We round up the reviews for Richard Jones’ production of the first part of Wagner’s Ring Cycle.
Broadway World: **** “Everything is rendered with precision and clarity allowing Jones to garner a curiously economical extravagance. Opting for abstraction, Jones and designer Stewart Laing pinpoint particular ideas that become aesthetic icebergs insinuating a depth beneath the surface.”
The Guardian: **** “The good news is that this Rhinegold deserves to steady the market and to boost ENO’s survival case. Chief credit for that goes to the director, Richard Jones, and the conductor, Martyn Brabbins. But Rhinegold is an ensemble piece, and this production is an ensemble success too, with several young singers getting a breakthrough.”
Evening Standard: *** “The best productions of Rhinegold teem with ideas and grip you from first to last. This one has some arresting inspirations but the blazing fusion of music and drama is only kindled in the closing stages. Hardly enough to worry Westminster City Council.”
iNews: **** “Bravo to John Deathridge’s English translation, perfectly preserving Wagner’s preference for persistent alliteration, and to the tremendous orchestra, though sometimes Martyn Brabbins’s well-balanced conducting needed a tad more electricity.”
The Stage: **** “Musical standards, though, are sky-high, with a set of individual performances that it would be hard to beat, notably from John Relyea’s vividly sung Wotan, Madeleine Shaw’s determined Fricka, Katie Lowe’s agitated Freia, Blake Denson’s vocally hefty Donner and Julian Hubbard’s vacuous Froh.”
The Telegraph: **** “The second part of the company’s Ring cycle is the first of the four operas, and its sumptuous singing atones for last year’s drab Valkyrie.”
Seen and Heard international.com: “Musically, this is a fantastic evening not to be missed. My personal jury, however, remains out as regards the production.”
The Arts Desk: **** ” Once we hit the heights, everything properly flows, and the playing of the ENO orchestra is first-rate; there’s just the sensation that Brabbins is more of a symphonic conductor than one fine-tuned to music-theatre. (One big question remains: why were the company’s Music and Artistic Directors totally silent media-wise during the latest crisis?)”
London Unattached: “The Rhinegold is not a straightforward opera to produce but with a strong ensemble performance, this is a thrilling and dramatically engrossing production from Richard Jones. The thought of not seeing the final two parts of the cycle feels like a scandalous piece of cultural theft. If you haven’t booked, do so. We must support the ENO.”
Culture Whisper: **** “Tenor Frederick Ballentine gives a wonderfully vivid portrayal of Loge, the God of Fire, played as a street-wise effete with sociopathic tendencies and lime-green gloves. And a special mention for another tenor, John Findon, a member of the ENO Harewood Artist programme, whose brief appearances as Mime suggests a thrillingly powerful voice.”
The FT: **** “It is a shame that ENO’s music director Martyn Brabbins does not find more pictorial detail in the music — we do not really hear the flowing waters of the Rhine, Alberich’s scrambling over the rocks, or Mime’s wheedling — but the Wagnerian orchestral palette is there. In any case this is a Rhinegold rooted in text and character. The opera has rarely felt so modern.”
Bachtrack: **** “I may not like all the visuals, and this Rhinegold may not be filled with individual wow moments. But it’s very good vocally, highly competent musically and it delivers comprehensively on the storytelling. That makes it thoroughly recommendable for Ring novices and devotees alike.”
The Rhinegold continues to be performed at the London Coliseum until the 10th March.