Wagner: Das Rheingold - McIntyre, Reynolds, Bode, Mazura, Ridderbusch, Sotin; Stein. Bayreuth, 1974
Listen to a Sample:
The 1974 Ring Cycle at Bayreuth got off to an excellent start with an almost ideal cast of singing actors capable of meeting both the vocal as well as the dramatic demands of Wagner’s preliminary evening. Rheingold in many ways is the most difficult of the Ring operas to pull off. The through-composed nature of the score resembles a play more than any of the other operas, making for a night that cannot stand on just excellent music-making. The cast in this performance, headed by the authoritative yet approachable Wotan of Donald McIntyre, lends a very direct and conversational quality to the proceedings, breathing life into the long expository sections of the opera that can otherwise be deadly in the wrong hands. Even if McIntyre’s Wotan may lack the majesty of other bass-baritones, his approach gives the head god an added dose of humanity and he never forgoes his keen connection to Wagner’s prose even during the most vocally challenging moments. Anna Reynolds’ powerful Fricka at times descends into caricature, but still manages to deliver some impressive singing particularly in the moments when she uses her feminine wiles to get her way. Hermin Esser’s lyric Loge bubbles with mercurial energy at every vocal entrance, complete both vocal beauty and dramatic color. Franz Mazura’s elegant baritone lends Alberich’s plight an air of legitimacy often lost amidst the barking and wailing of typical character Wagnerian baritones. Karl Ridderbusch’s noble Fasolt is a drastic contrast to the formidable Hagen he will offer later in the cycle and Hans Sotin’s brief utterances as Fafner still manages to stand out. Horst Stein frames the drama seamlessly even amidst the massive and incredibly detailed orchestration. The sound is good.