We seem to be in some kind of post apocalyptic wasteland. Mime’s hut looks like a re-purposed storage tank but the bear and the forest are more or less realistic. It’s all very dark and there’s quite a lot of use of pyrotechnics. This is also our first look at Siegfried Jerusalem’s Siegfried and he is very good indeed. He captures the hero’s youthful vigour and arrogance extremely well. There is a strong performance too from a rather manic Graham Clark as Mime and John Tomlinson continues as a reckless and wild Wanderer.
Act 2 continues the semi-naturalistic post apocalypse setting. Wotan choreographs the action while Günther von Kannen’s Alberich and Mime scheme. It’s still all very dark and our introduction to Fafner is as a sort of slime green pulsating light with Philip Kang singing in suitably sepulchral tones. The video direction of the fight scene is pretty chaotic but it looks pretty cool and ends up with an impressively smashed up giant reprising the huge giant of Das Rheingold. There’s an interesting take on the Waldvogel, sung by Hilde Leidland, which is here portrayed as very much Wotan’s agent.
Act 3 opens on an almost empty stage with Erda simply appearing from below to a rather storm tossed Wanderer. It’s a very beautiful image and Birgitta Svendén’s singing is gorgeous. The dynamics of the confrontation between Siegfried and Wotan are handled nicely and lead up to a strong visual transition to the Magic Fire. Now we are back in the godly world of lasers. The final duet is really good with truly ecstatic singing from both Jerusalem and Anne Evans’ Brünnhilde.
It’s really hard to find anything not to like in this Ring. The concept and designs have stood up to the years extremely well and the performances are strong across the board. Barenboim’s conducting seems most judicious; by turns poignant and extremely exciting. It’s also extremely well realised for Blu-ray. The details are the same as for Das Rheingold.