OK, folks. I saw the Valencia Ring. I'm mad. Really mad.
For my review, I'll write a fictional piece: it's what I imagine is likely to have happened in real life, under the form of a rant by Video Creator Franc Aleu talking to Stage Director Carlus Padrissa. In Catalan, of course. But for the benefit of our non-Catalan speaking friends (me included) I'll provide the translation of the rant into English.
"Carlus, how could this fiasco have happened? Didn't you talk about it with Helga?? [Almaviva's note: Helga Schmidt, Intendant of the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, Valencia, Spain] Wasn't she supposed to hire some good people to work with us? I mean, after all the spectacular work that you and I have done, shouldn't we have expected to deserve some good singers? A decent conductor??? I know, I know, our Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana is good for nothing, but maybe someone competent - unlike that moron Zubin Mehta - could have extracted something resembling Wagnerian sounds from those musicians. Or at least, could have impacted some soul on the performance, instead of that anemic disaster.
And look, I know that music is that idiot Mehta's department, but as a stage director, couldn't you have talked to him about the casting? One knows that one is in trouble when Fricka is more attractive than Brünnhilde. It's supposed to be the other way around, Carlus!!! See, that Brünnhilde is supposed to ride a flying horse, but how would the horse lift from the ground 2 tones of fat tissue? The time of the fat lady with the breast plate is waaaay past, Carlus. A good Brünnhilde should be able to sing unlike that fat cow, and should try and look the part a little bit.
And what in the hell were you thinking when you let Chu [Almaviva's note: Chu Uroz, Costume Designer] completely ruin the outstanding visuals you and I put together, with those ridiculous-looking costumes for the gods, made of plastic stripes? And give me some attractive Rhinemaidens, for Pete's sake! Roland [Almaviva's note - Roland Olbeter, Stage Designer] comes up with that fabulous idea of the three glass tanks for the Rhinemaidens; I provide the fabulous watery video background, and we get those plain looking women who couldn't sing if their lives depended on it, to be inside the tanks??? Then, the gorgeous idea of the golden baby in my videos symbolizing all the potential the Rhinegold gets completely wasted in a scene with an Alberich who doesn't look scary or despicable, and Rhinemaidens who can't convey any of their characteristics - seductiveness, playfulness, sillyness...
This whole thing was miscast from beginning to end! I get the spectacular special effects of Wotan's and Loge's journey underground with the brilliant idea of Earth's image rolling in the background; I get the even more brilliant image of Nothung's tree made of the letters of Sigmund's name; you get the striking effect of real fire from flamethrowers around Brünnhilde in the final scene of Die Walküre, and also the industrial imagery in the Siegfried scene when the sword is being repaired followed by the beautiful crystals floating on the air once the sword is ready, not to forget the very effective rendition of Fafner as a dragon... and it all keeps being ruined over and over by that fat cow Brünnhilde and that stupid conductor?
Look, you and I put together that human pyramid at the end of Rheingold... that suspended ball of naked bodies in the Ride of the Valkyries scene... the clever effect achieved with empty water bottles when Siegfried is traveling by boat on the Rhine... and to top it all, we do the MOST SPECTACULAR final scene of Götterdämmerung ever staged in the history of the Ring - that jaw dropping wall of fire that opens up to those bodies suspended on the air, while this time really attractive Rhinemaidens (since these didn't need to sing, we were able to get some really beautiful models this time) celebrate their recovery of the Ring... to have it all spoiled by an incompetent conductor, a mediocre orchestra, a horrible costume designer, and singers who not only don't look their parts but also can't sing?
WHAT A WASTED OPPORTUNITY! My, oh my, why on Earth two extremely competent guys like you and me, Carlus, couldn't have associated ourselves with some good musicians? We could have had the best Ring ever. Instead, we got a nice visual show, coupled with a musical and acting disaster!
End of rant.
Edit, months later: interesting, I saw it again (Rheingold only) and this time didn't find the orchestra to be bad. And actually found the Rheinmadens better as well. Anyways, Rheingold in this version is better than the other three thanks to no fat Brünnhilde.