Das Rheingold
Academy of Vocal Arts, Philadelphia

The hearts of many Wagner fans must have skipped a beat when the Academy of Vocal Arts announced a production of Das Rheingold. Those hearts skipped another beat after they discovered AVA was performing this grandly orchestrated score with a piano accompaniment.

Any doubt about the piano accompaniment disappeared at the end of Saturday's performance. As the Gods crossed the rainbow bridge to Valhalla, one missed the sonic splendor of Wagner's orchestra but nothing else, so persuasive was the production.

Despite the grandeur of the music, Das Rheingold is a fairly intimate work. Director David Gately stages these scenes imaginatively and deftly and tells the dramatic story with remarkable clarity.

Gately fills the dark bare set with vivid action. He suggests water as the Rhine maidens cavort in the opening scene and comes up with simple but effective solutions for showing Alberech's transformation into a dragon and a toad.

— Courier-Post

Local audiences encountered a complete rendition of the mighty opening of the monumental "Ring Cycle". From both musical and theatrical standpoints, the performance was a stunning success.

David Gately's stage direction accepted the special limitations of the theater's small stage and made the most of the tight focus forced upon him and his cast. Actions were limited in scope but boundless in excitement.

— News of Delaware County

In one of the most audacious endeavors in recent local opera seasons, the Academy of Vocal Arts Opera Theater opened its production of Wagner's Das Rheingold this weekend in Philadelphia. And yet the AVA Opera Theater pulled it off.

David Gately's stage direction was evocative but never fussy, rhetorical but never flamboyant, it maintained a surging drive toward the plot's culmination so efficaciously that the two and a half hours of the opera's single, unbroken act arched across its dramatic structure with unflagging energy.

— Chestnut Hill Local

I hoped the production would be good. I did not expect it to be great, and I never thought it would be better than all the many performances of Rheingold I have previously seen. A great student performance of Wagner is supposed to be an oxymoron: no one should underestimate the AVA.

The quality of the acting was miles above what one usually has to sit through these days.

— Mark Beers, Philadelphia Weekly Music Critic