Monday 7 October 2013

R.I.P. Patrice Chéreau, 1944-2013

There are many other things for which he should and will be remembered, but the 'Centenary' Ring, still the most compelling on film, will always take first place. Alas, some of us were not around to see it in the Festspielhaus, but many years later, I was able to borrow the video cassettes one by one from my music teacher, to experience a Ring revelation second only (or at any rate, joint second with my first 'live' Ring, some years hence ) to my very first summer holiday immersion in the CDs and the scores. Unthinking reactionaries condemned him - and indeed Boulez - then just as indiscriminately as they spew forth hatred today at most of today's most interesting opera directors. They have been proved utterly, almost but not quite magnificently, wrong; they will be once again. But enough of that for the moment. For Konzept and Personenregie - as we have come to known them since - alike, this has never been equalled. Even with respect to that notoriously tricky medium of opera on film, where one may often be interested to see something once, or even twice, but will soon find oneself seeking Brünnhilde's neue Taten, the fascination never fades. If I were to recommend but one example of opera on DVD to you, then it would be this. And my own book on the Ring, for whatever this may be worth, has as its front cover an image from the Immolation Scene of this great production, Gwyneth Jones resplendent, the workers almost straight Brecht-Weill looking searchingly to us, to the future.