Title:The Amsterdam Cycle, Label: (Opus Arte OA 0946 D)
At the opposite extreme to the kitsch of the Met's cycle, comes Pierre Audi's production from Amsterdam, only the first part of which has so far been issued. Audi has done away with conventional sets and uses wood, metal, stone and glass blocks to create spaces in which the action can happen. It is a very technical production with something always being built. The placing of the orchestra is also unconventional. For much of the cycle, there is a vast runway from the stage around the orchestra and back to the stage, so that the orchestra is in the middle of the action. On other occasions, Audi has the orchestra actually on the stage. Both sitings give the singers occasional problems seeing the conductor and there is also some pushing to get over the orchestral sound. John Brocheler is, at times, a dry-voiced Wotan, but there is a striking Alberich from Henk Smit and the ever-reliable Graham Clark is Mime. Conductor Hartmut Haenchen doesn't hang around, driving the score forward relentlessly. But there's enough going on here to make one look forward to the complete cycle being issued on DVD.