The first opera from Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen I ever saw was the last one, Gotterdammerung, at the Canadian Opera Company. When it comes to this epic series, you try not to be picky about seeing it in the sequential order of the story, and get it while you can. Luckily, since last Saturday, the Opera de Montreal is bringing to life the first opera of the cycle, Das Rheingold.
The shortest opera of the cycle
For Gotterdammerung, I arrived about 45 minutes after the performance began. I had missed my 9 am bus from Montreal to Toronto (I seriously thought it left at 9:30 am....) But that opera lasted over 4 hours with the intermissions, so overall, it wasn't the end of the world. Not so much the case for Das Rheingold. This 2.5-hour long opera has NO intermission. Sounds like the end of the world maybe, but in all honesty, it's pretty much the same length as a movie. And rest assured, the first time I glanced at my watch, 90 minutes had already gone by.
Pro tip: I brought a protein bar (unwrapped! wouldn't want to cause a commotion!) and ate it half way through the performance. Plus, I saw a few patrons walk in the concert hall with their drinks.
An Epic Opera
The Ring cycle is really the opera version of Lord of the Rings meets Game of Thrones. Dragon, dwarves, sword fighting, (incest), a gold ring, giants. It's essentially very similar. I won't go into explaining the entire 17 hours of opera, but it you want the 2.5 minute version of the story line, check out this funny video, courtesy of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
Wagner's ideal was to unify all art forms through the theatre. The German term Gesamtkunstwerk, which translates to 'complete work of art' or 'all-embracing art form', describes best this type of opera. Inspired by the style of Greek tragedies, Wagner wanted his operas to be universal tales, trancending nationalist boundaries.
Das Rheingold at the Opera de Montreal - The Highlights
Nathan Berg Shines as Alberich
He shined more than the Rhein gold! (insert laughing emoji or eye roll emoji...) He has a beautiful, rich bass voice that is topped with incredible stage presence. I really felt as though the Ring had consumed him and driven the love out of his heart. You could say the Ring was his precious... Get a sense of his portrayal of the dwarf Alberich in this video excerpt from 2016 at the Minnesota Opera.
Bonus Marks for this awesome Ad
I mean, this is just great. #props
Das Rheingold at the opera de montreal