SUNDAY night sees one of the peak events of the entire Hallé season in Manchester, when Sir Mark Elder conducts a concert performance of the complete Das Rheingold, the first part of Wagner’s Ring Cycle.
The line-up of soloists – and there are a lot of them in Das Rheingold – is truly impressive. Bass-baritone Iain Paterson is Wotan, Susan Bickley is Fricka, and soprano Emma Bell is Freia. The giants, Fafner and Fasolt, are sung by Clive Bayley and Reinhard Hagen, and Susanne Resmark is Erda.
The three Rhinemaidens are to be Sarah Tynan, Jennifer Johnston and Leah-Marian Jones, while Samuel Youn will now be singing Alberich, and Nicky Spence takes over as Mime.
Will Hartmann as Loge, David Stour as Donner, and David Butt Philip as Froh, complete the list.
Sir Mark is planning that this performance will result in a Hallé recording, as the previous ones of Götterdämmerung and Die Walküre have done.
“This is music I’ve lived with since I was very young,” he says. “I prepared Die Walküre and Das Rheingold for Solti when I started out at Covent Garden. It’s like re-opening an old friendship and trying to make it richer. And this great, great music should sound incredible in our wonderful acoustic at the Bridgewater Hall.
“I think the orchestra are going to be very struck, though, by what a different experience is from the other parts of the drama,” he adds.
“The others are so complex by comparison. But it’s a piece of absolute brilliance in the nature of what he wanted it to be.
“The words were the last to be written: he had the whole scheme in front of him by then, but he wanted to introduce the drama in the characters we find here. It shows us that Wotan’s greed was no different from Alberich’s.
“Alberich’s rage, when he loses the ring, is for me the most moving part of the piece.”
He points out the range of characters depicted in Das Rheingold. “Loge, for instance, has to be a German tenor. We have got Will Hartmann – who played a crucial part in Szymanowski’s ‘King Roger’ with me when we did it at the Bregenz Festival. He’ll be a great person to introduce to the Manchester audience.
“And Susanne Resmark was my Mistress Quickly when I did Verdi’s ‘Falstaff’ at Glyndebourne – she’s a great character.”