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Director ducks out at start of Bayreuth's new 'Ring'

28 july 2013, 16:34
Controverial German director Frank Castorf refused to show himself at the end of his new staging of Richard Wagner's "Rhinegold" that premiered at the Bayreuth Festival on Friday, AFP reports.

"Rhinegold" is the first of four instalments in Castorf's widely anticipated new production of Wagner's sprawling "Ring" cycle. And it was met with deafening boos and whistles when the curtain went down in the sold-out Festspielhaus theatre built to the composer's own designs.

By contrast, the cast of singers received tumultuous applause and Russian conductor Kirill Petrenko, making his debut on Bayreuth's fabled Green Hill, already seems to have stolen the hearts of the 2,000 Wagner aficionados lucky enough to have secured tickets.

The "Ring" is being seen as the climax of the Wagner bicentenary year.

Castorf, the 62-year-old enfant terrible of German theatre, dispenses with the Nordic gods, giants and dwarfs that people Wagner's monumental masterpiece.

And instead of setting it on the banks of Germany's Rhine river, he transfers the action to a sleazy motel on Route 66 in the United States, where Wotan and the other gods are seedy gangsters and hookers.

The Rhinemaidens are brassy blonde prostitutes, the giants Fafner and Fasolt are thugs with baseball bats and fire god Loge is a sort of paparazzo.

The spectacular set was by Serbo-Croatian designer Aleksandar Denic.

The next instalment of the "Ring" will be "The Valkyrie" which premieres on Saturday.

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