Wagner: Das Rheingold

Christian Ekowski
Critic Service (Germany)

"... an outstanding recording of Wagner’s Rheingold. .... What a wonderful musical experience!"
After the production and release of Die Walküre from the State Opera of South Australia at the Adelaide Festival Theatre, which left such a gripping and lasting impression, the interpretation of Das Rheingold is just as successful.

This begins with the wonderfully clear and immaculate recording technology which brings a sense of space to the sound. One sits as if in the audience, and can experience the three dimensional happenings on the stage and in the orchestra easily, without individual voices being preferred or pushed into the background. Also the noble design of the booklet, and the photographs contained within give one the impression that the State Opera of South Australia’s staging was from the modern day. Thus, there is high praise for the production and technology values of the recording.

The director and conductor further succeeded, without ideology or crassness to produce a completely natural and extraordinarily beautiful sounding realisation of the score. The result is a wonderfully alive and present quality in the sound, which begins with the round, sonorous E flats in the basses in the prelude to the opera. The high strings in the underwater flickering light surrounding the Rheingold suggest a heavenly light. Also here it is not possible to analytically dissect the output of single voices, rather they become a whole, harmonious sound for our ears, from the deepest bass to the highest heights. Without a break in the tension and concentration we hear the building of this sound picture, the like of which is scarcely heard in Europe, up to the “Zur Burg Fürt die Brücke” and Wagner’s consciously bombastic finale.

Each role is outstandingly occupied. Bröcheler’s Wotan radiates majesty and dignity, the goddesses Fricka and Freia are dramatically created as emotional beings. The earthmother Erda is a strong figure. Froh and Loge function as lively creatures of nature. Both Alberich, shaking in the curse scene, and Mime shine, with stable, clearly articulating voices, as do the juvenile, but also pitiable Rhinedaughters. Fasolt and Fafner offer a special surprise for European ears. Often these roles are occupied by finished bass voices, so that their “dark” timbre stays deep in the memory. This Australian / English tone quality is without the least cavil, and gives a fresh hearing to the role. Asher Fisch proves a further mark as a great conductor, who naturally and colourfully leads the music with grandiose abundance.

Result: this is an outstanding recording of Wagner’s Rheingold. All singers are doing their work at its best. The orchestra marks the highest standard of technical performance and beauty of sound. What a wonderful musical experience!



Read the original review (in German)......  (entry 30a)