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A Theft




The whole 2h 45m of ENO's Rhinegold seemed to fly by in instant, as can only happen (sometimes) in classical music time. I loved the light-footed, witty, deliberately economical-looking production by Richard Jones/Stewart Laing, and found myself absorbed even in lengthy musical conversations (Wotan-Fricka, Wotan-Loge) that have often had me glancing at my watch in the past. Having already seen ENO's Valkyrie (usually Ring Opera no.2, but the first to appear in this Cycle thanks to some Covid time-warping of production dates) I felt unusually excited to see what happens next in the remaining operas, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung.


Except that I probably won't, because ENO's unsympathetic ACE settlement has put the cycle on hold, quite possibly for good. And so, more bad news, it looks increasingly likely that the productions won't be seen at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, as was originally the plan. This looks to me like a telling example of British 'soft power' draining away before our eyes. Richard Jones is rightly acclaimed world-wide, but his work has a quirky local character, so well suited to London's 'people's opera house' and we couldn't have had a better international platform than the Met Opera to show what our already-modest national arts subsidy can achieve. It's an artistic example of how the new Global Britain is just not going to happen. After watching this Wagner opera about the consequences of a violent robbery, it's now clearer to me that a huge cultural theft is currently in progress, 'right under our very noses'.


Pictured: before curtain up of course, from my excellent and affordable seat in the Coliseum's Upper Circle. I believe this object onstage to be Yggdrasil, the World Ash Tree, which (according to the Norns, in Götterdämmerung)) shrivelled and died after Wotan broke a branch off it to make his spear. Worth remembering at this time of year in the back garden or allotment, when attempting a spot of amateur tree surgery.


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JUDITH WEIR

Composer

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