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Nicholas Folwell as Alberich. Photo © Stephen Wright
Nicholas Folwell as Alberich. Photo © Stephen Wright

Nicholas Folwell's phenomenally forceful Alberich electrified each time he appeared, although unlike last time, he never quite achieved the part-moody, part-athletic dominance he managed initially (perhaps with echoes of his Scottish Opera and Welsh Opera underling), or the spellbinding stage dominance of his almost comic strip Hindenburg of a Hunding (a glorious moody caricature straight out a Grosz or pre-Great War Germany's Simplicissimus cartoons).

Nicholas Folwell as Hunding in the Longborough staging of Die Walkure
Nicholas Folwell as Hunding in the Longborough staging of Die Walkure

But Folwell, even when hovering behind Hagen like a ghoulish memory, has a voice, and a delivery, to die for, and at best -- in parts of Rheingold -- even rivalled the great man himself.

So too Mark Richardson's Hagen: not as cavernous, naturally, as his Fafner in Longborough's original series, but much more chilling. The entire first half of Act III of Götterdämmerung was a case of 'watch Hagen', as Richardson evolved his own series of nervy stances and reacting expressions and half-turns, so that the tension onstage grew and grew like a sublime -- or infernal -- long crescendo. When Hagen plunged in the spear, it was almost cynically casual, banally butcherlike (there are similar roles for Richardson in Peter Maxwell Davies's The Martyrdom of St Magnus). By then we were all rooting for him anyway (or to put it cruelly, for anyone who could relieve us of Siegfried's flat notes).

Loge and Wotan. Photo © Stephen Wright
Loge and Wotan. Photo © Stephen Wright

I'd enjoyed others too: Richard Lloyd Morgan's admirable, padding, hush-puppy Gunther, presiding over the shambles like a benign Claudius; Peter Jeffes' slightly too baritoney Siegmund, who still arouses our profound sympathy but not always our musical relish (any more than Annemarie Sand's Sieglinde, now rather on the raucous side); rather better, Jonathan Finney's suave, Phileas Fogg-like Loge: not a wholly engaging voice in the manner of, say, the wonderful (albeit much older) Volker Vogel singing the role (unbelievably, for the first time : it fits Vogel like a glove) in the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland's Ring cycle in Birmingham and Limerick two years ago -- here surely is one electric performer Longborough could snap up -- but an interesting mover whose management of McIntyre and the two giants in the Freia crisis (Jacob Christian Zethner's Fasolt, unlike ENO's worthwhile Iain Paterson, didn't reveal a softer romantic side) supplied some of the better dramatic moments.

Jonathan Finney as Loge with Fasolt and Fafner. Photo © Stephen Wright
Jonathan Finney as Loge with Fasolt and Fafner. Photo © Stephen Wright

 

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Copyright © 15 August 2004 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry UK

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