'Das Rheingold,' Trifonov splendid at Tanglewood – New York News

LENOX, Mass. – Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts at Tanglewood this weekend featured something old: pieces by Thomas Ades and Ravel paying homage to Couperin; something new: a premiere by John Williams performed by violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, for whom it was composed; and something borrowed: Wagner’s complete “Das Rheingold,” Saturday’s centerpiece of the weekend.

All were bold undertakings of music director Andris Nelsons, who conducted. “Rheingold,” 2 1/2-hours with no intermission, was a trailblazer showing that concert staging can work – when there are titles, clever acting direction, mostly magnificent voices and a committed conductor. The Latvian-born Nelsons, who started in opera and has led performances at Bayreuth, had not previously shown Tanglewood this side of him.  He conducted with insight and focus – and both hands.

Voices were big, clear and operatic. Several singers are regulars at the Metropolitan Opera and La Scala in Milan. Some were magnificent, starting with Thomas J. Mayer, who has often sung Wotan in his native Germany.  Stephanie Blythe, now a Tanglewood faculty member who stepped into her familiar role on short notice when Dame Sarah Connolly fell ill. She bickered with the lying, cheating Wotan as if she had been putting up with him forever, but couldn’t do much besides complain.

Wotan is obsessed with money, power and women. He makes terrible bargains, assuring Fricka that he doesn’t intend to keep his word. Some of the other gods aren’t troubled by his immorality. His quest for the power-giving ring forged from the Rhinegold is abetted by Loge the…

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