I’ve just managed to write up my review of Ferdie’s Foodlab, a fantastic banquet style supper club I went to on Saturday. Apart from eating and drinking far too much, I had a wonderful time. My sometime singing teacher Zoe invited me along to see a production of Das Rheingold in Fulham. Now, I’ve been meaning to see Zoe perform for years (literally) and this time I really had no excuse…St John’s Church is less than 10 minutes walk from home. But…Wagner, in a church, with a piano? Well, so close to home it was worth a try…and I am very glad I did!
Apart from seeing the sublime Ms South as Woglinde, one of the three flirty Rhinemaidens there were some excellent performances from many of the cast. I particularly enjoyed the performances of Frika (Elizabeth Russo) and Wotan (Ian Wilson-Pope) and the evil Alberich played by Robert Presley. But, for me, the biggest coup was the production itself, which took us to Texas and set the entire opera with a Dallas theme. It worked. I didn’t think it would…but, clever use of projection, simple props and imaginative costume design helped transport us to a world of Magic, Giants and Goblins in a modern context. The nature of the production meant that the audience felt very much part of the show, it was an intimate experience that could very easily have failed if the quality of the singing and acting had been weaker. The performance was sung in German, with projected surtitles and I took away a comprehensive programme which whilst lacking a glossy red cover, lost nothing in content to its big brothers at the ROH and ENO.
It is worth noting that the cast were uniformly impressive. And, I didn’t notice the piano. That may sound nonsensical, but I’m used to seeing Wagner at the Royal Opera House, I trained as a pianist myself and I know just how hard it is to take an orchestral score and perform a convincing alternative for the 40+ musicians who should be playing on one rather tired grand piano.
So, Zoe, I’m glad you reminded me/coaxed me/pushed me into going. And thank you to the cast and to Ben Woodward for such an excellent production. It had to be seen to be believed.
There are still two performances of Das Rheingold at St John’s Fulham, tonight, 2 September and on Sunday 4th September at 7.30pm. Tickets are £10.