CDs / DVDs, 01. Mai 2006
Most interestingly, Audi wanted to bring out the integral drama in the music. At Bayreuth, Wagner hid the orchestra in a pit below the stage. For Audi, the music is so important that he wants the orchestra to be part of the action in a visible, physical sense, too. The audience thus is seated around the orchestra who are visible at all times. This creates a different, but very dynamic acoustic. Surprisingly, the singers found it enjoyable even though they were facing the orchestra. Graham Clark said that when you’re "eyeball to eyeball" with audience and musicians, your focus adapts. The conductor, Hartmut Haenchen adds that many Wagnerian singers shout and ruin their voices. This new arrangement allowed them to sing "with" the orchestra. Moreover, the orchestral players loved it, as they could hear better what was going on on-stage and gauge their responses more sensitively. Indeed, this was a very well played Rheingold, the prelude and non-vocal passages illuminated by the extra prominence, and the clear enthusiasm of the musicians.
In all, this is a production to study for its insights. The spare set and the visible orchestra concentrate attention on what is happening in the drama, and on its psychological, philosophical ideas. Ultimately, this is much more in keeping with Wagner’s dearest wish, that his operas should make people think, than any amount of Teutonic kitsch.

Anne Ozorio