“I see Der Ring des Nibelungen as one of the finest works of the opera genre. I was already fascinated by it when I was young, and one of my first Ring memories is seeing Patrice Chéreau’s Jahrhundertring from Bayreuth on television. I started to watch Das Rheingold half-heartedly, but the opera had me hooked and I was compelled to see the other parts, too.
I was instantly carried away by both the music and the story. I’d seen many operas before, but this was a life-changing experience; the story is so interesting and captivating.
Wagner himself described Das Rheingold as a black comedy. It’s this fairy-tale nature that makes Das Rheingold such a challenge. Even though the opera has dark undertones, it’s only a beginning – a prologue that sets the scene and presents the themes of an epic saga.
I wanted the gods to clearly represent those of antiquity. They live irresponsible and conceited lives without considering the consequences, as this is how it’s always been. When they must suddenly face the repercussions of their actions, everything collapses. Greed takes over, and they find themselves on the verge of a catastrophe.
Similarly, our western lifestyle has been very inconsiderate, self-centred and narcissistic for a long time.
We are living in contradictory times. Extreme individualism, which is more ego-centric than ever, is contrasted by a new spiritualism, and the rise of yoga and meditation as trendy pastimes. Looking after one’s mental well-being and contemplating the intangible and immaterial has become more widely accepted.
What I find particularly fascinating is the juxtaposition of the western and eastern cultures and philosophies. Western religions stress the importance of the individual and the ego, while oriental religions emphasise ideas of the world having a soul, and respecting nature. To me it was always clear that the tale of the Ring couldn’t be told without including a story of spiritual growth.
The beauty of Wagner’s operas is the fact that the music is all you need. By scrutinising the score, you will always find something new and interesting. Music is the beginning and end of everything, and as a director you must embrace that: the themes and leitmotifs dictate the events on the stage. The Ring is not the director’s art, but rather a holistic work of art.
I’ve never heard anyone say they regretted having gone to see the Ring. Watching the Ring is always a win.
The opera is so multifaceted that everyone is bound to leave with something. The fact that we have the opportunity to produce such a colossal work here in Finland is already amazing in itself. The experience is a sum of everything coming together: we have a wonderful conductor, local soloists, and an entire team putting their hearts and souls into the production. Watching the Ring is always a win.”
Text: PETRA RÖNKÄ