The four parts of the 1999 Ring from Staatsoper Stuttgart were assigned to different Directors and casts, each music drama to be treated as a separate entity.
Gotterdammerung opens as the audience arrives and before the orchestra starts playing as three bag women (the Norns) assemble on the stage in front of a black screen of black plastic bin liners that we later learn is the side of the multipurpose set, a wood framed hall with a stage at one end used by a theatrical company. This is a very effective start, and a nice change from the Norns usual gloomy presence.
If only the director Peter Kinwitschny had kept to the very successful modern dress concept of Act 1 this could have been an absorbing finale to the Stuttgart Ring.
However Siegfried (Albert Bonnema) is perceived as a figure of fun, completely devoid of any heroic characteristics, exemplified in the absurd Tarzan leotard and behaviour in the Prologue, and the drama always falters when he is on stage, and on occasions descends into farce.
Brunnhilde's (Luana DeVol) immolation is very effectively sung on an empty stage in a red two piece costume, and during the final music Wagner's totally impractical, but very relevant, stage instructions are projected on a black screen. Unlike some people I do not see this as a cop-out, how often does one think of Wagner's true intention as we listen to the final bars of Gotterdammerung.
Luano DeVol sings a good Brunnhilde, the rest of the siniging is good provincial and the usual fine orchestral support from Lagrosek, acknowledged by the entire orchestra on stage for the final bows.
Stuttgart gives us a very challenging ring, with the inevitable highs and lows associated with a high risk strategy. I suggest renting before buying.