Settings in Castorf’s RING

In the depths of the Rhine, on mountain tops, in chasms and mines, on rocky mountains, in wild regions – these are only a few examples of the mystical locations which Richard Wagner mentions in his scores of the “Ring des Nibelungen”. In his interpretation of the “Ring”, Frank Castorf chooses locations with which the audience is probably familiar in other contexts but perhaps leave questions as to their backgrounds unanswered in spite of their familiarity. In this case, for example, Route 66, oil fields on the Caspian Sea, Mount Rushmore, Alexanderplatz in Berlin with an advertisement for “Plaste und Elaste aus Schkopau” are turned into settings for the action. Castorf’s basic theme here is oil, a resource which, in his interpretation of the “Ring”, opened the way for the history of the 20th century.

In Patric Seibert’s introduction to the work, he speaks of a “fragmentarised world”, such as when surfing the internet or zapping through television channels, and explains that this is why history, and consequently Castorf’s “Ring”, cannot be thought of in linear terms: “When information is generated and collected so rapidly, it is hardly possible to place it in an overall context any longer, fragments offer an impression of the bigger picture”.

We should like to investigate the “bigger picture” and take a closer look at some of the settings which Frank Castorf chooses in his production.