... e o Anel de Lisboa no Financial Times

[2000 caracteres, 450 dos quais dedicados às fantasias sexuais do Alberich. É obra.]

Das Rheingold, Teatro Nacional de São Carlos, Lisbon

By Shirley Apthorp
Published: May 31 2006 17:23 | Last updated: May 31 2006 17:23

Alberich is exceptionally well-endowed. Rejected by the Rhinemaidens, he rocks on his haunches, cradling his metre-long member. For a moment, when he swipes the disco-ball Rhinegold from these blue-frocked party-girls, self-castration looks likely. But no. He keeps the appendage, and it reappears in Nibelheim, thick as a man and as wide as the stage.

Fortunately, Alberich’s organ is not the most arresting aspect of Lisbon’s new Rheingold. Graham Vick and his design team have turned the theatre backwards, with the stage where the stalls should be. This is Wagner in the round, with the audience close to the action and the orchestra beneath the new stage and spilling out below the royal box. This gives enough space for a Wagnerian orchestra (not possible in the historic house’s small pit) and hydraulic lifts. But while the overhead stage reduces the covered sections of the orchestra to an authentically Bayreuthian rumble, the unroofed violins are mercilessly exposed.

Vick’s staging borrows from cartoon superheroes and film. Donner and Loge wear baseball gear, Freia is a dead ringer for Marilyn Monroe, Fasolt and Fafner drive fork-lifts and the Nibelungs snort coke.

Often the ideas seem at best tenuously linked, but this may change as the Lisbon Ring unfolds over the next three years. So far, it is certainly not dull.

The cast is young, committed and well-matched. Will Hartmann’s Loge is a bundle of energy, Johann Werner Prien’s Alberich lithe and sonorous. Keel Watson’s compelling Fasolt is flawlessly articulated, Stefan Ignat’s Wotan is best in the middle registers. Emilio Pomàrico holds everything together and brings stringent logic, though little burnish, to the score. He was more in his element conducting Aureliano Cattaneo’s La philosophie dans le labyrinthe at last month’s Munich Biennale, a striking feat I erroneously attributed to the composer. Apologies.