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Old Gods Made New

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The ever-professional Terfel focused on Wotan’s difficulties rather than his own. His aerodynamic bass-baritone glided through thick orchestral currents without ever veering into a bellow. His is a Wotan in his prime, petty of spirit and none too bright, but powerful of voice and will. The rest of the cast dropped hints of potential splendor. As the run rolls on, Blythe will surely juice her supernova mezzo-soprano with more Wagnerian indignation, and Croft will relax into a Loge who not only is conniving and clever but also truly enjoys his skill in handling the plot’s joystick. The charismatic Eric Owens already endows the cartoonish role of Alberich with at least two and a half dimensions, and he may yet shave off a few more ragged ends of caricature.

The Met has come to rely on technology, and the season opener was beamed live to rain-dampened audiences in Times Square and on Lincoln Center’s plaza. It’s too bad, then, that the production was still so buggy that the opera’s final apotheosis—the gods’ march over a rainbow into Valhalla—didn’t happen at all. That glitch, too, will be repaired, but the worry remains that the Met, like Wotan, has mortgaged its destiny for a property full of dazzle and ¬disappointment.

Das Rheingold
By Richard Wagner.
The Metropolitan Opera.
Through April 2.


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