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Siegfried review at Coliseum London

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ENO’s new staging of Wagner’s vast and complex epic reaches its third instalment. Designer Richard Hudson and director Phyllida Lloyd have dropped Wagner’s legendary settings for a modern vernacular. Mime’s forest cave becomes a down-at-heel flat, with his and Siegfried’s bunk beds a yard away from the kitchen sink. The Wanderer consults Erda about the future of the world not in a mountain landscape but in a retirement home, where she sits slumped in front of a TV set.

The problem is not that it isn’t traditional – Tim Albery’s outstanding Scottish Opera staging was anything but conventional – but that it replaces something very big with something very small. The wealth of ideas in Wagner’s drama is scarcely suggested. Worse, some of the lengthy dialogues are just plain dull.

Richard Berkeley-Steele nevertheless impresses with his commitment in the title role. Even if his voice lacks power, his rowdy teenager is near ideal physically. Kathleen Broderick’s Brunnhilde just about gets through her last-scene vocal ordeal, though it is touch and go. Robert Hayward’s Wotan, disguised as the Wanderer, fields plenty of tone but we have no more idea who this character is than when this Ring began.

Even John Graham-Hall’s Mime fails to seize the comic-grotesque potential of a wonderful role. But Andrew Shore’s Alberich and Patricia Bardon’s Erda remind us what ENO’s standards should be.

As does the superb orchestra, though Paul Daniel conducts a shapeless account of the score.

Production Information

Coliseum, London, November 6, 10, 13, 17, 20, 24, 27, December 3

Phyllida Lloyd
English National Opera
Cast includes
Richard Berkeley-Steele, Robert Hayward, Kathleen Broderick, John Graham-Hall
Running time
4hrs 50mins

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