|Simon Estes in Der Fliegende Höllander, Bayreuth, 1985|
A similar image opened Kupfer's next Bayreuth staging, a titanic 1988 production of the Ring cycle. Mr. Kupfer set the entire opera on a dark, mysterious "road of history" receding into the distance. This post-apocalyptic production showed gods, mortals and monsters interacting in a poisoned, ruined world.
The world-ash tree was carbonized and ruined. Hunding lived in an underground bunker, and Mime's cave was half of a broken missile silo. Fafner's cave was a giant pothole on the "road", and the Rhinemaidens were reduced to living in a pumping station, their hair falling out from the poison in their river. Best of a ll, the final apocalypse in Götterdämmerung took place on television, watched mutely by a horrified humanity.
Did we mention that it had really cool lasers and an awesome conductor in the person of Daniel Barenboim? Here's an excerpt from Das Rheingold:
This production of the Ring was revised, updated and filmed a second time in Barcelona. It looked like this:
Other notable Harry Kupfer productions include a Parsifal from Berlin which took place in a bank vault, a memorable Palestrina and his forthcoming version of Ariadne Auf Naxos.