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Citizen LA Magazine – Los Angeles. Review by Birgitte Moos, October 01, 2009
'Siegfried' at Los Angeles Opera. Directed and designed by Achim Freyer
LA Opera stages the Richard Wagner tetralogy 'Ring Cycle' through 2008/10. The third opera in the cycle, 'Siegfried,' just had its premiere at The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
The LA Opera 'Ring Cycle' is conducted by James Conlan, directed and designed by the Berlin-based, internationally known Artist, Achim Freyer. Mr. Freyer also does light and costume design in collaboration with Amanda Freyer and Brian Gale.
The 'Ring Cycle' is based on Norse mythology, Icelandic Sagas, and the Germanic pre-Christian legend of the Song of the Nibelungs; a heroic epic poem written in German in the 12th century. The illiterate but fearless hero of 'The Ring Cycle' is Siegfried. A product of nature, as Siegfried’s mother Sieglinde was sent to the woods with a broken sword. She died in childbirth, and Mime raises Siegfried in the forest, in the hope to get a powerful ring.
The first act opens with light tubes across the stage floor, reminding of a swimming pool. Siegfried sees reflections in the stream, and the mirror effect is furthermore executed by twin figures of the main characters.
The story is visualized by a moving and sometimes tilted revolving stage, like a record player where the story is grooved into, and reflected out in a divine light space, creating three-dimensional effects through projections on fore -and background.
As the drama accumulates, Mime plans to kill Siegfried, but Siegfried fixes the sword, the young hero conquers power with this sword and kills everyone who comes in his way including the dragon Pfafner, and departs for the sleeping Brunhilde. On the journey to Brunhilde, Siegfried encounters Wotan, the king of the Gods, overcomes climbing the mountain, pervades the magic fire, finally arousing the beauty, Brunhilde, who is told to marry whatever man that awakens her.
The stage design evolves throughout a story where values and moral is defined by, that survival is everything, so the final act consists of integrating multilayered visual expressions, ranging from under and oversized objects to a sophisticated retro 80’es neon art show.
A multimedia performance where variation in speed of movements, superb comic book elements, fairytale symbolic references amplifies into a precise abstract interpretation, staying true to the text.
The vocal performances were penetratingly mind stirring and technically more than straight. Music director James Conlon is evident as the Capitan of the orchestral ship, sounding lovely.
I advise Quentin Tarantino, Peter Jackson and David Lynch go see it, as the story contains many of the same classic elements of the Hero Myth as Tolkien and makes use of mythic storytelling, and because this performance proves that the screen hasn’t taken over!
'The Ring Cycle' is ancestral legends, and Achim Freyer hit the tone of the story instinctively, academically, and stunningly! Achim Freyer has proved that age doesn’t play any role when it comes to staying innovative and visionary as an artist.