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Last Updated: Monday, 20 December 2004, 18:01 GMT
Press views: The Ring Cycle
Welsh opera star Bryn Terfel made his debut as Wotan in the Royal Opera House's new production of Wagner's Das Rheingold on Saturday with a performance hailed by one critic as 'career-defining'.

RONALD BLUM, ASSOCIATED PRESS

Das Rheingold
The production opened on Saturday

The next great Wotan has arrived. Bryn Terfel sang the role of Wagner's head god for the first time on Saturday night in the premiere of The Royal Opera's new production of Das Rheingold, a macabre staging likely to provoke controversy.

With his burnished bass-baritone, impeccable diction and intense acting, he gave a memorable performance that is likely to deepen over the next decade as he performs Wotan on the world's great stages.

With impeccable singing and fleet conducting by Covent Garden music director Antonio Pappano, the performance was greeted with extended applause from the sell-out crowd.

ANNA PICARD, INDEPENDENT ON SUNDAY

Under Antonio Pappano, the orchestra of the Royal Opera House has gone from being among the world's greatest opera orchestras to being arguably the finest. Last night's transparent and intimate account of the Prelude was the stuff of dreams.

For Bryn Terfel, the Welsh baritone who makes his Royal debut as the doomed god Wotan, it was also a career-defining performance.

Terfel's Wotan has been eagerly anticipated in the opera world, and though his voice is still light for this most demanding role, his natural affinity with the German language and ease of communication makes for a compelling, lyrical and sympathetic portrait of Wagner's anti-hero.

ANDREW CLEMENTS, THE GUARDIAN

Terfel does not disappoint. His singing is glorious from the first note to the last, effortlessly authoritative, sumptuously toned, every particle of the text relished and individually coloured.

Wotan is a role he seems have been born to sing, and in a single performance he defines himself as the leading interpreter of his generation.

[Antonio] Pappano's qualities as a Wagner interpreter remain to be confirmed, though, and the remaining instalments in this Ring cycle will test them more critically.

RUPERT CHRISTIANSEN, DAILY TELEGRAPH

I don't believe in judging a Ring until the last note of Gotterdammerung has faded, but on the evidence of this Rheingold, we are in for an interpretation rich in clever touches and fancy effects, but lacking in any visionary originality or coherence.

There's something West-End-ish about it: that may not be altogether a bad thing, but I don't think that it will melt hearts or change minds in the way that Wagner can.

FIONA MADDOCKS, EVENING STANDARD

For a first performance of Wotan, that was something quite special. Terfel has a voice that has no limits and he can act.

This was amazing and it will grow and grow.

ROBERT THICKNESSE, THE TIMES

Antonio Pappano conducts solidly, with glorious shaping and a sprinkling of those textures only he seems to get out of this orchestra, and some particularly wonderful brass playing.

The cast is as good as its straightjackets will allow: Bryn Terfel authoritative and intensely musical as Wotan, Philip Langridge an excellently enigmatic Loge, Rosalind Plowright a characterful, grasping bourgeoisie as Fricka, Gunter von Kannen a suitably disgusting Alberich, Franz-Josef Selig a rather swoonily romantic giant Fasolt.



SEE ALSO:
Authentic sound for Wagner's Ring
20 Aug 04 |  Entertainment
Royal Opera offers seats for 10
06 Apr 04 |  Entertainment


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