In instalment two of Keith Warner’s Ring the clutter of Stefanos Lazaridis’s sets impedes the movement and certainly the narrative clarity of the first two acts.
Marie-Jeanne Lecca’s costumes have plenty to say, as in the ornate gown by Rosalind Plowright’s high-powered, neurotic Fricka. But it’s primarily in the individual performances and the music-making that Wagner’s own points are best set forth.
Act I was hampered on the first night by the vocal indisposition of Stephen Milling’s Hunding, though his physicality is powerful on its own. Clive Bayley sang the role trenchantly from the wings. But the heightened lyricism of Eva-Maria Westbroek’s Sieglinde is close to ideal, while Simon O’Neill’s Siegmund has genuine Heldentenor authority, though he tired a little in Act II.
Lisa Gasteen certainly has the vocal guns for Brunnhilde, a part she dispatches with naked energy and plenty of presence. It’s not a subtle or detailed reading, however - for that you have to look to John Tomlinson’s Wotan, which remains the lynchpin of this Ring. Though his vocalism is not ideal for the role - the part lies awkwardly high for him in places - his comprehensive understanding of Wotan’s dilemma is presented with consummate artistry and total commitment. He is without question a great exponent of the role.
Antonio Pappano’s conducting once again shows a progression from a sequence of finely-wrought moments towards a resplendent overview, and the orchestra plays for him like Wagnerian heroes.