Opera: Götterdämmerung

Achim Freyer’s production of the final installment of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle “has not been universally loved,” but I’m convinced that, over time, it will be celebrated, said Mark Swed in the Los Angeles Times.

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

Los Angeles

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The final installment of the Los Angeles Opera’s new production of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle certainly “keeps a viewer on his toes,” says Timothy Mangan in the Orange County, Calif., Register. Director Achim Freyer’s postmodern vision of the apocalyptic tetralogy doesn’t so much “reinterpret” the work as “revisualize it.” A former painter who treats the stage as a canvas, Freyer places his performers carefully, and deploys low- and high-tech visual effects—from puppets to computer screens—to create a “terrific and astonishing” spectacle. Completing Freyer’s multimillion-dollar vision required a loan from the county government, which has led some detractors to dub this production “the bailout opera.” Its extravagance may be part of the reason why, on opening night, traditionalists greeted Freyer with “the loudest chorus of boos” I’ve ever heard.

It’s true that Freyer’s production “has not been universally loved,” said Mark Swed in the Los Angeles Times. But I’m convinced that, over time, this production will be celebrated. As staged by Freyer, Götterdämmerung’s final scene—which depicts Brünnhilde’s immolation as she rides her horse into the flames of a funeral pyre—was “one of the most glorious and moving instances of stagecraft I have ever witnessed.” Conductor James Conlon’s “resplendent” interpretation of Wagner’s music superbly matches Freyer’s production, while singers John Treleaven and Linda Watson—who delivered uneven performances as Siegfried and Brünnhilde earlier in the cycle—rise to the occasion here with performances that approach the profound. As the opera reached its “final, transcendental moments,” all concerned had reason to be proud.

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