About Das Rheingold
La Monnaie offers Congress participants category A, B or C seats for two performances : either the Friday evening performance at 7pm or the Sunday afternoon performance at 3pm (limited number of seats for the Sunday performance).
Congress participants take advantage of a priority until May 23, 2023. Places are allocated in the order of arrival of orders.
6.30pm : meal before the opera performance in a brasserie opposite La Monnaie / De Munt
Choice from the Menu
Reservation : on the day of the performance
Das Rheingold – Richard Wagner
Musical Director : Alain Altinoglu
Production : Roméo Castellucci
Category A : €152
Category B : €134
Category C : €120
Duration : 2h40
Summer 1876: a new and decisive chapter in the history of opera begins. The premiere of Richard Wagner’s four-part Der Ring des Nibelungen at Bayreuth’s purpose-built Festspielhaus was an aesthetic, philosophical and, above all, artistic revolution. During this Bühnenfestspiel – consisting of Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung – Richard Wagner put into practice his new principles for the art of opera.
Staging the Ring presents every modern opera house with a challenge. La Monnaie is preparing to meet this challenge for the first time since the 1980s, spurred on by two figureheads of its artistic family who will join forces for the first time: conductor Alain Altinoglu and director Romeo Castellucci. For each of them, this is the first confrontation with this monument – spread over two seasons.
As Vorabend, Das Rheingold is both a musical and narrative prologue to the rest of Wagner’s tetralogy. Both the swelling Rhine motif at the beginning of the drama and the successive scenes set the tone for the three musical dramas that follow. Das Rheingold tells the story of the gold in the dark waters of the Rhine, which brings a curse on the world through various possessors (the dwarf Alberich, the king of the gods Wotan, and the giant brothers Fasolt and Fafner). For both Das Rheingold and the three subsequent dramas, Wagner drew a total of thirty-four characters from Nordic (Germanic and Scandinavian) mythology and the German Nibelungenlied. Together they tell of the perversion of the world, brought about by the renunciation of love in order to gain power.
Regarding the libretto, Wagner wrote his Ring in reverse order. Although Das Rheingold is thus the first drama of four, Wagner wrote the libretto for this work last. However, he did write the music for it first. Das Rheingold was therefore also the first dramatic work to which Wagner applied the theoretical principles he set out in his Oper und Drama (1851). Moreover, according to many, it is the work in which he applied these principles most rigorously.
Wagner preferred the term music drama to opera, a term that in his view referred to a genre in which music had become the object of expression at the expense of the drama precisely. With him, all art forms – music, theatre and poetry – are brought together to create drama. In Wagner’s libretti for the Ring, words are given a fundamental role in both theatrical and musical expression. To achieve the linguistic unification of this colossal score, Wagner put an end to the predominance of the singers and the voice. Spontaneous, vocal expression, moreover, is devoid of melody, and is entirely at the service of the word. The orchestra has a decisive role here: that of narrator, which the Greeks had reserved for the ancient chorus.
Romeo Castellucci does not approach Wagner’s Ring as a unitary structure: each part is given its own aesthetic form that reveals the core of the drama. His pared-down and symbolic reading of Das Rheingold therefore strips the work down to the essence of natural elements and abstraction, inviting each spectator to form their own interpretation. In the process, Castellucci treats each protagonist with equal attention and without irony, emphasizing the
great aspirations, emotions and thoughts that animate his characters: absolute love and the conquest of power.
Music director Alain Altinoglu knows Wagner’s oeuvre well: we remember his remarkable interpretations in our theatre of Lohengrin (2018), Tristan und Isolde (2019) and the concert performance of Parsifal (2022). In 2015, on the occasion of a series of performances of Lohengrin, he was the first French conductor after Pierre Boulez to conduct in Bayreuth. By venturing into the heart of Wagner’s magnum opus with the La Monnaie Symphony Orchestra, Altinoglu marks another decisive stage in the musical and artistic journey he started with ‘his’ musicians in 2016.
Total artist Romeo Castellucci, who will take on direction, sets, costumes and lighting, is a more than familiar face at La Monnaie. For instance, he made his opera debut here with Parsifal, and left a great impression with Orphée et Eurydice (2014), Die Zauberflöte (2018) and Requiem (2022).
Castellucci will be joined by dramaturge Christian Longchamp, scenographer Paola Villani, costume designer Theresa Wilson and artistic collaborator Maxi Menja Lehmann.
The cast features names that have been engaging with the Wagner repertoire for years and the have also appeared previously in La Monnaie productions. Bass-baritone Gábor Bretz, who makes his role debut with his portrayal of Wotan, thus appeared as Sarastro in Castellucci’s Die Zauberflöte in 2018. Moreover, he gave a solo performance in a Wagner opera here as Heinrich der Vogler in Lohengrin (2018). This production also saw Andrew Foster-Williams, who took to the stage at La Monnaie a year later again for his role debut as Kurwenal in Tristan und Isolde. He will now perform the role of Donner.
The tenor Julian Hubbard, who will perform Froh, has been a regular at La Monnaie for more than a decade, returning last season to sing the title role in the concert performance of Wagner’s Parsifal. This season, he will also perform Peter Quint in The Turn of the Screw for the second time. Nicky Spence, who will interpret Loge, made his house and role debut at La Monnaie ten years ago as Steva Burya in Jenůfa. He was subsequently also seen in The Tale of Tsar Saltan and in the 2022–23 season he performed the title role in Nos.
The goddesses Fricka and Freia will be interpreted respectively by contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux and soprano Anett Fritsch, who made her La Monnaie debut as Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte (2013). Lemieux has already appeared in many La Monnaie productions, including Un ballo in maschera (2015), Œdipe (2011) and Pelléas et Mélisande (2008). We also welcome Nora Gubisch as Erda, having also appeared in Tristan und Isolde as Brangäne, and Scott Hendricks sings Alberich. Since his role and house debut in the title role of Macbeth (2010), the American baritone has made frequent appearances at La Monnaie, most recently in Nos.
Besides Peter Hoare as Mime, we will also see Ante Jerkunica return to La Monnaie, not only as the title role in The Tale of Tsar Saltan, but also as Fasolt. In turn, his brother Fafner is played by Wilhelm Schwinghammer, who should have already made his appearance in 2020 as Gurnemanz in Parsifal (postponed due to Covid). Soprano Eleonore Marguerre, who already appeared at La Monnaie in 2017 and 2018 in Foxie! The Cunning Little Vixen and Frankenstein, performs the role of Woglinde alongside mezzo-soprano Jelena Kordic, who, with her accumulated Wagner experience at the Nationaltheater Mannheim (Die Walküre and Götterdämmerung), makes her house debut at La Monnaie as Wellgunde. In turn, the role of Flosshilde is reserved for Christel Loetzsch, who could already be seen in Macbeth Underworld in 2019.