Post by Herman van der Woude
Perhaps too much kitsch involved?
I think it's a general refusal to recognise that while The Ring is a deep and
profoundly insightful drama, a musical milestone and a towering masterpiece,
it's also a great and glorious sword-and-sorcery adventure story full of
colour and magic and action and excitement. For me, those are the qualities
that are almost completely lacking in productions these days.
I think that I do agree with you, Bert.
If you go to a theatre to watch a play, a musical or an opera, you want
to be there to watch the story you expect to see, with all elements
these stories include. And yes, Bert, when watching The Ring, I would
like to see dwarfs, giants, a dragon, the rainbow bridge to Walhall and
the Firewall. I would like to sit in my chair and be amazed by the
tricks a theatre has to offer, and by God, modern theatre has so much
to offer these days!
Wagner had a story to tell, his story of the Nibelungs and basically I
do not mind if a director of today gives his own interpretation of that
story, as long as he is telling the story of the Nibelungs and Wotan
and Siegfried. If he is putting the story in some sort of 'socialistic'
framework (Patrice Chéreau), that is fine by me as long as he is
telling about the rise and fall of the gods as Wagner wrote it down in
words and music, and it becomes even more attractive if he uses the
machinery modern theatres have to offer.
What I do not like is the tendency of our present directors to use the
words and the music of a composer, in our case Wagner, but he is not
the only one who is abused, to tell a completely different story. A few
years ago I saw on German television a Bayreuth production of Parsifal.
I don't need to tell here the story of Parsifal and how Wagner put that
into words and music. What I saw was in no way the story of Parsifal,
but a 'lecture' on German history, from around 1870 till 2000. Mind
you, it was wonderful to watch - it is incredible what they can
establish nowadays on stage, but it had nothing to do with Parsifal. I
still do not understand what Gurnemanz was doing in the front garden of
1870 Wahnfried and why the opera ended in Mrs Merkel's Bundestag...
Chéreau also gave us a (socialist) view of that period of Germany's
history in his Ring (the gods as bourgeois German civilians in Das
Rheingold and factory workers seeing the twilight of the gods in
Götterdämmerung), but he still told the story of Wagner with Alberich
changing into a toad, with Giants, a dragon (yes, on wheels towed by
stage hands) and a ring of fire.
Stay close to the story, know your boundaries and exploit what you can
do within those boundaries and use all the tricks a theatre can offer
and if you do so, you will make me a happy theatre going man!
Met vriendelijke groet,
Herman van der Woude