Post by Bert Coules
A very belated reply to this. I'd dearly love to see the Koltai/Ornbo Ring
designs again (and to hear the Andrew Porter translation which I associate
so vividly with them) but part of me also thinks that memories should be
left as exactly that. The entire experience of those pioneering Rings can
never now be recaptured, either for the audience or the company, and a
revival which proved disappointing would be a bitter blow.
I entirely take your point, Burt -- the perils of trying to recapture an experience are a rich feeding ground for philosophers. But even allowing for that, if I won the lottery, unlikely as I don't play it, recreating the ENO Ring would be my dream. Of course it wouldn't have the thrill of the original, or Remedios and Hunter and Bailey and all the rest, and of course Goodall, but I also saw it with several other conductors including Mackerras and Gibson, and many other singers, and it was still marvellous. Why shouldn't it be re-done with a similarly British or at least English-speaking cast? Say, Ian Paterson as Wotan, and maybe Michael Druiett, with one of several British or American Brunnhildes; Siegfried's more of a rarity, of course, but it would be worth a try, and there are any number of fine artists for the other roles. Conductor? Donald Runnicles, for me, but if you want a more Goodall-like experience Anthony Negus from Longborough or Sir Mark Elder, both Goodall assistants, or Richard Farnes from Opera North. As for the designs, I think they could be recreated. Koltai himself told me the actual models had decayed, but there are pictures enough and the people who built them are still around. You would not, certainly, have what we enjoyed, but then that wasn't a single experience, it was year after year and different every time. And there would be counterbalances; even with a fairly rounded Brunnhilde like Alwyn Meillor, we would be spared the spectacle of Rita Hunter lumbering around being chased by Remedios as Gunther, which was always the moment when my sense of humour got the better of my involvement. But I think, without exaggerated expectations we could recreate something that would still be worthwhile.
Post by Bert Coules
A new cycle with the same traditional/modern sensibilities would be a
welcome thing indeed, though I suspect they feel there's still economic and practical life left in the current disappointing staging. My word, I wish they'd junk the awful Jeremy Sams text though.
I agree, but how likely are we to get one? I think the key word is economic. I've always felt that the raison d'etre of so many modern productions is financial. When you analyse many "controversial" productions you find they're actually very simple things, under their splashy gestures, designed to save the producer both labour and imagination -- endless grubby modern suits -- and the company complex construction and storage costs. They're also designed to be cheap so they can be scrapped more readily as their sensations wear thin, which might have helped if ENO were not in such a state of "chassis" over the last year or two, as their spendthrift policies home to roost -- on Terry Gilliam productions, for example, fun as they can be. When, if ever, the company wakes out of its current state of shock, something new might be possible. But I suspect the hope might have moved to other festival-based companies such as Longborough and Glyndebourne, with their recent excellent track record, or even Garsington. If we're spared, we'll see!