Last Saturday, November 10, Opéra de Montréal premiered Der Rheingold, the first instalment from Wagner’s tetralogy Der Ring des Nibellungen. It marked the first time that this work is staged in the history of the opera company.
What you missed
The highlight of the show was the performance by Canadian bass-baritone Nathan Berg. The native from Saskatchewan struck gold with his dramatic stage presence and his steely voice. He incarnated Alberich in body and voice, colouring every sound to match the meaning of the words he was singing. A good example was the contrast in his vocal and physical attitude when he was wearing the ring and when he wasn’t. He was arrogant and confident when he had it and his voice was of almost of unnatural power. When he wasn’t wearing the ring, his voice had a dark and pathetic colour and his manners where clumsy.
Stage director Brian Staufenbiel would make even the most skilful alchemist envious. With his use of multimedia, he transformed a bronze type of budget into golden success. We appreciated the use of turquoise waves imagery combined with the costumes in the first scene, which effectively conveyed the evocative and sensual nature of the three Rhine maidens. The three siren-like creatures sung beautifully. From the trio, the sumptuous timbre of soprano Andrea Nunez shimmered with ease over the orchestra.
All the supporting roles fulfilled well the expectations. Bass Soloman Howard showcased a stentorian bass of sheer vocal power; he has the potential to be a great Wotan in the near future. Tenor David Cangelosi’s nuanced singing is also worth a mention even if the role of Mime plays a small part in this chapter of the tetralogy.
It was not the best performance by Ryan Mckinny. The American bass had problems projecting his voice in the austere acoustics of Wilfrid Pelletier. His instrument seemed more appropriate for repertoire with lighter orchestration such as Mozart.
The use of microphones was evident and at some instances made the voices sound unnatural.
The Audience corner
Mark Jewel (huge Wagner fan): “I travel the world to see Wagner’s operas as much as I can and I though this production was really well done. The staging was very minimalist, not a huge budget, but despite that, it was a huge success. The symbolism of the opera was conveyed in a very convincing way.”
Anonymous (father of one of the singers): “I came to support my daughter, she was one of the trio of girls that sang at the beginning of the show, so of course I loved their performance. I was also impressed by the bass voices, they were vibrant and also loved the orchestra’s playing. I didn’t like opera before but I’m starting to get the bug.”
The Audience corner is a section designed to give a voice to spectators. If you attend a concert and want to share your impressions with our readers and us please send them to [email protected]
Wah Keung Chan’s review “Review: Montreal Premiere of Wagner’s Das Rheingold a Must See”