NEW YORK — Stage directors and opera lovers often coexist in a state of enmity. The director wants to reinterpret; the audience wants to see the piece as the composer intended it.
Robert Lepage, the Canadian stage director, offers a compromise with his production of Wagner’s “Ring” that the Metropolitan Opera is unfolding piece by piece, at tremendous expense and with much fanfare, through next season. He focuses his high-tech concept on the staging and leaves the singers lots of room to do what they want.
So why is his “Ring,” which continued Friday night with the premiere of the second of the four operas, “Die Walkure,” so far such a disappointment?
Like “Das Rheingold,” which opened the Met’s season in September, “Die Walkure” is centered on a set (by Carl Fillion) that’s supposed to be a miracle of technical wizardry. It’s a stage-filling unit made up of 24 bar elements, like giant piano keys, mounted on a central axis that enables them to rise and fall and rotate, transformed by projections now into a forest of silvery tree trunks (where Siegmund flees his pursuers), now into a rocky crag veined with molten lava (where the god Wotan and his wife, Fricka, argue about the laws of matrimony). At the start of the third act, eight of the bars stand in for the horses of the Valkyries, thrusting and bucking under the singers’ legs with downright phallic abandon.