This 11-DVD set documents the 2004 staging of Wagner's Ring cycle at Barcelona's beautiful Gran Teatre del Liceu, a production first seen at the Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin. The producer, eminent Wagnerian Harry Kupfer, sees the cycle as a parable of man's destructive greed and Nature ravaged by man's technology. Kupfer's vision is realized in the stark, semi-abstract sets and direction. The World ash-tree from which the god Wotan wrenches the spear that symbolizes his mastery of the world dominates the stage picture in the early operas, withering in the later ones. Kupfer uses the theatre's advanced stage machinery to effortlessly move among the Valhalla of the gods, the earth, and the Nibelung's underworld realm. A grid screen backdrop changes to suit the action, with projections and Franz Peter David's lighting reflecting off the mirror-like stage surface. So the bridge the gods traverse to reach their new castle in Valhalla in Das Rheingold is indicated here by vertical lights on the backdrop, while the ring of fire that protects the sleeping Brunnhilde on her mountaintop in Die Walküre is accomplished by red bands of light whose glow is reflected onto the stage itself.
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