Boos for Kalashnikovs, crocodiles in Bayreuth's 'Siegfried'
Frank Castorf's new production of "Siegfried", the third part of Richard Wagner's monumental "Ring" cycle, drew deafening boos at its premiere late Monday for featuring copulating crocodiles and Kalashnikov rifles.
One audience member had to be carried out after collapsing when the opera's eponymous hero shoots down his opponent Fafner with a machine gun in gang warfare.
The programme had carried a warning about the use of gunfire in the production, but insisted that spectators' hearing would not be compromised or damaged.
Castorf's uncompromising reading had already sparked the audience's ire early on.
The orphan Siegfried is raised by dwarf Mime in a cramped caravan at the foot of Mount Rushmore in the United States. But instead of the heads of US presidents carved into the cliff face, we see the visages of Marx, Lenin, Stalin and Mao.
Siegfried, a boy raised in the shadow of communism, is a small-time gangster, dressed like a pimp with long slick-backed hair.
He slays the dragon Fafner -- portrayed by Castorf as a rival ganglord -- with a Kalashnikov rifle and then murders Mime with a switchblade.
The magnificent, meticulously detailed sets by Serbo-Croatian designer Aleksandar Denic rotate to transport the audience from Mount Rushmore to Alexanderplatz in Berlin before the Wall came down, complete with the Centrum Warenhaus department store, the World Time Clock and the underground and suburban train stations.
The first two acts have the fast pace and gripping story line of a film by Quentin Tarantino.
But Castorf, the enfant terrible and provocateur of German theatre, suddenly transports the audience into a surreal Act 3 where two gigantic crocodiles first copulate and then devour the Forest Bird that leads Siegfried to his love interest Bruennhilde.
Musically, however, the production was a resounding success with all the singers -- Canadian tenor Lance Ryan as Siegfried, German bass-baritone Wolfgang Koch as the Wanderer and British soprano Catherine Foster as Bruennhilde -- rapturously applauded.
Star of the evening, however, was upcoming Russian conductor Kirill Petrenko making his Bayreuth debut with a taut, exciting reading of Wagner's score.
The next and final instalment of Castorf's "Ring" is "Twilight of the Gods" which premieres on Wednesday.
© 2013 AFP