From The Herald
Edinburgh Festival Theatre
Though Edinburgh never experienced Scottish Opera`s first production of the Ring as an entity, it has invested magnificently in the second more than 30 years later. Without Sir Brian McMaster`s pertinacity, it would surely never have happened, but now, with Das Rheingold last night and the other three components in the course of the week, the slowly assembled project has at last reached completion.
Has it been worth it? The response of the packed Festival Theatre spoke for itself, as did the grand unfolding of the music conducted by Richard Armstrong and the precise elucidation of the story as presented by Tim Albery. An updated Ring is full of pitfalls. But when this Rheingold was unveiled three years ago, it seemed likely that Scottish Opera was on the road to one of the few triumphant cycles of modern times.
Well, allowing for unpredictable disaster, the company appears to have done the trick. However enthralling the initial performances of Rheingold, this revival is still more gripping, more observant, more articulate, more expressive than what we experienced before.
Albery, with Armstrong providing vivid musical support has seized his opportunity to build on what he had already achieved adding new insights and moments of spectacle. Yet in the process, nothing has been lost. Every stage in what is the most intricate of the four works makes its unmistakable point as the drama moves inexorably to its sourly pessimistic close, in which Albery reserves a special moment of bile for Freia, whose flightiness, in Rachel Hynes`s brilliant portrayal, contributes to the outcome as much as anything else.
In fact, every characterisations is exemplary, the conflict between Matthew Best`s Wotan and Peter Sidhom`s Alberich as impressively defined as that between the Fasolt and Fafner of Carsten Stabell and Markus Hollop. Even the discreet, delicate sound of the anvils in Nibelheim brings freshness to a Rheingold in which every details has been scrupulously re-examined.
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