Review: 'Das Reingold', at Longborough Festival Opera, June 2019

Das Rheingold

By Terry Clarke

Set in the heart of the English Cotswolds, Longborough is a country house opera festival which increases its stature year by year. They are now building their second Ring having completed a cycle in 2013. It is a relatively small opera house made from a converted chicken shed with an audience of about 500 and a small pit so that the orchestra for Wagner is cut down to about 80 players.

Where the previous production of the Ring was very dark, this Rheingold was full of light. In fact, light was almost a theme. There was a round platform on the stage with a large screen at the back which effective projected images consistent with the mood of the moment.

All the cast were young and enthusiastic singers with special mention of the Wotan of Darren Jeffery, a bear of a man with a fine voice. Mime was unusually strong and tall and not the snivelling wretch we normally see. Loge was the ringmaster and the Tarnhelm was a top hat.

There was the, by now, familiar ambivalence of Freia towards Fasolt and instead of a rainbow bridge the Gods came down stage and stared at the audience.

On the whole Director, Amy Lane, has produced an imaginative, sensible and comprehensible rendering of the story and Conductor, Anthony Negus, gave us tremendous music with his well-trained orchestra.

The Ring at Longborough is now so popular that tickets are almost impossible to obtain and even the list of Wagner subscribers has been closed. There is talk of increasing the number of seats in the theatre or perhaps the Graham family, who own and run the festival, will put on a few more performances as the years go by. It was, as ever at Longborough, a superb night at the opera even as the wind and rain raged outside.