Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for THe Ring in Berlin

The Ring in Berlin – Part Three

The third installment of our Berlin Ring cycle – Siegfried – took place on Sunday, April 7 (by total coincidence, “International Holocaust Remembrance Day”). The curtain was particularly early that day – 4 PM – presumably to allow everyone to get home for a workday on the morrow. It would appear that everyone was aware of the early curtain time except the Canadian singer Lance Ryan, who was scheduled to sing Siegfried. I heard Lance Ryan sing the role of Siegfried in this exact production at La Scala in Milan in November of 2012. He was brilliant, and the La Scala audience – no easy sell when it comes to Wagner – gave him an appropriate ovation. There were no such ovations for Mr. Ryan on Sunday, April 7, at least not at first, as he apparently thought the show was to begin at 6 PM. So it was that twenty minutes before curtain time there was no Siegfried in the house. We – the audience – calmly took our seats, unaware of the panic going on backstage. With the clock thus ticking, Daniel Barenboim made a phone call to the young Austrian tenor Andreas Schager who had, a few […]

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The Ring in Berlin – Part Two

The permanent home of the Berlin State Theater (the “Staatsoper”) is a magnificent, traditionally arrayed 1300-seat theater on the Unter den Linden, Berlin’s equivalent to Paris’ Champs Elysées and New York’s Fifth Avenue. The theater has been closed for renovations since 2010, and will likely remain closed until 2015. Thus, performances have been transferred across town to the Schiller Theater, a considerably smaller and more modern theater (with big, cushy, movie theater-like seats set – like Wagner’s own theater in Bayreuth – at a fairly steep pitch). It was a fabulous place to see and hear The Ring. We sat in row six, and the sound in this small, wood-paneled theater was truly awesome. The huge orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim was kidney-rattlingly brilliant, and offered up pretty much the best stretch of orchestral playing I have ever heard. The singers were likewise wonderful, from top-to-bottom. To single out just a few: René Pape was a brooding and intense Wotan; the ageless (57 year-old) Waltraud Meier sang Sieglinde; and the Swedish soprano Iréne Theorin played Brünnhilde. And what a Brünnhilde she was! Diva Theorin is as big as a Schloss: with a front-end like twin locomotives, arms and back like […]

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The Ring in Berlin Part One

Safely (and warmly) ensconced back in northern California, I will offer over the next few days a report of what was, by any measure, an extraordinary Ring cycle in Berlin. I would begin with the bad news. The supertitles were all in German! Arghh!!! Of all the nerve! Granted, I’ll be the first to admit that here in the U.S. of A., opera supertitles are provided only in English. But then, the operas being performed are not in English, so at least such American supertitles do indeed offer a translation from one language to another. But no such translations were made available in Berlin (and I am told this is standard-operating procedure across Germany where supertitles, if they are provided at all, are always in German); either you speak/read German or you are seriously out of luck. Now. The Ring-o-philes among us might claim that any Ring-o-holic should be familiar enough with the story as to not require the sort of translational crutch supertitles provide. Yes, yes: without intending to sound overly defensive, I would I concede that I am familiar with the story of The Ring. And yes, yes: my German is passable, sort of. But still, the fact […]

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