Wagner total loss: "Götterdämmerung" at the Bayreuth Festival
Created: 06/08/2022, 12:15 p.m
By: Markus Thiel
At the end of the 15 hours there is a meaningless scene with Brünnhilde (Iréne Theorin).
© Enrico Nawrath
Director Valentin Schwarz got himself hopelessly tangled up in his concept for Bayreuth's “Ring des Nibelungen”.
Wherever Wagner begins, he has already finished his intellectual work.
A merciless boo storm is the result.
There would have been one final turn.
A little happiness for three, father, mother, child, in this two-room apartment that we know from the "Valkyrie".
But the guy has to get out, to his job, maybe on a hunting trip to the German forests.
The child clings, mom seems overwhelmed.
All hope and all future rests on the offspring – Valentin Schwarz made that known right from the start, in the “Rheingold”.
His "Ring des Nibelungen", mercilessly booed after the premiere of "Götterdämmerung", is a very sad thing.
Because the director wants to show in his Bayreuth Festival act how a chic family, widely ramified, with sometimes absurdly crossed family relationships, tumbles towards the abyss.
And this is because every generation produces children, but they are soon so traumatized that everything only ends in hatred and death.
Siegfried and Brünnhilde also have offspring invented by Schwarz.
The other bad child from the "Rheingold" has grown up in the meantime.
A warhorse, still in a yellow shirt, cool, mellow, type-wise more like the chairman of the local tennis club than Siegfried-murderer Hagen.
He lives under one roof with the Gibichungen Gunther and Gutrune, here excited revenants of the TV Geissens.
It's not much fun for him, and we all sympathize with him.
Only one question drives the festival guests
This and much more could be told from the premiere of “Götterdämmerung”.
For example, how Gunther actually appears at Brünnhilde, moving his lips from the off in sync with Siegfried's voice, pretending to be the woman with a false identity in order to wrest the ring from her.
But what or who is this ultimate symbol of power in Valentin Schwarz?
What is ultimately responsible for the downfall that Wagner composes after four operas with hissing sounds plus a final motif of salvation?
Nobody cares anymore.
The only question that worries the majority of the festival guests remains: All the new characters and side strands - does it work?
Will everything culminate in a big aha effect, preferably with a gain in knowledge?
But at this point Schwarz and his team Andrea Cuzzi (stage) and Andy Visit (costumes) can no longer find their way out of his network of ideas and extras.
For a long time he has been circling helplessly around himself and his chic clan, who only send out two signals.
Wealth makes you bad.
And children can save us.
That's right, that's why Wagner wrote the "Ring".
But Schwarz's problem is: Wagner took this as his starting point, Schwarz has already finished his mental work.
A “ring” that is thin in content and poor in terms of craftsmanship
So, despite the huge amount of equipment, it has become a shockingly thin “ring” and “Götterdämmerung” doesn't change that.
It is also poor craftsmanship.
Again, figures are turned off or act in the void.
Again, nothing goes beyond bas-relief.
Sometimes there are impressive images such as Hagen's men's army, here a phalanx of Gugl men against the light.
But then everything marches forward, masks are waved – a mortal sin – to the rhythm of the music.
And everything suddenly looks like in the Grusical of the elementary school seniors.
Actually, Schwarz wanted to avoid classic insignia such as sword and ring, but then he bashfully resorts to them again.
And although he finds a new volte for almost every character and steals from the TV series arsenal: Everything remains just illustration,
And at some point everyone takes off: "Lohengrin" at the Bayreuth Festival
“Götterdämmerung”: Storm of protest for Bayreuth “Ring”
It should not be forgotten that black is the third choice of festival director Katharina Wagner.
First, four women should have lifted the "ring", then Tatjana Gürbaca was awarded the contract.
After her rejection, an emergency helper had to be found, and everyone expected fresh access from the 33-year-old Austrian.
But this would also have required a functioning Bayreuth dramaturgy department to protect the overwhelmed Schwarz from the absurd.
The musical faction is already further along.
Cornelius Meister, who stood in for Pietari Inkinen during rehearsals, has made giant strides with the Festival Orchestra from Rheingold to Götterdämmerung.
What emerges from the ditch is plastic to drastic, sometimes even multidimensional.
It has not yet rounded itself off into inner logic, Master is too busy with episodic things for that.
Some things like the Waltrauten scene are so slow-paced and presented with such attention to detail that the border to conductor's vanity is crossed.
A lot should happen on the second or third run, the premiere cycle is a provisional end result.
Spectacular recast of the Siegfried role
And another spectacular cast change: Because Stephen Gould fell ill and his cover Andreas Schager was also malad, Clay Hilley was flown in from vacation in Apulia the day before the premiere.
As Siegfried, vocally bright, penetrating and with astonishing ease, he finds his way around.
One likes to listen, less so with Iréne Theorin.
Your Brünnhilde is loud, imprecise and lacking in text.
Conditionally she comes over the five hours, not only for Bayreuth that's not enough.
Albert Dohmen as gnarly Hagen does best, Michael Kupfer-Radecky (Gunther), Elisabeth Teige (Gutrune), Christa Mayer (Waltraute) and Olafur Sigurdarson (Alberich) deliver many Singspiel offers that are hardly taken up by the director.
At the end of "Götterdämmerung" this "ring" returns to the first image, the "Rheingold" pool is now empty and dirty.
The director's input of ideas has dried up, everything is on the ground, Hagen rushes over one last time, wringing his hands.
15 hours run out like a shrug in a meaningless tableau.
Schwarz now has four years to work in the Bayreuth workshop.
As if you could repair a total loss.