If you're looking for a traditional version of Der Ring Des Nibelungen, don't expect to find it in this austere production by the Stuttgart State Opera. Not only is it in modern dress, but the costumes and sets are the very antithesis of 'chic.' Low lighting, shabby sets, and a complete absence of heroic action, keeps a tight rein on romance. Indeed, the whole tone of this production would be more suitable for Wozzek than for the Ring.
Why do this, when Wagner's work in general and the Ring in particular, is built around the triumph of human romantic love over all other human failings. Nearly 15 hours of skulduggery, subterfuge, robbing, swindling, fudging, fiddling, folly, arrogance, murder and mayhem ends up with a sublime redemption. Love, says the music, conquers all! But the music is out of kilter with the visuals, in this version.
Modern takes on Wagner abound, but one can usually overcome the irritation of inappropriate sets, actions or costumes by allowing the music to woo. To an extent this is possible with the Stuttgart production, but some of the singing is really not that good. There are three different Wotans, among whom Jan-Hendrik Rootering is the least weak. Jon Fredric West's Siegfried is positively comic. This splendid boy hero is is supposed to erupt onto the stage, full of youthful zest but in this production, he wears baggy jeans and looks like a superannuated Mid-West Trucker on a diet of beer and hamburgers. It becomes increasingly clear as the act continues, that he is finding the role rather demanding.
But it's not all bad. Attila Jun makes a sombrely magnificent Hunding and Angela Denoke a totally convincing Sieglinde. Renate Behle is wonderfully stern as Brunnhilde and the closing moments of Die Walkure, despite the infuriatingly pointless staging, is genuinely moving.
This is an interesting Ring to own, but not, perhaps, as one's only version.