Yesterday evening, the LA Opera production of Das Rheingold was resplendent, vivid, and highly visual.
For people with previous Ring experience, this Rheingold adds a new dimension. The production is visually arresting! Your eyes are challenged to process the stage events much as the Wagnerian music and complex archetypal drama challenges your ears and brain process.
The Brechtian “alienation effect” controls all the staging: the audience is supposed to think and understand rather than react by emotionally identifying with the illusory characters on stage . The initial weirdness of the staging subsides as the metaphors emerge: Wotan’s spear is a shaft of light; Fasolt & Fafner wield large lenses to reflect their magnitude; Loge’s multiple puppet arms reveal his sleight-of-hand skills; Froh and Donner whimsically float in the air. The colors and lights shift constantly within each scene and stimulate the eyes. Contrasts of scale continually surprise, and the audience comes to follow the human-size walking Wotan as an extension of the giant floating Wotan hovering over a side of the stage.
Achim Freyer makes the point like no other production: Loge is the Devil, Goethe‘s Mephistophiles who uses clever logic to tempt Faust. Freyer places Loge at the center of Rheingold and gives him the costume that leaves no doubt about his identity.