A concert performance of Wagner’s Das Rheingold can be many things, but above all, it’s a colossal job. For almost three hours, a group of singers breathes life into Gods, giants, dwarves, and Rhine-maidens, while a pianist impersonates a huge orchestra playing possibly the most colourful score of any opera ever written. And just to make it really interesting, Wagner doesn’t put any intermissions into that near three-hour test.
Tonight the audience for Opera by Request’s Das Rheingold watched and heard Bill Shookhoff impersonate a giant, providing the backbone for the performance. The undulations of the river, the pounding of the Nibelungen hammers, the thunderstorm and rainbow that followed, were all conjured from the piano by the magician Shookhoff. He was the true star of the show.
In the cast, there were several impressive performances. As Wotan, Andrew Tees’s voice definitely has the appropriate heft and power for Wagner, powerful top to bottom, and especially bright at the top. Alla Ossipova made a wonderful impression in the dual role of Fricka, and an especially powerful Erda. Lenard Whiting showed a broad range of vocal colour as Loge.
John Holland was a very theatrical Alberich, while Nick Gough was persuasive as his brother Mime. Dolores Tjart anchored the Rhine-maidens as Woglinde, and also made a sympathetic Freia.
Opera by Request return June 10th for Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera.