In the third part of Wagner’s Ring, which concentrates on the adventures of young Siegfried, there remain production elements that puzzle in the Royal Opera’s revival of Keith Warner’s 2004/5 staging. The large crashed plane that dominates Act I turns out to be part of Wotan’s war weaponry. Referred to as the Wanderer in his final appearance in the tetralogy, the god himself still thrusts his spear through Erda at their end of the colloquy in Act III because, according to the director, ‘she has annoyed him terribly’.
Mainly stemming from the late Stefanos Lazaridis’ designs, other blemishes mystify rather than elucidating a complex drama that Warner knows as well as anyone around. Extremely helpful here and throughout are Stewart Spencer’s clear and informative surtitles.
Where this final revival of the staging scores exceptionally highly is in the thrilling and tireless singing of both Stefan Vinke’s Siegfried and Nina Stemme’s Brunnhilde.
Vinke is highly experienced and has sung the role here before, but he sounds transformed: his bright and vigorous tenor now seemingly knows no limits, and he remains just as focused and powerful in the final scene – when he’s joined by Stemme, on equally indefatigable form – for an unforgettable display of Wagnerian vocalism.
Earlier, John Lundgren maintains a dignified presence as the Wanderer, carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.
Gerhard Siegel’s Mime is skilful without quite pulling off the trick of gaining the audience’s sympathy as he revolts them with his duplicity. Johannes Martin Kranzle’s Alberich, Brindley Sherratt’s Fafner and Wiebke Lehmkuhl’s Erda all maintain their previous quality.
Antonio Pappano and the Royal Opera House orchestra form the bedrock of a performance in which momentum is constant, the standard of playing impeccable, and the quality of tone outstanding.