In 1997 the NETHERLANDS OPERA began, with huge success, to build a Ring cycle. Combined with Hartmut Haenchen’s intensive preparation of the music, Pierre Audi’s production made – and still makes – for thrilling evenings in the theatre. This Ring was given four times in 1998 and now three cycles have been presented for what is perhaps the last time.
Das Rheingold was astonishingly perfect, everything in place. (...) Hartmut Haenchen knows how to pace this difficult piece without over-dramatizing it. He and the Netherlands Philharmonic deserved the greatest ovations at the first performance on September 19.
I almost dreaded the same degree of perfection in Die Walküre, which is many things but certainly not cool. (...) The house went wild at the end (...)
Siegfried was, again, a totally different situation. (...) The third act was total magic, one of those occasions which one never forgets, and when a mere critic ceases taking notes. The orchestra and chorus were transcendental. (...) Götterdämmerung got off to a splendid start with the best Norns I have heard, and with Secunde and Andersen truly ecstatic in their duet. (...) but all the singing was very punchy, the orchestral brilliance dizzying. (...) At the end, there was roof-shattering applause, with Secunde, Audi, Haenchen and his orchestra getting especially thunderous ovations. It has been fascinating to see how most of the artists performing in this Ring have become so deeply involved in this memorable production.