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Reviews 2009

A Polished Vienna Ring

Jan Bowen

Given the current global financial crisis, Wotan's difficulties in coming up with the ready to pay for Valhalla almost certainly struck a chord with many modern day cash-strapped members of the audience. The enduring relevance of Wagner's magnum opus was strikingly evident in the Vienna Staatsoper's recent Ring Cycle if for no other reason than its timing.

The joy of this [new] production was that director, Sven-Eric Bechtolf didn't even try to turn it into an excuse for ideological axe-grinding or pseudo-political aggrandising. There were no Nazi stormtroopers, no white shoe brigade, no scenes from Abu Graib. But nor were there outmoded sylvan glades and bearskins, and there was plenty that was thought-provoking for a contemporary audience. Bechtolf's striking achievement was to illuminate the work rather than institute a takeover.

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'Katharina Wagner Should Be ... ' - A Personal Reaction to Meistersinger In The Flesh

Patricia Baillie

Katharina Wagner should be ..... Or at least removed from further productions at Bayreuth... Like other Society members I saw the woeful production of Meistersinger at the Goethe Institut. But it wasn't until I saw it in the flesh - and there certainly was flesh - at Bayreuth this year that I took in fully how ridiculous it was. She wishes to 'modernize' Bayreuth productions. Fine, but I do believe the action on stage should have some connection with the text and the music. Neither was evident. The absurd parade of composers with huge heads, including Wagner in his jockeys, doing what I can only call prancing was distracting, implausible, and simply laughable. Meistersinger is a comedy, and we are given plenty to laugh at in the music, in the libretto and in Wagner's stage directions. Interpretation is one thing, inane irrelevancies are another.

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