The New York Times Review

By Anthony Tommasini

  • Nov. 11, 2017

CHICAGO — Many productions of Wagner’s “Die Walküre” stage the “Ride of the Valkyries” scene as a rowdy reunion. We see eight Valkyrie sisters, who arrive on their flying steeds, assemble at a mountaintop to greet one another giddily.

Of course, these warrior maidens have weighty responsibilities. At the command of their father, Wotan, they must bring the bodies of fallen heroes to Valhalla, revive them, and then press them into service defending this fortress of the gods. That’s what the director David Pountney emphasizes in his very theatrical new production of “Die Walküre” for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the second installment of the company’s complete “Ring” cycle, which began last season with a new “Das Rheingold.” I attended Friday’s performance.

In this staging, the bloodied bodies of the fallen are everywhere: hanging like corpses on a huge rope net at the back of the stage; lying limp on surgical tables; stuffed in body bags tethered to the horses of Valkyries, who deposit them with a thud on the ground. This place is a combination sweatshop and emergency ward. The grind has become routine for these boisterous, singing Valkyries, in their crimson-red work dresses, who sponge down the dead bodies, cleanse limbs with water hoses, and try to slap them awake.

Their flying steeds here become metal horses on long-armed cranes that rise and fall and roll on wheels — operated by a visible crew of stagehands. The conceit of Mr. Pountney’s “Ring” involves a behind-the-scenes look at a performing troupe presenting a show in an old theater. We see the mechanics of all the stage tricks.

There is resonance to this concept. The stories of the old myths and legends, including Wagner’s “Ring” operas, have been told many times before. We are watching these players tell this one again.

Their flying steeds here become metal horses on long-armed cranes that rise and fall and roll on wheels — operated by a visible crew of stagehands. The conceit of Mr. Pountney’s “Ring” involves a behind-the-scenes look at a performing troupe presenting a show in an old theater. We see the mechanics of all the stage tricks.

There is resonance to this concept. The stories of the old myths and legends, including Wagner’s “Ring” operas, have been told many times before. We are watching these players tell this one again.

Full Review 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/11/arts/lyric-opera-of-chicago-offers-very-theatrical-die-walkure.html

Comment