth with Kerenza (Peacock), her dad and my family. We came here to experience one of Wagner’s most incredible achievements: The Ring Cycle. What we have gotten so far is a new surrealist, nonsense play by Frank Castorf with incidental music by Richard Wagner.

More than anyone else before him, and possibly also after him, Wagner wrote and lived by this philosophy: music and drama are both inseparable things. In fact, he coined the term Gesamtkunstwerk, meaning “complete work of art”, to describe the inseparable relation between all the different art forms that make opera what it is. In an opera, the plot, the text, and the music are all part of a single whole. Those are things that are set, and that can’t be changed. Period. There are plenty of things that can be interpreted within that frame to make extraordinary new, fresh and compelling productions. If pianists for the past 200 years have found enough freedom within the music notation in Beethoven’s piano sonatas to produce a myriad different original, fresh and exciting interpretations, how much more freedom could a director find when there are costumes, makeup, wigs, props, sets, lighting, psychology of the character, and much more to deal with? Maybe it’s just easier to come up with random nonsense, cash in on their check and go home than to spend the kind of time a musician spends honestly and humbly studying the masterworks with a sense of awe and gratitude to be able to interpret them. In the current state of things, it almost seems like the music establishment wants us to feel grateful they’ve left us the music.

I won’t go into detail about all the absurd things the director came up with; it would take several encyclopaedic volumes to do that, and we’ve all seen the worst of Regietheater in stages all over the world. Here we’ve had a master class on it. But, as if the desecration of the work wasn’t enough, I’ve been shocked by the things the artists, both men and women, have gone through. In this production we’ve seen them in barely-there underwear, inappropriately touched and kissed, beaten, tied to a rope by their neck, undressed, mimicking fellatio and sex, women dressed and treated as prostitutes, cameramen taking up-skirt shots of women artists shown live on an on-stage screen, and even two inflatable crocodiles having intercourse. Most artists I’ve spoken to are unsurprisingly not willing to do any of these things on stage, but since directors always find someone else that is willing to sell out, they end up running themselves out of a job. They are forced, then, to accept anything and everything just in order to get food on their table and pay the rent.

What can we do? Honestly, I don’t know. All I could think of was not clapping, making eye-mask wearing a new form of protest by the audience (which I will try out tomorrow in Götterdämmerung), and creating awareness through social media. I’m truly saddened by all of this, and I feel very powerless to do anything. If you have other ideas, I’d love to hear them.

Wagner’s reactions to some of the things happening to his operas on stage during his lifetime are better summed up in his own words: “Having created the invisible orchestra, I now feel like inventing the invisible theatre!” Today, I truly wished he had.



From Kerenza Peacock, British violinist:

It breaks my heart that I could not applaud the performers at the end of tonight’s opera. I have come on a once-in-a-lifetime expensive trip to Bayreuth to watch Wagner’s Ring Cycle. For over a century, music lovers have come here as a pilgrimage. What made it even more special was that I was able to bring my Dad, and it truly was a pilgrimage for us. He doesn’t like flying so we travelled by train for 11 hours from England. The music is divine. The production is anything but. I am truly open to innovation in production and set design; fresh ideas, minimalism, embracing new technology. But what we have been faced with has disturbed me.

I have never complained publicly about any performance, and I never thought I would be writing a “Disgusted from Ipswich” type message, but I actually feel the need to speak out. I used to say I didn’t like opera when I was younger. But I set out to actually study it in an effort to understand it, instead of just dismissing it. And I have come to a deep appreciation and love of Wagner. I believe he is giving important spiritual teachings within his operas, and layers and layers of meanings. Whoever made this production clearly has barely read the libretto, let alone contemplated its deeper meanings. I came here in search of beauty. What we were confronted with was ugly on every level, a cheap Motel scene, a stage crammed full of every possible device to distract from the beautiful music and libretto. Lust and greed displayed every second, distracting from the virtues being described in the music. Giant faces of Chairman Mao and Lenin (WHY?) and lewd sex acts. The character that represents the Divine Mother forced to strip and seduce. And all this ugly rubbish made the plot make NO SENSE. It ruined the story; vital props like the sword were not where they were supposed to be, characters were talking to someone who was off stage, extra characters or noisy props were on stage. There were endless distracting TV screens. I want to ask the producers, ARE YOU EVEN LISTENING TO THE MUSIC??? Why do you think anything needs to be added to Wagner’s tale of love and virtue? If I wanted to see all that I would have just watched a cheap soap opera. The beautiful duet at the end of the 3rd opera was ruined because the singers were surrounded by moving plastic inflatable crocodiles, that would have fitted in a pantomime in Milton Keynes circa 1972.

I covered my eyes with my hands and just listened. And why did I choose not to clap the singers? I have wrestled with this a lot, but have decided we have to speak up as artists. I have many times been asked to do or wear something inappropriate in a performance. We have to speak up against the system that is bullying us (especially female performers) into doing things we are uncomfortable with. The argument is that there are always performers willing to take your place. But when we have studied hard from a young age these master composers, why cheapen their (and our) efforts by our fear? By agreeing to take part, these performers are accomplices in this damaging production. A score of such incredible beauty demands our respect and our care. When a new baby is born, we acknowledge it is miraculous and we take care to surround it with love and light, softness and purity. We would never dream of exposing it to the ugliness I witnessed on stage tonight. Should we not nurture our precious and rare masterpieces the same way?

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  • Hear hear! Directors like Castorf and Kosky with their puerile political agendas and outright trashing of Wagner’s vision are a blight on the Master’s legacy. Audiences and musicians need to take a stand and refuse to associate themselves with such travesties.

    • This is a 5 year old production in a location that has a reputation for directors opera. Some of them work, some don’t. Some people love this production, I was ambivalent about it when I saw it in 2014. To be ‘heart broken’ suggests the reviewer arrived innocent of this production and Bayreuth’s history.

      The eye mask idea is laughable.

        • No sure anyone was talking about being ambivalent about rape, just the production? No point jumping on tge bandwagon. Germany is all about concept operas and directors ruling the roost. Not to applaud performers because one doesn’t like the production, however, I find as a singer myself is a bit mean-hearted.

        • Sure there is a difference between rape in real life and the artistic representation of violence on stage (or in art generally)? Accepting the latter as a legitimate artistic strategy does not imply condoning the former.

          • There are operas that include a rape scene. But why add one into Wagner’s spiritual teachings, when we know he would have not allowed it? And when it proves that you have totally misunderstood what the libretto and music means, and the message he is trying to put across to help you live more consciously.

        • Surely there is a difference between rape in real life and the artistic representation of violence on stage (or in art generally)? Accepting the latter as a legitimate artistic strategy does not imply condoning the former.

        • Absolutely not, rape has to be justified to be portrayed on stage. There is a lot of sexual violence in the Ring, and Castorf does not shy away from it. How far you agree with this is going to be based on your own perspective. Bayreuth has not been doing traditional productions since it re-opened after WWII, and actively encourages new ideas. Not all of Castorf’s ideas worked, and I would have liked a greater understanding of the music with the libretto, but it was not dull.

    • I’m ashamed to say that Kosky is Australian. He does have talent playing the piano but his coarseness both in person and his productions are equally embarrassing. I remember years ago reading a review of a mindless film starring Jim Carrey where the reviewer wrote, “stop laughing at this guy; he isn’t funny”. Well, transposing that to Kosky…..

      • Barrie Kosky is one of the most respected directors around, intelligent, and funny, and the audiences in Berlin and Bayeuth loved his work. His style is vastly different from Frank Castorf’s, but I highly enjoy working with both of them.

        • Nadine, I have enjoyed reading your comments. But can you please try to understand why my first reaction to what you’re saying might be “well she would say that wouldn’t she”? I have far too much experience with all this to think that as you put it “the singers share our objections”. Of course you don’t, the ones that would have were weeded out long ago. But Nadine, people are not happy. They feel that their wishes are being ignored. That may be difficult for you to see from ( and I use this term with some hesitation) inside the Bayreuth bubble, but that is how it is and we can’t even begin to think about attracting new audiences until we work out how to keep the old ones.

          • We’re actually attacting new and younger audiences. You’re free to dislike it. I don’t like every production here, and certainly not every bad trashy production I’ve had to do.

          • Bayreuth is, by virtue of it’s unique position and 7 year wait, a little immune to those audience pressures in any case. But please feel free to expand on some of those productions you don’t like, I’d be fascinated. By the way, you do Erda most beautifully…

  • The Frank Castorf production was premiered in 2013, and has been widely reported on and reviewed. It was shown on TV last year, including in the UK on Skyarts.

    I’m amazed that someone would book tickets for the Ring at Bayreuth without checking what the production was going to be like, especially when that information is so widely available.

    • Yes, I naively assumed that Wagner’s family had obeyed his very exacting wishes, and that Bayreuth was the place to see his operas as he intended them.

      • They have obeyed his very exacting wishes:

        “Children! Create something new! Something new! And again something new!”

        • This oft-repeated and misunderstood quotation was not intended to encourage others to mangle his works but to create their own, from scratch. Stage directors as we know them didn’t exist in his day. The pseudo-art of Regietheater is a poor substitute for creative genius.

        • Yes, but how do you define new? I can tell you what it is not: It is not something invented at the top, a pre-defined directive handed down for artists and creators to conform to. That definition is unique to the world of classical music, and exists in clear defiance of everything we know about the great artistic movements in history, most particularly classical music’s own golden era in the 18th and 19th centuries.

      • For someone who claims a “deep study and understanding” of Wagner´s music, not knowing what goes on in Bayreuth since AFTER WWII (!!!!) sounds terribly ignorant. You may like it or not, but dismissing it as “garbage” just because it didn´t fulfill your expectations (which were ridiculous in the first place, since like others have pointed out, the information about the performance was readily available) is quite arrogant.
        BTW, 40 years ago people said the exact same things about Chereau´s Ring; today this is considered the production of the century.
        (Although I cannot even assume that you know this production).

        • Chereau’s Ring is today considered the production of the century- by who? Could have done with a decent conductor for starters.

          • It’s a common misunderstanding. It was called the “Jahrhundert-Ring”, “Ring of the century” because it was premiered in 1976, a century after the first performance. Now many misunderstood the attribute as a judgement about it’s quality.
            It was – as far as the staging is concerned – a very fine Ring IMO. Boulez interpretation on the other hand was a bit too brisk and coldhearted in the ears of many, such a shame.

      • Wieland Wagner, Wagner’s grandson, restarted Bayreuth after World War II in 1951 and made a clean break with the artistic aesthetic that came before – a necessity, as Hitler’s ties to Bayreuth were so strong and so personal and the 3rd Reich’s use of both Wagner’s music and Bayreuth in particular for propaganda purposes. It is absolutely impossible to see a Ring production in Bayreuth with helmets and spears. Having said that, I hated the Castorf Ring. Kosky’s Meistersinger, however, is in my opinion intelligent, well-directed and very musical.

      • You obviously didn’t see Katarina Wagners production of ‘Meistersinger’

        This was an exceptional ring cycle, I’ve seen it three times now, and will miss it. Asvhas been noted it had been around a few years now and anyone wanting to visit any production around the world that has already premised would have been notified to its content, I’m not just talking about the Green Hill here, but Amy opera house. Anyone who doesn’t do their research cannot be on a position to complain I’m afraid..

      • Why on earth should the purpose be to blindly serve one person’s vision of an immensely complex work? It’s perfectly valid to dislike this particular production, but it’s entirely pointless to say that it’s wrong because it differs from Wagner’s original conception. The point of art is to find innovative ways of illuminating ideas, surely, not to dogmatically serve Wagner’s original intentions?

    • You must be joking! Sadly for you, those days are well and truly over, But you must have got to hear some fine singing and playing, and experienced the unique sound that only Bayreuth can offer? Many don’t get that opportunity, and many more of us couldn’t even afford to go. The days of ‘park and bark’ are over.

    • EXACTLY! I went myself this year, and absolutely loved it. I had seen the negative reviews and just expected a gaudy, clichéd critique of western society, as is very easy to do these days with politics etc. How surprised I was to find that much more was laden in the tradition of DDR theatre, and the critiques were far broader, far more subtle, and the metaphors & images referred to things such as the first oil wells in Baku in 1942, and the Crocodiles – well there are a few great articles to go practice your German on, because there are a number of sources. As for using the Alexanderplatz of the 1930s, not to mention the useful “bear” in Siegfried, and the way Castdorf tricks you as audience by making you think he is about to do something, only to drop the idea.
      Frankly, you are never going to compete with the great classic productions of the past, so why not critique different things. After all we no longer live in a world where Dwarves are metaphors for the much hated Jews or aspire towards autocratic leadership & absolute destruction of societal norms!

  • “In this production we’ve seen them in barely-there underwear, inappropriately touched and kissed, beaten, tied to a rope by their neck, undressed, mimicking fellatio and sex, women dressed and treated as prostitutes, cameramen taking up-skirt shots of women artists shown live on an on-stage screen, and even two inflatable crocodiles having intercourse.”

    Sounds like a mainstream Hollywood production, but with much less violence. Great we don’t glorify violence so much here in Europe.

  • 2 dissatisfied UK visitors did not like what they saw in Bayreuth.
    So what ?
    The production was extensively reviewed, mostly very positive, the audience reaction was eg in Goetterdaemmerung enthusiastic, the level of singing was top notch and 2 disgruntled Brits are now publicly whining, which is newsworthy.
    Any more interesting news from Bayreuth, one of the world’s most successful and longest running festivals ?

    Over to John Borstlap and the pitfalls of modern Regietheater…(yawn)…

  • I tried to watch this. Fortunately, I’d recorded it. I have now deleted it as if it was trash – which it was. Not even reconciled to the singing or music direction.
    I paid a huge sum to watch the last Ring production at the ROH and questioned my sanity when Rheingold opened. The following opera’s were marginally better sets and production wise. Redeemed by some superb singing.
    Best value recently was the live Met opera HD transmission £80 for a better than front row seat ! The computer driven “monster” worked for me and the singing was great and the orchestra under Levine produced superb sound. And there was Jay Hunter Morris a truly believable Siegfried!

    • I’m afraid I found the Met production one of the worst I’ve seen. Barely directed at all and saddled with a hopeless set – I suppose it’s the Ring one would expect from a director from Cirque

  • I am going to Bayreuth to see this next week, and I am not going to make up my mind until I have actually seen it. This is my usual policy towards any new production.

    • Quite right, Jane, I’m only expressing my opinion based on the transmitted version. Hope you get value. Most interested to hear your opinion. Safe journey !

    • If you have time, and speak any German at all, try to read some of the articles and videos on the festival site – you’ll get a much better understanding of it from the german speaking world – which is what it focuses on – than the English world.

      How ironic it is, now that I think of it, that this production happens right at the point of the end of the UK and USA as “great powers” in the Western world!!

      • Yes….my degree is in German, and I did my Ph.D on Wagner!!! This is only my second visit to Bayreuth, though, and the first time I will see the RING there. I am really looking forward to seeing this production.

  • Castorf didn’t make it for newcomers. He was catering (in 2013) to Germans bored with it. If you don’t like Regietheater, don’t come to Germany for opera.

    • Olassus, do you really think that German audiences like Regietheater? I make a point of asking people about it every time I go. They hate it, it’s just that the decision makers don’t care what the audience thinks.

      • The reason is, that Regietheater is a form of modernism, which in turn is a reaction to WW II. A modernist German is a good German, so Regietheater – however awful the result – is a signal of being morally on the right side of history. Of course audiences don’t like it, but they swallow the bitter pill, being instructed that being modern is the best protection against fascism.

        It is quite possible – I think it is even probable – that a majority of opera theatre staff in German speaking lands privately don’t like Regietheater at all, but they think it is ‘the right thing to do’. And decency – Anstand – is deeply ingrained in German society, which is to be admired. So, ironically, what often happens with German opera productions, is that a production which is profoundly indecent on all levels is the result of the legitimite intention to be utterly decent. One could say that this is one of the points on which posthumously Hitler won: a perverse process of dehumanization, as executed in works of art which survive from a glorious past culture.

        The tragedy is that opera theatre staff don’t seem to realize there might be alternatives – it is not either a traditional and thus, ‘brown-informed’ approach, or a modern caricature of the works.

        • John, your analysis in this instance is absolutely spot on, and reflects my experience exactly. I agree 100%. For once that is, don’t get too used to it!

          • What a patronizing exposition on “the” German psyche, and apparently not grounded in much evidence! So if you reverse the argument, what does it tell us about Americans that most American opera houses put on stagings that are unabashedly fusty-dusty?

          • To Mrs Eichner: why would it be that Klangkunst and Regietheater are still reigning supreme in Germany? While the rest of the world has moved-on already long ago? Why would German government institutions financially support presentations like the following:



            This because of certain taboos…. and it is not too difficult to discover them. They are there for all to see. Germany has the most developed classical music scene of the world, including opera – however infected by Regietheater – and next to this, the ‘new music scene’ which has got stuck in the postwar Stunde Null. Regietheater is also a kind of Stunde Null, it is all the result of Nachkriegsschuldbewältigung.

        • John,

          Whenever Regietheater is discussed I am reminded of a friend’s list.

          1. Opera is above all a musical phenomenon; its argument is carried on primarily by musical means, and its ability to persuade, or at least beguile, rests heavily on its musical component. Opera is a predominantly musical art form. The main contributor is the composer, not the librettist.

          2. The composers’s agenda is to make music that has impact on the audience; the drama is to him mainly of interest as a vehicle for this end.

          3. Audiences come to the opera to hear works in which the composer’s goal has been successfully achieved.

          4. Audiences’ main interest is thus on the musical side of things; the other aspects of what goes on are generally of less importance and to be seen as icing on the cake.

          5. The quality of the musical presentation by maestro, orchestra, chorus and vocalists is what is of prime importance to the audience.

          6. Very costly, technically complicated productions are very often a misuse of resources, as they do as a rule only marginally improve on the audience’s experience of the music.

          7. Such productions seem primary to serve as vehicles for the promotion of the directors ego and personal agenda.

          8. Musicians (conductors, instrumentalists and singers) should have a decisive influence on the productions to avoid such aberrations.

          9. Modern productions with the action ostensibly transported to another period of time, more often than not also incongruous to the music and without any adaption of the text, are often perceived as insulting to the intelligence of the audience.

          10. Such adaptions will give novices in the audience a false impression of what the creators of the work set out to achieve and the historical context of the music and drama.

          11. In many cases semi-staged or concertante performances may be more satisfactory than many modern adaptions, provided the musical side of things are up to par.

          12. The point above was probably proved by Wieland Wagner in the early 1950s.

          13. A lot can be saved by mounting simple, uncomplicated productions true to the original work, which may be the salvation of many struggling companies.

          14. Much then may be won by returning to basics !!

          • A good list, apart from nr 4:

            “Audiences’ main interest is thus on the musical side of things; the other aspects of what goes on are generally of less importance and to be seen as icing on the cake.”

            That is rather meagre…. the story of an opera has a meaning too and the best opera plots touch on universal human concerns: love versus plight, struggle against fate, unfulfilled / fulfilled love, the unfathomable side of life, the cruelty of politics, etc. etc. and where these themes are expressed with good music, the experience is compelling. The advantage of universal themes which address the human condition is that they can be interpreted again and again, in different ways. Which is something else from Regietheater which does not start from that point.

      • Yes, a great many do in fact. A good 50% like to see something new, meaning radically different, when it comes to the warhorses — and Wagner’s Ring is a warhorse in its totality.

        It is also generally true “that the decision-makers don’t care what the audience thinks.” These people are privileged, and I know of no instance in the last ten years when an Intendant here has been removed from his or her job by the relevant and empowered politician, usually a “culture minister.” (The Lyon guy would be an exception, but the circumstance were different.)

        • No way 50%, at least not at Deutsche Oper Berlin, although I’m sure some might argue they’re a slightly more conservative audience. But in any case no one is complaining about intelligently re-imagined productions that respect the work they are presenting. Rather it’s the whole ‘race to the bottom of inappropriateness’ thing where, as the term suggests, it becomes all about the director to the detriment of the opera.

  • Ce Ring est à l’évidence le troisième plus extraordinaire que j’ai vu.Apres Wieland et Chereau.
    Dommage pour ceux qui ferment leurs yeux et ne veulent pas réfléchir..
    Ils n’ont pas les yeux bandés mais des œillères.

  • I can assure you none of us participants were bullied into anything, none of us have to do anything we are uncomfortable with, and those of us there from the start often were part of the creative process that led to every scene. The vast majority of us actually are huge fans of this production (including the crocodiles!) and love the challenge of the raw, authentic, disturbing but also moving style of theater. If you dislike it, feel free to criticize, but don’t assume any of the singers share your objections. Having sung several Ring-productions in the past 11 years, this one is easily one of my favorites.

    • I’m curious; as a woman are you happy continuing this objectification of women and the “normalizing” of violence against the feminine? And as an artist are you comfortable participating in theatre you know Wagner would not have permitted?

      • I feel neither objectified nor violated, I think we captured the essence of the conflict between the two characters. I doubt you or I could safely say what Wagner may or may not have permitted had he been alive today.

        • Also, Wagner certainly includes rape in his works (Siegfried as Gunther capturing Brünnhilde), and Wotan quite clearly talks about forcing Erda (“mit Liebeszauber zwang ich die Wala”).

          • Ms Weissmann, thank you for giving us a personal view of the production, and I’d say your performances were superb, both vocally and dramatically. I actually thought the Siegfried Act III scene one was very clever, and brought the line “Du bist – nicht, was du dich wähnst!” into sharp focus.

            I wasn’t convinced on the crocodiles, but you can’t have everything. Rheingold was excellent.

            I certainly didn’t doubt any of the cast were working against the director. I saw this in 2014, and it certainly raised a lot of questions, which I still think about today, and so in that respect it was a very succesful production. As Winifred Wagner said about the Chereau ring “isn’t it better to be furious than to be bored?”.

          • Ah, I think this is a bit ambiguous. Does it mean he forced her to have sex with him, or that he forced her to prophesy? I’ve always interpreted it in the latter sense.

          • Hi Nadine- There is no rape in any stage direction or libretto. The first scene when Siegfried goes to Brunnhilde in the appearance of Gunther and says “Nun, Notung, zeuge du, dass ich in Zuchten warb. Die Treue wahrend dem Bruder, trenne mich Von seiner Braut”. (Excuse my German typos on this phone) Does this not mean Now, Notung, witness here how I shall keep my vow. To keep true to my brother, separate me now from his wife!” ? And I believe in the versions Wagner approved, the sword was placed between them and they slept next to each other.
            The second instance is when Wotan says about Erde “Mit Liebeszauber zwang ich die Wala”: Doesn’t Liebeszauber literally mean magic love? (which I understand to mean a chaste sexual love rather than a selfish lust) And zwang is sometimes translated as forced but can often mean compelled or obligated or pulled/drew forth. Is this correct? I understand it that he compelled her to prophesy and share her wisdom, not to have non consensual intercourse. I see Erde as a representation of the divine feminine so i found it particularly distasteful and ignorant, that Castorff represented her by giving oral sex to a pimp.
            Ano a word about the incest; there is just the instance of Sieglinde and Siegmund being twins. But this is an old device of these ancient stories. I believe they are representing the twin souls (the human soul and divine soul within each person and the aim is for them to unite). And the often used way to represent this in story and on stage is with twins.
            Chastity (ie renunciation of selfish lust for a different kind of sexual love) is represented throughout his works and personal writings.
            We have been told, from music college, to concert programme, many things about Wagner that upon research I find to be totally incorrect.

            Thank you very much for your beautiful singing which I enjoyed very much once I had closed my eyes. I send you love and hope that you may come to a different interpretation of Erde. I look forward to hearing you sing again.

        • “I am not interested in having my works performed; I am exclusively interested in having them performed as I imagined them to be. Those who do not want or are not able to do that should turn it down.’ Richard Wagner.

          • Ms Peacock, if you haven’t heard the news, Wagner has been dead for over 130 years. He isn’t around to be offended by how anyone treats his works. But all of his operas are long since out of copyright, so if you don’t like what others are doing with his music, then put your own damn troupe together to perform it instead of complaining about what floats other people’s boat.

          • Christopher Culver, that was a comment that once again displays your complete ignorance as to how this art-form functions. “Put your own damn troupe together”? To perform Wagner? What an utterly clueless thing to suggest. And there was nothing in Kerenza Peacock’s original comment that was at all unreasonable.

          • Just two observations about the scenes in question: Yes, according to the text Siegfried places a sword between himself and Brünnhilde, but if you listen closely to the music, there is certainly violence involved when Siegfried wrests the ring from her finger. This is totally gratuituous on his side – is he simply collecting a trophy? – , and it doesn’t take much directorial imagination to translate this act of violence into a rape scene. As to the second scene, “Liebeszauber” is quite neutral, but I would translate it as “love magic” (as in “love potion”), not “magic love”. And “zwang” certainly means “forced”, not some kind of chaste compulsion; even under the thrall of alliteration Wagner could have found many less, well, force-full verbs.

    • You had the best wigs!
      I really did feel the projection of Freia and Erda as a competition for Wotan’s affection was more powerful than a static defence of marriage. And Freia was very hand with her whip…..

      It certainly made the Ring a more “human” story – especially at the end, where human greed is ever more destructive as a force than any other kind of greed…

    • Nadine Weissmann! Do you think the production would be applauded by Wagner himself? Can you be absolutely sure about that? If not, I think you took part in a morally disturbing distortion of a great masterpiece.
      If on the other hand you absolutely and without any doubt can understand and love every small detail of this version of a dark masterpiece, and be sure that every detail was according to Wagners personal wishes, you might be right. But only if you really can explain every detail, every note, every shade and every image on stage!

      • I can be as sure he would applaud it as you can be sure he wouldn’t. Morally disturbing… is what Wagner’s stories themselves are. This production highlights that in quite innovative and evocative ways.

    • I absolutely loved this production in 2015. Your performance of Erda was brilliant.
      Yes it was challenging to watch, but I can watch a traditional production on a DVD!
      I am sure there would be far less discussion about a traditional version.
      Thrilled to have seen the new Meistersingers last week as well as parsifal.

  • I would like to point out, that as a performer I have participated in the objectification of women in the classical and pop industries, by agreeing to do or wear certain things in the past. It is only recently that I have come to full awareness of the consequences of my actions. And I speak out to try and awaken other artists.

  • Both musicians are right of course. But this problem is as old as Regietheater itself…. haven’t they noticed before? They seemed to be really surprised.

    Maybe they cultivated too much their own comfort zone & the Bayreuth visit broke the bubble. They should have informed themselves beforehand.

    Ruiz: simplistic, commercial, unbearable easy-listening music:


    Maybe he should have listened more carefully to the music in the Ring?

    Mrs Peacock is a real professional though, cultivating the pleasant side of music:



    Both are in the commercial side of music. Maybe that’s why they had no idea what was awaiting them. They should have visited the Nervenkrankenhaus after the performances.

  • Frank Castorff clearly hates women. There wasn’t a single female character portrayed with dignity.
    There were two teenage boys in the audience. They could have received important life teachings, but instead now might think that Wagner wrote his masterpiece like this. We should all be seeking truth and beauty, not following egoic desires.

    • “We should seek truth and beauty.”
      Sure. But, sometimes, you can’t have both.
      Then TRUTH is what we SHOULD seek!
      If you still seek beauty instead, then you are in denial or a coward.
      Your boys can take the truth, even if it’s not beautiful. Particularly if their parents are on their side to explain the emotional dissonance.

      • I reply to Anon: Shouldn’t we be seeking Truth AND Beauty? And if on on occasion we have to make a choice then, we choose truth and put up with some ugliness. But this plot was not truth- the most important parts of the story were removed and extra ugliness added in.

  • The entire Bayreuth situation is a mirror of the attitude towards Wagner in Germany and maybe all over EU. I do not go to Bayreuth anymore since 2007. These productions have nothing to do with Wagner’s artistical and philosophical goals. It is a tragedy! He himself would close the house if still around as a ‘spy’ these days. – The team of the Ring and all the other poductions have no idea about the basic ‘red thread’ in these operas. Of course it is about human existence but does it need to be staged on such a low level of consiousness? This approach is totally wrong.

  • “Kinder, schafft Neues” Wagner – this phrase is aways used as legimite excuse…ha, ha….he did want to see new thoughts which do uplift humans. This is the eternal question for earthly souls…where do I go…down or up…..we have the choice…

  • How sick that blow up crocodiles do not have the benefit of employment rights or union protection; at least the performers have the choice to put it on!

    • The Crocodiles Performing Union in Kairo has already protested at Bayreuth that their brand is used without permission.

  • I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy the production. That must be a real shame. But it’s not really Frank Castorf’s fault if you chose not to engage with his work. When I went last year, I will admit I was left scratching my head after Das Rheingold. But I figured, there’s got to be something to this, and I have to spend another 13 hours with this production. So I went back to my little pension and I started reading through the enormous 13,000-word essay on Castorf’s Ring published in The Wagner Journal by Edward and Paula Bortnichak. I came back to Walküre greatly enlightened, and I absolutely loved everything that followed.

    I find it a little saddening that somebody who professes to love Wagner would shut their eyes upon sight of something new rather than attempt to understand it. I cannot imagine Wagner would approve. I suppose you could argue that there is nothing there to understand, but then you’d have to wonder what Castorf and his team spent a couple of years working on, and what exactly the Bortnichaks managed to say about it in that 13,000 words appreciation. Given the amount of time and money you have to spend travelling to Bayreuth to attend the Ring, I’d have thought an open mind and a few hours’ additional reading would be a relatively small price to pay in order to actually appreciate the experience.

    • If somebody does need 13.000 words to explain a masterpiece which is perfect in the original, we would call this nowadays ‘copyright infringement’. I have read most books,original letters of Wagner and I do say that people/artists should read these items first, but if a common base of ethical ideals is not there, discussion will be without result.

      • I’m sorry, I don’t quite follow your argument. Which, according to the guiding principle behind most of these comments, must make you wrong.

  • BRAVO ! Bravissimo !!! Telle est exactement mon sentiment face à ces productions…
    Autrefois, faire la critique d’une production consistait à critiquer l’esthétique des décors et des costumes et à s’interroger sur la justesse et l’originalité de la gestuelle des acteurs-chanteurs en regard de la musique. Aujourd’hui, faire la critique d’une production, telle que celle du RING de Castorf ou des Maîtres Chanteurs de Kosky consiste à se demander si l’histoire qui nous est racontée sur la musique de Wagner est, EN ELLE-MÊME, cohérente ou non !!!
    Voir mon site :

    • Mais oui, c’est trop difficile à créer le regie d’un opéra de Wagner, et c’est aussi le résultat des demandes du compositeur.

  • I’m baffled by the kind of person, in 2017, who goes to all the considerable effort and expense of obtaining tickets for a Bayreuth Ring, books hotels, travels there, the whole thing…and then apparently expects horned helmets and flying horses.

    Who goes halfway across Europe to the opera, and spends that sort of money, without reading any reviews and without any awareness of the content of a 5-year old production (that’s actually been televised in the UK). Without doing the most basic research? Who? And please, next time, can I have their tickets instead?

    • I think it is wrong to suggest that those who voice objections to this kind of production are necessarily therefore crying out for ‘horned helmets’.

      • Hear, hear.

        I’ve seen some modernized versions of operas which I’ve enjoyed tremendously, but then, they didn’t insist on including ridiculous unrelated stage elements, or rely on nudity for shock value.

        I’ve seen some Bohèmes that were re-imagined in a more modern setting, and the story fit, no one was naked, no flying rubber alligators infested the Parisian streets, no robot hands or laser-pointer eyes (a dreadful Turandot I had the displeasure of seeing).

        So modernize the costuming a bit (vikings didn’t have horns on their helmets, according to recent research), or set it in a more fantasy-like environment…

        But there is a huge leap from “modernizing” to adding elements that have nothing to do with the opera (gigantic heads of Mao and Stalin? really?).

        I honestly don’t care if the director believes a certain scene represents some psycho-sexual inner turmoil. If it isn’t in the stage directions, it shouldn’t be in the opera.

        What’s wrong with watching and listening to an opera, in as pure a form as it can be, simple, straightforward, respectful of its origins, and making up your own mind about any implied psycho-drama, or hidden meaning, or undercurrent of sexual violence?

        The problem with Regietheater is that it only allows the director’s vision to come through and leaves no room for the music and the original text to speak for themselves. It never allows the audience to form their own ideas regarding any narrative elements that could be implied yet never explicitly stated by the librettist.

  • Visuals are overrated anyway in opera.
    How was the singing? How was the orchestra?

    Also, the Castorf Ring has it’s controversial moments, but it’s also quite full of interesting ideas. OK, the copulating crocodiles, metaphor for the uncontrolled wall street crocodiles(?), were a bit confusing, but the rest, the main theme, the control over the Oil being the new Ring, the twilight of the ‘gods’ happening at Wall Street, that made a lot of sense. It’s probably not the best production of the Ring ever (which is? Chereau?) but it’s absolutely within artistic sense and sensibility.

    • The staging is an equal part of the experience. It isn’t “over-rated”. It is essential to the very existence of an opera. That’s like saying that film isn’t necessary to the experience of going to the cinema, only the soundtrack, dialogues, and sound effects are.

      • I didn’t say it’s not necessary. I said it’s overrated.
        No, the staging is NOT an equal part.
        Do a simple experiment in your imagination.
        Take away the staging and you have ‘only’ the music.
        Then do the opposite, take away the music and you have only the staging.
        Would you still say the staging is an equal part?
        What value has the staging without the music? Nothing.
        What value has the music without the staging? Any value. It doesn’t need it to reach you, touch you.

        • In opera, what we see on stage is what happens on the outside; what we hear is what happens on the inside. Both sides complement each other, but the element which gives the production meaning is the inside of things, not the outside. But the outside gets much more meaning and effect, as stage craft, when the inside is expressed eloquently through good music. Therefore we still enjoy, in certain ways, Wagner operas in spite of the plots, it is the symphonic music which gives the plots meaning – or seem to give them meaning and that is often enough.

          This question about the combination of words and music in opera has followed the art form continuously since its first flowering in the early 17th century.

  • Il existe en francais un blog appelé “Wanderer”et qui depuis le début du Ring Casdorf éclaire très intelligemment les ressorts et enjeux de cette mise en scène inoubliable.
    Voilà pour ceux qui veulent réfléchir.

  • I am a bit puzzled that Kerenza Peacock has a problem with ‘lust and greed being displayed every second, distracting from the virtues being described in the music’. Has she really not grasped what the RING is about? That people are destroyed by lust and greed?

    • Hello Jane,
      Yes I have grasped that basic concept in the Ring. But I believe he is also showing us how to escape the cycle of samsara perpetuated by egos of lust and greed, by telling us about the virtues we should cultivate in their place. If you remove all the virtues, you end up with a very dark place. This hinders the transcendental experience one can have with a master’s work of art.

  • Seattle “green” Ring. Musically excellent, staging something Richard would have recognized. Hope they bring it back.

  • Was there every really a production with horned helmets? The idea seems to derive from Arthur Rackham’s illustrations, but actually the helmets mostly have RAVEN WINGS, not horns.

      • There is an excellent article about the invention of the horned helmet by Carl Doepler for the 1876 Ring, and how it has shaped our vision of the old Norsemen ever since: Roberta Frank, “The Invention of the Viking Horned Helmet”, in International Scandinavian and Medieval Studies in Memory of Gerd Wolfgang Weber, ed. Michael Dallapiazza, Olaf Hansen, Preben Meulengracht Sørensen, Yvonne S. Bonnetain (Trieste: Edizioni Parnaso, 2000), pp. 199-208-

  • When I asked the nice German lady sitting next to me during “Die “Walkuere” what she thought of the Castorf “Rheingold,” her answer was, “Es tut Weh” (“It hurts”). Sums it up for me!

    • That is what Regietheater directors always want: to hurt people, because they think that audience expectations are ALWAYS stupid, lazy projections of an outdated, bourgeois taste, they want to wake-up the audience from its supposed comatose slumber, alienate them, so that they become aware again of things. Such mentality is born from a profound contempt for audiences, in a generalized way. ‘They are stupid, we’ll get some pepper in their behind’, is the conventional Regietheater thought. The idea was born at the beginning of the last century when artists objected to stiff, conventional cultural traditions as preferred by a narrow-minded society. But times have changed and such audiences have disappeared, but many directors still think that ‘the audience’ of yore is still around. It is an entirely outdated position.

  • Oh please, get over it, it’s just an opera production. Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean that no-one else did. There are no right or wrong ways to stage an opera, just ones that provoke different responses and opinions. You’re entitled not to like it, but you’re not entitled to say that it shouldn’t be produced in this way. I am quite sure in your lifetime you will see many a production that you like.

    • Yes, agreed.

      The best productions are surely those so acute and imaginative that they serve to satisfy the newcomer and the jaded alike.

      Not impossible, but rare.

    • It seems obvious to me that in art, there is no ‘anything goes’, but an ongoing effort to find something of value and meaning. Where opposite intentions have been at work, it is normal that debate erupts. Opera productions are not ‘just opera productions’ but representations of important works of art. When an old painting in the Louvre is vandalized, you don’t say: ‘O, it’s only a painting, get over it’. The joker Marcel Duchamp (the ‘creator’ of the urinal which he exhibited as a ‘fountain’ in 1917) painted a moustache over a photograph of the Mona Lisa – but imagine he had done so on the original painting. (Later-on he published just the photo of the same canvas, without moustache, so: just a picture of the original, and called it: ‘Mona Lisa, shaved’. In this category of irony and jokes Regietheater often places itself.)

      • But that is precisely the difference – the production is temporary, it does no lasting harm to the work of art, unlike someone vandalising a painting. Theatre seems at ease with radical interpretations of Shakespeare, I don’t see why it should be any different with opera.

        • Yes, that seems a logical conclusion. But the difference between – say – a photograph of a visual work of art and an opera production is, that a painting exists all the time as a physical object, while an opera only exists when performed, and a performance requires great efforts and lots of money. So, it would be logical to expect a presentation which does as much as possible justice to the work. WHen it is merely a plaything for a stage director, the whole itnention of the work is damaged and, for that eprformance, its identity. Fortunately there are always other possibilities for performance, but given all the investments it seems illegitimate to treat opera works with such dedain.

  • Ignoring the personal insults, which just hinder high quality critical discussion, thank you for some of the excellent points discussed on here.
    Yes, as I said, I made a mistake. I jumped to a conclusion about Bayreuth and the few photographs of the production I had seen, and the singer’s opinions, and thought it would be a production worth seeing. Can you forgive me? However I do not regret booking my trip at all, and we thoroughly enjoyed the music. And the interesting discussions with the many audience members who disliked it, or booed or walked out.

    I don’t understand why it matters when I first read about or saw the production, however. I would still be making the same point. Which is that I believe Wagner’s art was intended to be nourishing to the soul. And any Wagner lover is responsible for asking it remains that way.

    And should anyone wish to test my perceived lack of understanding of Wagner, I would be happy to talk to them over a cup of tea.

  • Karenza – thank you for bringing up the topic. I have presented my point of view and talks about the trancendental background since years to the public. Germans do not dare often to go into this direction and artists still do like Bayreuth in their Bio. Many give up their true feelings and go for a season or two…..as long as Mrs. Merkel will protect Bayreuth with its present trend there might be no change. I guess we agree that a modern layout of a Wagner opera still could show perfectly well Wagner’s intentions. I have seen these kind of works often but rarely in Germany. Strange country somehow.

  • The following is not unique to me, but it’s worthy of being mentioned again:

    If a director wants to stage a production as this one has been described, why not just write a new opera? Why graft this onto Wagner’s music, especially considering how much Wagner would have hated it?

    This comment is not merely a way dismiss this production. I want to see and hear new operas.

    • Exactly.

      And there are regularly new works written where stage directors can happily unleash their ego presentation and abject tastes, and which are so much more ‘in tune’ with the general aesthetic 20C outlook of the stage direction profession. The problem is the cultural difference between 20C people and pre-modern works, which were born in a totally different world. It is always the differences which are highlighted in Regietheater, never the universal elements which are always there since the human being does not change very much under the surface. It is these universal traits of the human species which keeps opera alive.

  • I read the entire discussion here.

    And it shows but one thing:
    the brainwashing that was inflicted by fear has worked almost perfectly.

    As always it is fascinating to see how a few “opinion leaders” do not hesitate to aggressively defend something – and in some cases even using personal insults – that has been decided to be the “official opinion”. Like in politics those days…

    If Ms. Weissmann says that she or other singers were not forced to do anything she might believe this. The “Stockholm Syndrome” upon singers is a well known fact. From the first day of study singers are told to “accept the reality” and “adjust”.
    The opera and music world – as the entire entertainment world – is lead by mostly insane men who have great fun to destroy something they can’t fathom and have not created.
    A lot of these “directors” hate woman, abuse woman and use woman. And not only woman as we got to know lately by some shocking interviews from Hollywood and the music world.

    And those singers who agree to this utter crap are wilful servants in the destruction of opera, music and the arts in general. They act worse than prostitutes. And it is still totally understandable. As the pressure is massive!

    I persoanlly have not met more than 1 out of 100 singer who genially would agree with the crap that is called “German Regietheater” and still all the 99 others are prostituting themselves as they know that if they don’t do it someone else would. And that is exactly the brain wash I was taking about first. People are manipulated by fear! Fear of not surviving, fear of losing the job, fear of not being liked/loved, fear that the opera director or the “director” might not give them other jobs, fear of not being “part of the club”, etc.

    Maybe Ms. Weissmann is the 1 out of the 99 who truthfully likes this production or the “Deutsche Regietheater”. I don’t know so I can’t comment on that. However the fact is that most of the singers involved in this hate it and only do it for fame, food or survival.

    What I do indeed find surprising is that anyone would still go to Beyreuth in order to see Wagner. It is the last place I would go to. Katharina Wagner is not a very refined or educated person why therefore does anyone believe that she would choose some refined “directors”. It is all about a sick version of “sexuality” and deconstruction.

    I sincerely believe that the self-hate of Germans since WWII is so profound that they have to destroy everything that is beautiful – especially in the arts.

    Before the shit-storm brakes over me (which I actually always rather enjoy) I would like to say that “Deutsches Regietheater” has absolutely NOTHING to do with modern productions. In fact a “modern production” in the true sense of the word will always be amazing as it will always respect the opus!
    I, in fact, can not see how a production today can not be modern and use all technical possibilities we have today and – of course – also introduce present themes. Opera and music is here to move, make us think and look more carefully onto the world, human nature and politics.

    “German Regietheater” and its international “children” however are based on the idea of “Regiekonzept” which means nothing else then: “I don’t really know what to do with this work so I put a “Konzept” over it so nobody can criticise me and – more important – nobody will know I actually have no plan.”

    I Mr. C. writes 13.000 words of his ideas of the Ring I can just laugh.
    I can easily write 50.000 words within a few days talking about anything and it will sound “intelligent” although it will be a brain-wanking pile of crap.

    And for those who quote Wagner that he demanded “new things”:
    Yes, he wanted that people think and search. He did certainly not demand that charlatans destroy his works.

    The good thing is though: this phase will pass. And once it’s over nobody will remember “German Regietheater” and its international copy-cats whilst Wagner, Mozart, Verdi, etc. will still be around and have a ball!

    • Hilarious how someone from the outside claims to know how the performers involved feel. And charming to think that because you disagree, everyone else must be brainwashed. I know what my colleagues and I think. Many of them have been performing at the highest levels for decades, and I have sung with many of them for years all over Europe – they don’t hold back about their likes or dislikes when it comes to productions. We all have horror stories about bad theater, idiotic directors with faulty concepts and boring, agonizing results. I myself have turned down singing lead roles with certain directors or productions for that reason, and many others have as well. I wasn’t a fan of the Dutchman production here that I jumped in for, and also find the Parsifal dull and littered with old-fashioned clichés, but some enjoy it and they are entitled to like them. A few of the cast aren’t fans of this Ring, but I can safely say the majority are, and will be sad to see it go. Good theater is good theater, whether modern or traditional. And no, in creating this Ring, nobody was forced to do anything; in fact, the atmosphere at rehearsals was that of profound respect towards the singers, and towards Maestro Petrenko, who attended every rehearsal, and only insisted a handful of times on changing a few positions of the staging for acoustic purposes. It is sad that you seem so stuck in your ways that you cannot fathom other opinions and must result in insulting those who stand by them. We are proud of this production, and we reached new audiences with it, especially since the online ticket sales were now possible and no longer required a wait of several years. I have sung far more traditional productions as Erda, and enjoyed some of them, but this one will have a special place in my heart. And I’d welcome working with Frank Castorf again at any time, who is certainly not a charlatan, of which there are many out there.

      • Thank you for a voice from inside the profession. The way singers react to a production style, will always say something about their own aesthetics and insights, together with the production concerned. Still, it does not address the central issue of how to treat an opera – trying to do justice to the intentions of the maker, or spreading a concept over it that is the brain child of the director and which may differ greatly from the ideas of the original maker of the work.

        • Liking a certain production does not reflect on general aesthetics. I can enjoy rather traditional productions such as David McVicar’s “Julius Caesar” from Glyndebourne or Robert Carsen’s “Onegin” at the Met tremendously. I also love some of the old productions at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, like “Tosca” with the paper maché Castel Sant’ Angelo, but those can be lacking if the individual characters remain two-dimensional. Simply putting modern costumes and sets over a story to make it more current seldom works. As I said, many of us feel this production captured the intentions and ideas quite well in context of our society. We’ve been part of plenty of Regietheater pieces where that wasn’t the case.

          • OK….. an eclectic taste is always preferable above fanaticism. But: “……. many of us feel this production captured the intentions and ideas quite well in context of our society.” How important is ‘the context of our society’ in relation to a work from the past? Is it not the other way around, that we should try to understand a work in the context of its own society? Should the performance of an old work express contemporary concerns, i.e. of our own time? I find that entirely wrong because it erodes the work. If a work is really good, it touches upon universal human concerns and that means that it automatically will express also OUR concerns. To lay it thick on, is implying that the work has no longer anything meaningful to say to us, and that is PRECISELY the 20C postwar modernist aesthetic and political position.

            It may be no superfluous luxury to mention that Wagner’s many twisted plots in the Ring were, for 19C audiences, entirely alien, they could not possibly identify with all those Ur-teutonic people doing all those bad things: 19C bourgeois elites were rather classicized and not particularly ‘romantic’, that came much later. Only in the 20th century, with hindsight, it became possible to see those plots as metaphors for 19C industrialist/capitalist society, but disguised in a garb totally – perversily – different, turning 19C concerns into some timeless pre-Christian myth to give it some universal quality. (Around 1900 Wagnerism had gained so much influence in German culture, that audiences began to identify themselves with certain aspects of Ringlike ‘heroism’, as appeard in WW I, while the obvious message where that heroism led to, was ignored.)

            Wagner choose the mythological garb of the Ring to say something about the world in a timeless, universal, mythological way, and that is why it seems perverse to make the Ring say something particular about our own time, which is making the timeless timely again and that is against the nature of the work.

          • “How important is ‘the context of our society’ in relation to a work from the past? Is it not the other way around, that we should try to understand a work in the context of its own society?”

            The context of our society, of our times, is inseparable from our own perception. So it is simply impossible to understand, to perceive, a work of art, in the context of its time.
            It is as it is.
            The wish to be able to go back to 1876 and perceive the Ring in the context of its time is understandable, it’s our natural curiosity.
            But it’s impossible. Even if we had a time traveling machine, we still would bring our brain that was shaped and it’s perception will always interpret any sensory input based on our modern times gestation.
            That’s perceptional psychology and phenomenology for you, for all of us.

          • To Anon:

            “…. it is simply impossible to understand, to perceive, a work of art, in the context of its time.”

            For people lacking imagination, and who never read historical material, and are rather ignorant of psychology, this may seem so, but it is definitely not true. A bit of reading will suffice to fully imagine how it would be to live in whatever premodern period, because the basic human elements are the same everywhere and in any period, maybe with the exception of the neanderthalers and music critics.

            “Although the human emotions are always more or less the same, they are open to thousands of variations, thousands of possibilities like the immensity of musical expression can be related back to the seven notes of the scale.” Said Marguerite Yoourcenar, who was able to conjure-up the immensity of the 2nd century Roman world in her ‘Memoirs of Hadrian’. An entirely accessible book, based upon thorough study of all available sources.

          • And now I can report that I have seen this production and was impressed and convinced by your subtle and nuanced characterisation of Erda. Well done, congratulations to you and all your colleagues.

      • I am very much looking forward to seeing this RING, and I have enjoyed eading your reasonably-argued comments.

      • A special place in my heart too. The Erda/Wanderer scene in SIEGFRIED has to be one of the high points of this RING, well staged and well performed, with Erda taking a more active role than is the case in many productions….That was what I loved about it, that she INTERACTED with Wotan and made her opinion obvious. And that you both sang so well. And the rude gesture that Erda makes to the waiter when he tries to present her with the bill!!

  • Kerenza Peacock is correct when she says that there is no rape scene in GOETTERDAEMMERUNG, as Siegfried laid his sword between them. This is clear in the RING, it is not so clear in the sources, especially the NIBELUNGENLIED. When Brunhild and Kriemhild quarrel, Siegfried is asked to swear.,……not that he didn’t rape Brunhild, but that HE DIDN’T BOAST ABOUT IT. A rather important distinction.

  • Que ceux qui ne veulent pas réfléchir restent à la maison et regardent des émissions pour Bisounours.
    Que ceux qui confondent Gesamtkunstwerk et Harmonie der Welt ne s’occupent pas de Wagner et arrêtent d’emmerder la plus grande Erda de nos jours…

  • Joseph II : Brillant comment! Fear is controlling our society on all levels and most do not know that they are in the ‘arms of fear’. I do agree with you: this phase will pass and nobody will regret that it is gone.

  • Opera composers not only write notes on staff paper. They create a total art work, and Wagner more than all. The role of the director is to interpret their intentions and serve them with respect, even if they are not alive any longer. The two descriptions I have just read depict artistic crimes looking for cheap sensations, and are horrendous especially in Bayreuth of all places. I vow not to go to this admirable opera house as long as the present artistic directors are in power,

  • “In an opera, the plot, the text, and the music are all part of a single whole. Those are things that are set, and that can’t be changed. Period.” These are the words of an operatic fundamentalist.

    • No, they are only points of departure, because the ways in which these can be realized are manyfold. Precisely because a production style of an opera cannot be fixed for all time, the idea that the production should be part of a whole and do justice to the original intentions of the maker, has to be the basis upon which to work.

  • And I have a question: Is there any opera company, anywhere in the world, that still does a “literalist” Ring Cycle, that looks much as it would have looked back in 1876?

    • I thought that was the Seattle opera house, creating a tradition of ‘oldfashioned’ Wagner productions, complete with helmets, armor and some occasional live stock.

    • There is photographic evidence, and probably written evidence……I suppose it might be worth trying, but would it be particularly interesting? It might be just a curiosity.

      • Goodness Jane Susanna Ennis, would it be particularly interesting? Are you really suggesting these works are only worth performing when radically re-interpreted? It would be absolutely fascinating. A re-creation of the original performances in the version built to perform them. That’s a century of ticket sales right there.

        • No, obviously I am suggesting it MIGHT be interesting……I would be curious to see something like that, although I will admit to a…..well, shall we say a slight preference for varied re-interpretations. There have also been Wagner performances on ‘period instruments’….

  • Good god, this discussion is tedious.

    Here’s my suggestion: if you don’t like Regietheater, don’t attend Frank Castorf productions. And if you don’t like Regietheater and you DO attend a Frank Castorf production, chalk it up to experience and stop making it your life’s mission to ruin it for everyone else.

    You don’t own theatre, you don’t own Wagner, and you don’t own Bayreuth. If that ever changes, feel free to stage whatever productions you want. In the meantime, there are plenty of other opera houses in the world.

    • Good God, if you think the conversation so tedious, why don’t you just go read something else and stop trying to shut an important discussion down. This conversation alongside others related to the deplorable state of this art-form, is just getting started.

      • *Just* getting started? It’s been going on for half a decade – and that’s just about this one production. The actual conversation about the “deplorable state of this art-form” has been going on for as long as there have been people who don’t get it.

        (Touché on your first point though.)

        • Tristan, the conversation will only properly begin when those who have exempted themselves from it, namely the actual decision-makers, join it and more importantly, listen. People are frustrated because they feel their voice is being ignored. This no way to run a living, breathing art-form.

          • I hate to tell you, but the reason they’re not joining the discussion is because they aren’t interested in your opinion. Like I say: when you run Bayreuth, then you can decide what to put on there. Until then, you can basically like it or lump it. If you don’t want to go, there is a very, very, very long line of people behind you who would love to.

      • Remind me again where most of the money to cover the costs of running the Wagner’s little fiefdom comes from? Hint- it’s not ticket sales. My second point would be that my criticism is not specifically directly at Bayreuth. My third, that if you disregard the wishes of your audience, your art-form is dead, or at best a cult. Utterly devoid if meaning.

        • Classical music and classical operas are art forms where three parties form together the playing field. Leave-out one and it is no longer what it was. The idea that you can completely ignore audiences has its origins in the 19th century and reached its apotheosis in the sixties and seventis when there was enough money around to compensate for empty halls.

  • “There have also been Wagner performances on ‘period instruments’….”
    Let’s keep them out of it if we can!

  • Why not adapt the music and libretto too? In fact PLEASE change it; to a track by a rapper like 50 cents or Kanye West. His words and lyrics would fit much better to what we saw on stage. I have recorded on tracks by KanYe and others in the past. Until I became conscious of how damaging they were to my psyche and those of their fans. Frank Castorff’s production was the visual equivalent. And I am simply asking people to become more conscious of it.

    Some people have said that I can just choose to not go to watch productions like this and keep quiet. But may I take Wagner out of the discussion for a moment? An example: PORN. I made a personal decision to never watch porn and could keep quiet about it. But I want to speak out about it because I believe it is damaging to our psyches and society. It is the same with this Castorff issue.

    And speaking of porn, Castorff’s treatment of every woman on stage was disgusting. Dressed as prostitutes, constantly groped, made to straddle and pleasure the male characters, constantly coercing and seducing, and then being forced into intercourse, and the only way any woman achieved anything in his alternative plot was by using her sexuality. Can we please tell a different story?

    The argument that “it’s everywhere” doesn’t hold water. The “normalisation” of this treatment of women in art is dangerous. It desensitises people. Our senses our easily tricked and if someone is constantly exposed to these images, they need more and more extremes to shock or please.
    An American film director I know recently spoke out about the dangers of porn and how the brutalisation of women in porn has influenced how they are portrayed on TV and in advertising. And now theatre, I would add. He talks of female characters stripped “of personality, agency and dimensionality”, (as Castorff did in my opinion) so “they are reduced to objects that exist purely for men’s sexual pleasure”. I believe the more and more we are shown this image of woman as sex object, the more unhealthy society becomes. And the more difficult it is to see the true qualities of the feminine. And the harder it becomes to argue for equality of the sexes. I feel very strongly that as a humanity, we have to resist these portrayals in art, TV, ANYWHERE, with strength, for the health of our civilisation.

    • There will be (cynical) people who would deride such comments as naive, but the truth is that this comment is entirely appropriate. Freud already made the common sense observation that civilization is based upon suppressing, taming, of the animal instincts, and the fabric of society is meant to help to keep them in check. Where the presentation of low life is celebrated in public space like in performances, these can be considered signals of society falling apart. Exactly the same type of ‘entertainment’ was practiced in the latest stages of Roman civilization and we know what happened next.

  • I am fully supporting of new ways to present old operas. Last week I performed in an opera inside notorious Dartmoor prison. The prisoners were the choir. During a solo, when I was on stage surrounded by inmates, i could see the faces of prisoners in the audience gradually change. I saw how the story, music and production, working in harmony, were giving them a transformative experience. Can anyone truly say they were transformed by Castorff’s play?

  • I find it odd that Nadine Weissmann, who played Erda, described Wagner’s stories as “morally disturbing”, when he has written many essays on how they are for teaching ethics, morality and virtue.

    “I meant in my Nibelung myth…by showing how from the first wrongdoing a whole world of evil arose, and consequently fell to pieces in order to teach us the lesson that we must recognise evil and tear it up by the roots, and raise in its stead a righteous world” .
    “This is the lesson that we have to learn from the history of mankind; to will what necessity imposes, and ourselves bring it about. The creative product of this supreme, self-destroying will, it’s victorious achievement, is a fearless human being, one who never cease to love: Siegfried. That is the whole matter.”
    “I have sought in Siegfried to represent my ideal of the perfect human being”

    As for the “rape” scene of Brunnhilde with Siegfried in disguise, Wagner described his intentions clearly; Siegfried “sleeps the night with her, though to her astonishment he lays his sword between them” “Faithful had he been to his blood-brothership- his sword he laid between Brunnhilde and himself”

    As for the need to respect the treatment of the feminine in his work: “for what is love itself, but the eternal feminine?”

    So perhaps it is worth looking more deeply into what he has to teach us?

    “A secret here I deep have lain,
    for centuries there may it rest:
    While e’er the stone shall this contain,
    it’s meaning may the world attest!”
    Wagner’s poem placed in the cornerstone of the theatre at Bayreuth.

    • Wow… Ms.Peacock, if you actually believe that all the violence, incest, adultery, betrayal, and moral wrongdoings that Wagner clearly wrote and composed are all not meant that way (and you lost me when you described the incest between Siegmund and Sieglinde as being about “twin souls”), and that basically it’s all very pure and chaste (and we all know how faithful Wagner was to his wives…!), then perhaps we can just agree those are “alternative facts”. We’ll go on performing, and yes, several people have told me they were transformed by Castorf’s interpretation. My parents and quite a few of their generation actually became fans of this Ring and returned several times to watch it.

      • Of course there is violence and betrayal in the story- displaying the wrongdoings of mankind. Just like in the Bible. But why do you add a rape scene where there is none in the entire opera? Please give me the exact stage direction or lyric you believes calls for one? The example you gave of The Brunnhilde/ Siegfried scene has been shown to be incorrect, as he clearly states that the sword was placed between them to maintain his honour. And writes in his essays about how important this is to the story. If you have missed that, you are misunderstanding the entire point of his story. Just like with the Bible or Koran, in taking certain lines or themes, and missing out the subtlety and nuance of others, you project a different story on to that which was intended.
        And if you have never before come across the concept of twin souls as a story then I assume you have never read much mythology? The devices used in mythology, the Bible and elsewhere have to be understood in their own context. It is only in very recent history that stories were understood as a literal report of events.

        I was exactly in your position wth regards this story until this mistranslations and misconstructions were pointed out to me.

        • I have read plenty of mythology and do not agree with your assessment. And we all know what Wagner wrote, particularly when meant for the public, must all be taken with a grain of salt. If you want to see the Ring in the context you do, feel free, just know that most scholars will disagree. I’ve read enough and heard enough in lectures and discussions particularly in my 5 summers here to know where I stand on the matter.

        • I support Mrs. Weissmann’s POV. I believe Wagner was his most authentic in his musical creations, but quite pretentious, or catering to his audience at its time, in his essays and prosaic writing.
          Just look at this sentence:
          “I have sought in Siegfried to represent my ideal of the perfect human being.”
          And then perceive unbiased, what this character does and says from the very beginning of his appearance in the plot. A hate mongering, uneducated, violence adoring young primitive who is ‘full of himself’.
          The topos requires more differentiation, the whole convoluted role model of the “reine Tor”, but you get my idea.

          • Agreed. The Siegfried character is an embarrassing flop, and every scene in the Ring is spoiled where he set a foot into. The idea was to present unspoiled nature in human form, i.e. a philosophical idea, but Wagner failed to portray that idea convincingly in human form. Wagner was a great composer and a great dramatist, but both his music and his plots are very uneven, you can fall from the best into the worst within seconds throughout his operas, and back again. It was a character trait.

        • From a writer’s angle the Ring, and most opera, is simply bizarre, badly plotted, which deploys tricks to move stories along because the inherent material is constrained by the staging, time limits etc. Nabokov critiqued it well on theatre but opera has even greater faults dramatically.

          With Wagner audiences want that authentic experience, that encounter with the master. The difficulty is that unless it sparks some new interest people will say ‘ho-hum, another winged helmets stuck to the letter production’ …and so what. Now many people like that, the vitriol aimed at the director production indicates what people prefer is product, a Mo-town of Wagner. The other part of that preference is a literalness, a basic adherence to truth, whatever that means with Wagner, or any art, which does not reinterpret it but reproduces it as it was initially done. That isn’t going to last. Boulez was quite clear on mannerism. As Shaw said of Wagner he was a product of the 19th century. If a director succeeds or fails it is not what it is by an act, but with the meaning of the change, whether revealing or layering. That doesn’t excuse directors: they can choose the gimmick to sell and create controversy.

          As to sexual morality, Fricka dishes out an earful to Wotan about incest which is a serious and disturbing element, but fundamental to the entire cycle, and yet all Wagnerians would not want that altered, although in reality incest would disgust and appall every Bayreuth ticket holder.

      • Wagner is telling a much newer and more thrilling tale than the one you are telling. Looking at the Ring in context, we know the huge influence Schopenhauer was having on Wagner, and that he was evolving his thinking about the divine and what it means to be human. Is history leading somewhere good? To light or dark? And do we get to choose?

        He is questioning the deepest meanings of human existence, and that is the magic that speaks to people. Not a just a boring reporting, Fox News-style of “death, destruction and hate”.

        That story is boring and old. We had already had endless stories like the one you tell, by the time of the Ring, so why did Wagner’s live on? Because it was different. There is the plot you see. Or there is the one Wagner wrote, which is much more relevant and subversive.

        • He certainly questions the deepest meanings of human existence, and he comes up with a few rather twisted answers. The magic, despite the often bizarre text, and the gruesome, morally questionable plot, lies in the music.

          • Nadine Weissmann wrote:
            “He certainly questions the deepest meanings of human existence, and he comes up with a few rather twisted answers. The magic, despite the often bizarre text, and the gruesome, morally questionable plot, lies in the music.”

            No, Mrs. Weissmann, there is nothing bizarre in his texts, very logical if one does dive into the deepest meaning of human existence. His conclusions are not twisted but in harmony with some of the greatest philosophical schools on this planet.

            Twisted and bizarre are some productions and this goes also for the recent Ring in Bayreuth. Not at all up to the libretto and the music. Wagners Ring is a karmic story over several generations. As I wrote further down: I do not want to dive into the mud of this production. Existence on earth does have a higher meaning of purpose, without any Cindarella aspect or Hollywood romance.

      • instead of letting the people come to you,
        from your high Masters’ clouds
        you yourselves should turn to the people.
        You want to please the people;
        well, I should have thought it in your interest
        to let them tell you themselves
        whether they took delight in it.
        So that people and Art may bloom and thrive equally

    • Kerenza Peacock, if you are interested in Wagner’s views on the feminine, I recommend Eva Rieger’s book “Wagner’s Women” (Boydell 2011), which focuses on his operatic characters rather than the women in Wagner’s life (though Rieger has also written an in-depth biography of Minna Wagner). However, Rieger comes to the conclusion that Wagner’s insistence on the “eternally feminine” stems from rather egotistical reasons: most female characters in his operas, including Brünnhilde, love and sacrifice themselves for the sake of men. So under the radical surface of his plots, Wagner’s libretti betray quite traditional views about women’s subservient role in the grander scheme of things, even if they are characterised as morally superior.

      • The ‘eternal feminine’ is an almost absolute stereotypical role model in the artistic world in the past and until today. Nothing at all specific, or particularly ‘egoistic’ about Wagner there. Just take Goethe’s “Faust” as only one of the most prominent examples. There are endlessly more examples.
        Actually Wagner’s women are quite strong and independent in the context of their time. Brünnhilde, Sieglinde, Isolde, even Kundry…

        • Anon: Indeed they are strong and independent by the standards of the mid-nineteenth century, but (as Rieger points out, and I’m inclined to agree) they are always strong for the sake of some man who needs redeeming (especially Senta, Elisabeth, Brünnhilde; Elsa and Kundry are more complicated). Which is, by the way, how Wagner himself conceives of his early female characters in “Eine Mittheilung an meine Freunde”. You are of course right about the connection to Goethe’s Faust, which has been pointed out by Rudolf Vaget amongst others.

          • The dicussion her is showing the deep separation of human society. Wagner intented to write operas based on eternal mystical principles of earthly life. He studied his entire life the old Indian philosophies and does go hand and hand with Schopenhauer. All is proofed word by word in his librettos, letters and so. If one does not consider reincarnation as a fact one should forget about understanding the intentions of Richard Wagner. I am in the topic since 1985, did even read unpublished letters and much more. I am studying also Far Eastern philosphies and know the basics. Wagner was – as an Italian friend told me once – a Dante of his time – he will be only understood fully in the future. The decadence in certain production of today is truly a torture for many.

            Our society is in dire waters and Bayreuth is representing this fully. I still did know Wolfgang Wagner – he did try to balance things – but he was not fully in tune with Richard Wagner – maybe Wieland Wagner was. Anyhow I am in favor for taking the festival out of families hands and maybe close the site for 5 years.

            And about Wagner and women…the book from Eva Rieger and all recent publications go hand in hand with the weird productions of Bayreuth – after WWII each author did copy what was witten the day before. Nobody did go into the topic deeply but this was not wished in a Germany which had lost all trust in a better tradition.

            Wagners own words in Mein Leben:

            Die Lektüre von Eugène Bournoufs ‚Introduction à l’histoire du Bouddhisme‘ inspiriert Richard Wagner zum Entwurf der Oper ‚Die Sieger‘. In Mein Leben schreibt er darüber wie folgt: „Er gründet sich auf die einfache Legende von der Annahme eines Tschandala-Mädchens in den erhabenen Bettelorden Cakyamounis, wozu sie durch die schmerzlich gesteigerte und geläuterte Liebe zu Ananda, dem Hauptjünger Buddhas, sich würdig macht. Außer der tiefsinnigen Schönheit des Stoffes bestimmte mich zu seiner Wahl alsbald ein eigentümliches Verhältnis desselben zu dem von mir seitdem ausgebildeten musikalischen Verfahren. Vor dem Geiste des Buddha liegt nämlich das vergangene Leben in früheren Geburten jedes ihm begegnenden Wesens offen, wie die Gegenwart selbst, da. Die einfache Geschichte erhielt ihre Bedeutung dadurch, daß dieses vergangene Leben der leidenden Hauptfiguren als unmittelbare Gegenwart in die neue Lebensphase hineinspielte. Wie nur der stets gegenwärtig miterklingenden musikalischen Reminiszenz dieses Doppellebens vollkommen dem Gefühle vorzuführen möglich werden durfte, erkannte ich sogleich, und dies bestimmte mich, die Aufgabe der Aufführung dieser Dichtung mit besonderer Liebe mir vorzubehalten.“

          • Have you weighted the possibility, that Wagner’s fascination with Buddhism and particularly reincarnation could be rooted primarily in his pronounced narcissism?
            Being reborn seems promising to people who feel they deserve to live eternally…

            Also it was en vogue back then. There is even a tradition from Schopenhauer, Goethe, Schlegel, von Humboldt…
            We find elements of Buddhist philosophy in Tristan and Parsifal as well.

        • Wagner really loved women, he did understand their ambiguous and shadowy emotional world, and their closeness to Nature (with a capital N), their paradoxes, contradictions, moodiness…. he loved them so much that he cultivated cross-dressing, and shared their interest in fabrics and perfumes..

  • Richard Wagner:
    . „Den Lohengrin verstehen“, schreibt er, „konnte somit nur derjenige, der sich von aller modern abstrahierenden, generalisierenden Anschauungsform für die Erscheinungswelt des unmittelbaren Lebens freizumachen vermochte.“ Als der Dresdner Hornist Lewy Richard Wagner einmal fragte, ob er denn gar keine Wärme hätte, der 3. Akt des Lohengrin sei ja undenkbar, entgegnete ihm Wagner „und dies nennen Sie Wärme, die sinnliche Begierde.“

  • I will pay 20 Euro to the charity of her choice if the marvellously gifted Nadine Weissmann will sing One Meatball and post it on YouTube. I would prefer the Josh White version but if she performs the Frank Sinatra-Lou Costello duet that is fine too.

  • Anon: Have you weighted the possibility, that Wagner’s fascination with Buddhism and particularly reincarnation could be rooted primarily in his pronounced narcissism?
    Being reborn seems promising to people who feel they deserve to live eternally…

    Also it was en vogue back then. There is even a tradition from Schopenhauer, Goethe, Schlegel, von Humboldt…
    We find elements of Buddhist philosophy in Tristan and Parsifal as well.

    Dear One, this is very far fetched. But typical for todays society which does think that we are the most advanced civilisation. I think that you should read first some of the original writings regarding this matter and the letters within the Wagner circle. If you think that some of the important thinkers just have been ‘en vogue’….why are they still known today?

    • I didn’t say the thinkers have been ‘en vogue’, dearest. (pun intended for the matronization)
      I said their fascination for Buddhism was ‘en vogue’.
      I didn’t give any judgement about who is more advanced or not.
      Read my comment again.

      • Anon, please read Urania’s comment again. I think she is saying that if you think some of the most important thinkers were just following Buddhism because it was a trend, then why do their Buddhist-inspired and -infused writings still resonate with so many today. And I would add that many of our greatest living minds are inspired by it too, including many cutting-edge scientists. (Also, does the Dalai Lama appear particularly narcissistic to you?)

        • Discussions are tedious, if fallacies happen all over the place. Implying that someone was fascinated by X because certain hand-picked aspects of it suit his narcissism, does in no way imply or mean, that dedicated followers and/or leaders of X are all narcissists.

      • I know what you mean, but we have to go back to Hinduism as well, since Buddhism did come out of the old Vedic teaching. Schopenhauer Archive in Frankfurt is listing 179 books about Indian philosophy owned by Schopenhauer – 125 still available. I do have close contacts.

        Wagner did read the Ramayana, Mahabarata, Tales of India, and many other books intensively with Cosima in Tribschen and in Bayreuth. All is to be found in his writings.

        1854 Wagner’s friend Herwegh (who wrote about reincarnation) did bring Schopenhauer to Wagner’s attention. Wagner read the book Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung during the next year 4 times. He contacted Schopenhauer, never met him, but Hans von Bülow did.

        • Wagner never contacted Schopenhauer, but let his publisher send the libretto of Wallküre, which S read and annotated (at the end of the 1st act when the couple are about to fulfill the requirements of the overcooked music, the stage direction says: ‘Quick curtain’, where S commented: ‘It better be’. S did not think much of the text of the Ring, he himself being a very polished stylist.) Wagner sketched a letter to Schopenhauer in which he tried to correct S on various points about sex, but he wisely did not send it off.

          • According to Patrick Gardiner in his book on Schopenhauer, Wagner did contact Schopenhauer but Arthur thought very little of his fan’s praise, nor much of his music.

  • I am still waiting for someone to tell me where exactly the “rape” is in the scene with Brunnhilde and Siegfried in disguise?
    The libretto itself clearly states,twice, a sword was placed between them to keep Siegfried’s honour. And Wagner writes in essays that this is the case.

    Just because many lecturers and books have stated something as fact does not make it true. I ask you please to reconsider the original sources, without filters of mediaries or long-held beliefs.

    I used to think the same way about Wagner as Ms Weissmann, and then once I was shown what he actually wrote, and how all the most important, but subtle, parts of the play were always taken out or changed by others with a different agenda, then I burst through to a whole new level of meaning. What he is saying (very quietly and subtley and with great care) is revolutionary! And new! And subversive! And challenging to the established System! The System would encourage Siegfried sink to sex and violence.

    • You see Kerenza, in classical music, once something is determined to be ‘fact’, usually because it suits the narrative of those in control, it stays that way regardless of the evidence or lack thereof. The ‘rape’ scene in Götterdämmerung, the meaning of Parsifal being ‘racial purity’, the so called ‘Tristan chord’ heralding a new musical world devoid of melody… all are nonsense, and demonstrably so. But because this is an art-form completely lacking in intellectual rigour, one in which those who question are ostracised, people do tend to believe great lashings of non-evidence based nonsense. Unquestioning obedience is by far the safer option.

      • But consensus is often changing. The debates about the old and new styles at the beginning of the 17th century (between polyphonic and monodic music), the discussions in the 18C about the function and nature of music and about opera and the need for a German opera style, the new image of the composer at the beginning of the 19C through Beethoven’s widespread image, all the discussions in the 19C about classicism on one hand and romanticism on the other (symphony contra symphonic poem), the many isms that flew around in 1900 and later-on, – things changed all the time. It has only been postwar modernism which proved to be a particular virulent ideology, because of the impact of ‘modernity’. So, it is very likely that recent music history will be entirely rewritten later in the 21C and that will certainly include some rigorous methodology, and will have influence upon musical practice and programming.

    • I thought I had already explained this. In THE RING there is no rape scene, but in various sources it is treated differently. In DAS NIBELUGENLIED, when the women quarrel, Siegfried is not asked to swear that he didn’t rape Brunhild, but that he DIDN’T BOAST ABOUT IT. So it is ambiguous. In THIDREKS SAGA it is quite bluntly stated that he rapes her.
      Now, in GOETTERDAEMMERUNG, when Brunnhilde realises that Siegfried has the Ring, not Hunter, she first of says that it is Siegfried, not Hunter, who is her husband. Siegfried says that he laid his sword between them, and she denies that he did so……..but her more general point – that they have been lovers – is true.

    • This is just the wrong conclusion Louy, le feu was crossed by Siegfried in disguise with some magic, but it was still him, the free hero who was the only one to be able to cross her pure aura. Brünnhilde does tell later that she recognized Siegfrieds eyes (the true expression of the soul) and was utterly disturbed.

    • Quelle est la raison de votre interprétation? Une réponse plus longue serait utile. Avec des citations de cette ou d’autres publications.

  • Quelle est la raison de votre interprétation? Une réponse plus longue serait utile. Avec des citations de cette ou d’autres publications.

    • Allons allons! Est-ce vraiment utile de faire un dessin.
      Ceci-dit :C’est ignorer le pouvoir d’identification du masque que de dire que c’est le freier Siegfried qui se présente dans cette scène.Aliené par le filtre il n’est déjà plus légitime à franchir le feu.
      Mais s’il était “simplement “Siegfried pourquoi s’en cacherait-t’il?
      Pour Wotan seul un Freier…Br.ne lui reconnaît pas cette qualité.Elle a raison.
      Et je rajoute:”Jetz bist du mein “Cela veut dire ce que cela veut dire…
      Au minimum admettez des violences conjugales si cela peut vous rassurer.
      Je pense que ce qui vous a choqué c’est dans la scène des crocodiles l’indifférence rapide des deux héros l’un vers l’autre.Comme à l’époque ceux qui n’avaient pas supporté que Tr.et Isolde ne se touchent même pas chez Heiner Müller.Une extase wagnérienne contrariée.

  • By now, 195 comments….. Wagner was, in his own time, considered a trouble-maker, provoking an endless flow of commentary, critique, denunciations, emulations, jubilations, misunderstandings, attacks, derisions, laudations, etc. etc. and the fiures are still burning. Well done, mr W.

    • Wagner was a conceited bar steward, with eczema, he had to bath in porridge or summat. Over rated with an ego like Jupiter. Best forgotten, tuneless, garbage.

      • Just last night I was listening to tannhauser revelling in its awesome, glorious harmonic, melodic and orchestral genius. How did one man write all this so long Ago? It was a fast three hours. In the pantheon of great composers Richard Wagner will always have a place near the top. He had his personal flaws, like most great men do, but while the music of his contemporaries may now sound dull and dated, his 10 masterwork operas still sound as vibrant and intoxicating as ever. Now, on to Lohengrin!

          • Yes and no. I listen to Die Feen, Der Liebesverbot and Rienzi frequently and enjoy them quite a bit. (Too bad they’re practically never staged in the US) But they are a young, inexperienced composer’s offerings that only hint of great things to come. Arguably, The Flying Dutchman isn’t a mature masterwork either, but by the time he got to Tannhauser, the genius was at full power and wouldn’t let up until the end. Of the 13 operas, there’s no question of the greatness of the last 10.

      • Because Wagner was bombarded with ‘comments’ and ‘criqitue’ like this, in a never-ending avalanche of press campaignes on the level of this excremental author, he assumed a tough stance against it, defending his work against the populism of his time. All those attacks have not been able to prevent these works from entering the canonic repertoire, and current mud slinging will not be able to diminish its attraction. It is the defective potty training of some people who think they understand something of music which is the problem.

  • I wholeheartedly agree with your comments. I was at Rheingold last night and it was the only performance (I guess I have seen around 15) that I left feeling abused and disgusted. Interestingly it was one of the few Wagner productions I have ever sat through where I looked at my watch more than once. I did close my eyes from time to time but in the end felt I had to watch the full horror of the production. Yes i was aware it was a challenging production which was one reason I had avoided coming earlier but had never imagined it could be quite this bad. I am aghast that the Bayreuth structure has permitted this. All I can say in closing is that now 200 years since the great man’s birth the torch of best Wagner productions has been handed on to other houses elsewhere. Maybe it will never return to Bayreuth?

  • On a more practical level come to see Wagner at Longborough – LFO.org.uk -and you won’t have to put up with any of this nonsense!!

  • The original poster said that she came ‘looking for beauty’ but didn’t find it. She missed the spectacularly beautiful Woodbird, then? How sad!

    • The costume was beautiful, but the character’s behavior was sadly not. To be able to catch his attention with her purity and beauty of spirit would have been a truly powerful moment to represent. Rather than trying to tell us yet again, that the only way the feminine can have power is by flirting and seducing. Wagner was trying to tell a newer, more exciting story than that. As the woodbird is the representation of his divine inner voice, it didn’t even make sense.

      • Quite correct – Castorf’s “interpretation” of this role was truly disgusting and how amazing that the comment should come from a woman who one might have thought would have more reason than most to object to the sexualisation of many of the female roles in this Castorf so-called Ring

        • I can’t believe what I’m reading! ‘Disgusting’?????? It was spectacularly beautiful!!!!! Those wonderful, huge, shining wings. …….will never forget this as long as I live!!?

      • Er……..The Woodbird isn’t the ‘representation of a divine inner voice’, it’s plot device to give Siegfried the information he needs.

  • My two cents worth:
    The Castorf production was indeed rubbish, deliberately working against the music, as in the non-intreaction of Siegfried and Brunnhilde when they first meet.
    The Tristan was hardly better, particularly in the second act with too many distractions to the music.
    But I thought the Kosky take on Meistersinger was brilliant – adding food for thought without detracting from the music and drama.

    • This thread on Wagner is the gift that keeps giving. Bernard, you do know that die Meistersinger has a very important and clear meaning that absolutely should resonate with us today, and it’s definitely not the inappropriate and utterly predictable plot that Mr Kosky has inserted.

      Deep down of course old Barrie may be aware (if he has any self-awareness at all) that here is an opera having good old dig at him and all those like him that police this art-form.

  • I agree with the negative comments of Rodrigo Ruiz and his daughter Karenza Peacock.
    Watching the last Bayreuth production of Wagner’s Ring cycle on Netflix. What a nonsense! Almost hilarious to read translations referencing trees, woodland, ropes while three women dressed in a style which is neither ancient, mediaeval, twentieth century, or anything in between, roam aimlessly back and forth in front of what looks like the entrance to Barbican underground in London totally ignoring requests to pass the rope of fate, (there is, of course, no rope), while for some reason smearing themselves and the entrance walls with what appears to be a very thick raspberry coulis. I see there will be no Rings at Bayreuth this year or next. Probably a good idea to have a rest for some time from theatrical productions altogether and follow Opera North and their superb recent semi staged performances. Give these sad egocentric directors time to die out and start a new cycle of concepts.

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