Music, Stage

Ring Cycle: Gotterdammerung (Arts Centre, Melbourne)

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What do the critics think of Gotterdammerung? We review the reviews.
[box]Show times: Mon 25 November 4pm; Wed 4 December 4pm; Fri 13 December 4pm More information [/box]

The low-down

The fiery (quite literally) conclusion to Wagner’s Ring. In Gotterdammerung (or “Twilight of the Gods”) we find our heroes, Siegfried and Brunnhilde, in quite the pickle. Siegfried is due to wed Brunnhilde, but drinks a magic potion and falls madly in love with Gutrune. Eventually, Valhalla, the realm of the Gods, goes up in flames, the ring is returned to the Rhinemaidens (who come back looking a little worse for wear) and all is well in the world again.

Our verdict

Gotterdammerung is the mighty closure, an hour longer than the longest opera which came before it. We entered the theatre at 4 pm, leaving at 11 pm after a rapturous standing ovation which left no doubt how the most important critics – the paying audience — felt about it.  READ OUR REVIEW

What the other critics say

Opera Australia’s first Ring has clearly been the success the company was hoping for. Though they might have wanted slightly more enthusiastic rave reviews, the vast majority have been positive. Gotterdammerung has fared a little better than some of the other chapters (although Eamonn Kelly in The Australian and Andrew Clements in The Guardian weren’t fans of Armfield’s directorial choices). The vocal performances have won consistent praise, and any misgivings critics may have had about Pietari Inkinen’s conducting in earlier operas have been well-and-truly cast aside by now. Consensus rating: 7/10
“Yes, a mixed night, but mostly on the side of the gods. Although I have some concerns about the overall production, there has been much to admire and celebrate in Opera Australia’s first full staging of Der Ring des Nibelungen.” Michael Shmith, The Age
“After the first three instalments of Opera Australia’s Ring it seemed as if there were a number of different approaches vying for attention in Neil Armfield’s production. But Götterdämmerung at least puts on stage something that is more unified. It doesn’t draw together the visual or conceptual threads from the previous operas – for one thing, the idea of a eco-parable seems to have disappeared altogether – but it does present the narrative in clear dramatic images that are entirely consistent on their own terms.” Andrew Clements, The Guardian
“Rounding out the Opera Australia Ring saga, Neil Armfield’s Gotterdammerung delivers moments of transcendent beauty and passionate drama but ultimately suffers from piecemeal interpretation; flitting awkwardly between grand narrative, social satire, community theatre, and daytime melodrama.” Eamonn Kelly, The Australian
“In the final scene, Armfield set a static stage to let the music provide the movement. Conductor Pietari Inkinen led his splendid orchestra, strong in strings and rich in brass, with spacious breadth, allowing details and phrases to unfold unhurriedly and completely.” Peter McCallum, Sydney Morning Herald
“Director Neil Armfield’s challenging but cohesive interpretations made meaning in the previous operas. Concluding Götterdämmerung with these modern responses to tragedy has less immediate meaning than those in the preceding operas… With nearly the entire company on stage, including the orchestra, the performance was given a 10-minute ovation. So, while not everything in Armfield’s vision may have come across, a lot of Wagner’s musical vision did.”  Michael Magnusson, ArtsHub

“The curtain call with over 200 souls on stage (including the orchestra bearing their weird and wonderful noise-makers aloft) was deeply moving in itself, partly due to the afterglow of the closing bars, but also because of the sense of vast collective effort in this most massive of all live artistic endeavors. Finally Opera Australia have a Ring, and this production by the country’s finest theatre director with his brilliant creative team, and superb young maestro Pietari Inkinen with his equally remarkable band, is one of which opera patrons and all Australians can be very proud.” Alan John, Limelight

Verdict

A strong finale to a truly epic experience.

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