California lawyer, informed classical music aficionado, and blogger George M. Wallace of A Fool In The Forest has experienced at firsthand the Achim Freyer staging of Wagner's Ring, and, in answer to complaints about that staging's artistic merit by tenor John Treleaven (the Siegfried) and soprano Linda Watson (the Brünnhilde) as reported in this Los Angeles Times piece, had, in part, this to say about the staging:
It isn't really about Achim Freyer or his directorial "vision".... To Freyer's credit his production is, for all its eccentricities, very much about the Ring as Wagner wrote it. The layering of symbols, the expressionist/expressionless masks, the outré costuming, the doubling and tripling of characters, all of it serves as an elaborate mechanism for "getting at what Wagner was getting at." Figuring it all out is a challenge for the audience, but the necessary effort and attention pays off and, paradoxically, out from all the clutter emerges a remarkable clarity.This might seem like good news; something that should make us rest easy concerning this staging. Alas, what it does is seem to confirm our worst fears concerning it, for as we wrote in part in this S&F post of 20 April:
In the case of the Freyer staging of the Ring, as we've previously remarked, we can't really be sure of this judgment [that Freyer seems to have gone the Eurotrash Regietheater route] just from printed reports and production photos as we can in the case of clear Eurotrash, and would need to see in the theater the staging of the entire cycle before we could be certain of anything about it other than that the staging seems to be on at least the right mythological track. The staging's manifest complexity demands such firsthand experience of it before any meaningful judgment can be rendered, a judgment that hinges on the answer to the question, Does all that complexity work to transmit to the audience the dramatic core and sense and emotional wallop of Wagner's drama as it's being played out onstage and in the orchestra pit, or does it work to make the dramatic core and sense of that drama understandable only after one has mulled it over and worked it out intellectually after the fact (that is, assuming it makes dramatic sense intellectually)? If the former, then the staging is right and true; if the latter, then it's not and almost certainly Eurotrash Regietheater. And there's a third possibility to consider: Does all that complexity work not to transmit the dramatic core and sense of Wagner's drama, but instead work to transmit Freyer's commentary on Wagner's drama? If that in fact is what it works to do, then the staging is top-to-bottom wrong and false and unmitigated Eurotrash Regietheater.But perhaps it's only the wording of Mr. Wallace's commentary that's at fault here, and not Freyer's staging. Would that it's so.