Monday, August 14, 2017
Götterdämmerung at the Festspielhaus
Frank Castorf's Ring at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus is by far the most experimental of any Ring that I have seen. At times, it goes beyond just changing the locale of the original setting, it often creates its own running story which pales in comparison to the epic tale that the composer imagined. Often, Castorf's ideas do not work, or are, rather, so strange and alien to the words and music that he seems to be in another world and wants to take his cast with him.
There is no thematic unity to this Ring. We start in a motel in Texas, and we end up on Wall Street, with some side trips to Baku and an Alexanderplatz filled with hungry alligators. What does it all mean? Why is there a comic character (we called him Squiggy!) who continually stops the action with "shtick" that makes no sense? This is the first immolation scene that features no fire whatsoever, although Brünnhilde does spread some kerosene on the stage. Nothing ignites. Perhaps this is the best way to describe Castorf's staging: Nothing ignites.
This is the final time that this Ring will be presented at Bayreuth. May it rest uneasily forever.