DAS RHEINGOLD at Longborough Festival Opera

Having been privileged to watch the entire dress rehearsal of this revival of the 2019 production of Wagner's mythological epic, I can say it's genuinely great in every way.

From the mezmerizing opening of the Prelude with its sustained drone down in the depths of the double-basses, to the radiant conclusion as the gods ascend to Valhalla over the rainbow bridge, while the Rhinemaidens lament far below, it holds the audience enthralled. 

Every scene of the unfolding drama is made intelligible and gripping. For those who can't follow every word of the German, we have English surtitles and the acting is superb. 

Paul Carey Jones' performance as Wotan with his darkly powerful voice is riveting. Driven by ambition, he makes a shameful deal with the giants to hand over the goddess Freia as payment for building a splendid abode worthy of the immortals, Valhalla. Only the realisation that without Freia the other gods will grow old and die forces him to find another plan, to steal the treasure of the Nibelung, suggested by fire-god Loge, the joker and trickster, sung by Marc Le Brocq.

There is some dark comedy and plenty of tragedy here. The beautiful Rhinemaidens cruelly mock the ugly dwarf Alberich and enrage him until he gets his revenge by tricking them out of their gold. Alberich is the original incel - you've got to feel sorry for him, though his renunciation of love is shocking.

Fasholt in this production comes over as a tragic figure. He does not want to relinquish Freia, and protests that they need a woman in their dreary all-male realm. He is entranced by her beauty, her eyes, while Fafner lusts only for the gold. When Freia is released, and Fafner finally obtains the treasure, the speed with which he clubs Fasholt to death is breathtaking.

The curse of the Ring has been clearly seen and the triumphant entry to Valhalla finally takes place in an ominous mood.

The production uses a backdrop with ever-moving projected images, flowing into each other, creating light, darkness, space and evocative shapes, all very atmospheric. 

Conducted by Anthony Negus.

Fabulous performances by every singer.