Town mouse on The Ring Cycle

The waiting is nearly over. By the time this column appears, we shall have heard Das Rheingold at Covent Garden. The tickets were booked a year ago. I’m going with my eldest son, William, who, at the age of 17, is a dedicated, indeed experienced, Wagnerian. It may be genetic. I was at his age.

I must have been 21 when I went to Bayreuth (my second visit) for the 1976 centenary of the Ring Cycle. Imagine the controversy: it was conducted by Pierre Boulez and staged by Patrice Chéreau-French! Loud were the boos, louder still the cheers. Chéreau had applied a Marxist critique, making the gods into capitalists andthe Nibelungen into the oppressed proletariat. There was more than a grain of truth in it.

William has been counting the days, as well as emailing me internet snippets, including photographs of a gentleman in Florida called Howard Rhinegold, in a coruscating shirt. The great question now is where to eat. The main interval in Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung is an hour and 20 minutes. Will that leave enough time to dash to my all-time favourite eatery, the Great Queen Street Restaurant? It is the incarnation of slow food. But Wagner is about nothing if not epic struggles. We’ll give it a try.

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