First seen last year, Longborough’s Rheingold is a miracle of resource, imagination, flair and sheer cussed guts.
The conception is set in no identifiable time (all the more universal for that), and is a triumph for director Alan Privett and designer Kjell Torriset. And Anthony Negus conducts a sturdy and flexible full Wagnerian orchestra with a natural sense of continuity and pacing.
The players are in a hidden orchestra-pit of Bayreuth-like proportions, above which the tiny stage is cunningly given dimensions which seem to make it vast: swinging grids over which characters climb and watch the action below, a raised circular ramp which creates telling perspectives, a cyclorama where simple lighting gobos suggest fiery furnaces and rising and falling Rhine-waters.
On this we watch a tremendous team performance unfold (including invaluable work from the youthful stage crew and an ever-present trio of watchful actors), but one in which many stars stand out.
Bewdley-based Alan Fairs is an Alberich of much personality and vocal charisma. We almost feel sorry for him when confronted with the shabby behaviour of Wotan, leader of the gods (but here rather lacklustre in his portrayal by Phillip Joll, previously a great Wotan for Welsh National Opera).
Peter Bronder repeats his brilliant impish Loge, a stirrer and enabler, but never committing himself to “belonging”.
And a new star is Evelyn Krahe, arresting as a Rhinemaiden, but simply stunning as the all-knowing Earth-mother, Erda.
Funding must be secured to ensure the staging of the rest of the tetralogy, which would complete a Ring cycle of legendary stature. It can’t all be left to the generosity of Martin and Lizzie Graham, who don’t possess the means of King Ludwig II of Bavaria.
* Repeated tonight and Saturday. Running time two hours 40 minutes.