DAS RHEINGOLD • ZÜRICH
REVIEW DAS RHEINGLD ZURICH: LEAN & MEAN WAGNER IN ÜBERCOOL STAGE DESIGN
Das Rheingold sets the stage for all the fuss CEO of Gods Wotan has to put up with in the rest of Wagner’s Ring.
The actors are set up as a kind of chess pieces that will confront and cross paths in an almost unimaginable mess of storylines and issues in the following episodes of the Ring – resulting in an all-consuming disaster.
Here in the first volume we meet Wotan (Odin) himself, the gnome Alberich, Wotans wife Fricka and her annoying sister, who becomes the conflict trigger when she is taken hostage in a celeber construction scandal until the bill is paid.
Add a couple of lumpen giants plus Wotan’s PA Loke, who with cunning guile and a little wizardry does great service as the chief’s faithful sidekick.
In this reimagining by Zurich Opera’s esteemed boss Andreas Homoki, it’s Loke for once who runs with most of the attention.
The interpretation has moved to a super-aesthetic present-day universe in designer-white chambers on a slowly rotating revolving stage, so that you are constantly entering new space that looks like the one you came from, and yet not.
A refined stagecraft, with room for new sets and props each time the actors move from one space to another.
The bed with the three Rhodes as Marilyn Monroe clones with pouty mouths and seductive white silk satin dresses.
The mountain of excavated earth from the mine, where Alberich, with a lashing whip, keeps his slaves busy digging for gold.
The gigantic, gold-framed painting of Valhalla – Wotan’s newly built domicile – on which the giants Fafner and Fasolt in Jewish-inspired dress sit awaiting their payment.
All the gold, which must clear the debt and be supplemented by the ‘Ring’, which in this version has taken the form of a golden apple, everyone wants a bite of.
A superbly conceived and modern staging that lifts Wagner’s classic drama out of its old-school context and into the present day.
Some have criticized the production for being Wagner Light and a little too understated.
A view that is perhaps defensible, but also countered from a slightly more modernist/offensive viewpoint – classical interpretations are surely enough.
If you miss heavy swords, huge tits in iron crosses and long, bright Heidi braids, stream GOT or Vikings when you get home – that one’s done.
The singers are (of course) top class here in the beautiful Opernhaus Zürich, which despite its shabbiness is among the very best houses in Europe. (Some call it a boutique opera.)
Making a strong impression on this rainy evening, the first performance after the gala premiere, is Loke in a Johnny Depp, demonic barefoot portrayal by German Stuttgart tenor Matthias Klink in top hat and long, orange velour coat. Klink will also be seen in both das Rhingold and Siegfried next year in Zurich.
Wotan is powerfully sung by Polish bass Tomasz Konieczny, who has quite a few Wagner roles under his belt.
Albericht, sung by the English baritone Christopher Purves tops the cast with a first class performance, vocally as well as dramatically. Real dumb bastard, the mean gnome!
Donner and Froh are glorious as Wotan’s bullies with cricket bats, straw hats and striped sports jackets. Among the female singers, Irish mezzo Patricia Bardon impresses as Fricka.
The stage-design oozes good taste and confidence, and becomes one of the main attractions of this superior version of The Rhingold in an opera house that, with its rich repertoire and high level of quality, is so unquestionably worth a trip. The Ring continues with the premiere dates below. See you.
Valkyrie 18 September 2022
Siegfried 5. March 2023
Götterdämmerung 5. November 2023
RED SHOCK AT RICO’S
Rico’s is a red shock of a Michelin restaurant just on the outskirts of Zurich (taxi 15 min.) Visit it if you get the chance. Read here why.
Owner and chef Rico Zandonella is an exceptionally likeable and festive gentleman with many facets.
He presents himself as a ‘Bird of Paradise and Dreamer’, an aesthete and perfectionist, a man with an alert mind and ideas of his own, motivated by the desire to create a restaurant based on the chef’s own presence and personality.
Rico’s is characterized by visible joie de vivre and a rather glorious atmosphere, which is shaped and implemented by his entire team.
I had a chat with him after dinner, where he greeted at the tables. (When from Copenhagen like me, Just say NOMA, wherever you are in the restaurant world, and the conversation is on.
Originally, Rico had an art house in the cozy house on the edge of beautiful Lake Zurich. But decided to go all in on the gastronomy and today has 2 Michelin stars. It was easy to see that the house was full of regulars.
Rico has a crush on colour in general and red in particular. The restaurant is a red shock of leather, pictures paintings, walls, ceilings, lamps and sculptures in red.
I ran with the tasting menu, which was both ambitious and finely balanced in portion sizes.
Each serving was sharply cut, with the penchant for perfectionism in color, texture and rarely beautiful food design that is Rico’s hallmark.
The menu is exquisite, and you can choose from 3 to 8 courses. I landed on 5-6 pieces out of sheer curiosity and didn’t regret a bite.
Goose liver sandwich with toasted brioche, granny smith apple and tuna tataki.
Alpine Swiss salmon (Lostallo) prepared as a structure with beetroot, tabbouleh, praline, cucumber and vanilla.
Lemon risotto with Patagonian prawns, calamaretti, pearl tomatoes and peas.
Wild caught sole with spring carrots, fennel and saffron – swimming in sauce nage of broth, butter and wine.
White asparagus with Périgord truffle, chervil and Emmental.
Veal fillet on navettes (a kind of sweet little cake) with onion cream and falafel, pink pepper and juniper berries.
Yuzu desert cream (Japanese citrus) with strawberries, rhubarb and pomegranate sorbet.
Can you do more? Then close the party with dark chocolate, salted caramel and popcorn ice cream!