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The no-nonsense musical direction of Bertrand de Billy produced a running-time of under two and a half hours, one of my shorter Rheingolds. The brisk baton kept the admirable Barcelona players on their toes, allowed a minimum of bad quarter-hours, and made of Wotan a modern and effective company director a little lacking in dignity. The flickering flames of the unstable Loge threatened already the sort of conflagration that must ultimately consume Valhalla at the end of the cycle; and Freia's reasonable anxiety at being handed over to a pair of giants, whose building machinery was apparently an essential part of their physique, became hectic neurosis.

Rheinmaidens Cristina Obregón (Woglinde), Ana Ibarra (Wellgunde) and Francisca Beaumont (Flosshilde). © 2005 Opus Arte
Rheinmaidens Cristina Obregón (Woglinde), Ana Ibarra (Wellgunde) and Francisca Beaumont (Flosshilde). © 2005 Opus Arte

It is a joyous experience, though, to bring Das Rheingold in full musical and visual splendour into one's own drawing-room. The fatal gold is beautifully saluted in this version by three comely Rhinemadens, indeed worthy of a more eligible suitor than Alberich [listen -- DVD1 track 5 'Lugt, Schwestern!', 0:00-1:59]. With love forsworn in the depths, Wotan is unaware how soon his plans will be tied in knots of political deceit. For the moment he can contemplate the majestic splendour of Valhalla, conceived with pride and satisfaction as safe stronghold for the gods [listen -- DVD1 track 7 'Wotan, Gemahl! erwache!', 2:01-3:06].

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Copyright © 30 March 2005 Robert Anderson, London UK


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