Will people – or gods for that matter – ever learn?

In Das Rheingold, the preliminary evening that kicks off Wagner’s monumental music-drama, gold is stolen and forged into a ring that confers immense power on its possessor.

After that nothing goes right and in the final instalment, Götterdämmerung, we are back where we started. The ring is returned to the Rhinemaidens, original custodians of the gold, the natural forces of water and fire do their cleansing and another cycle can begin. Or not.

Suzanne Chaundy’s production for Melbourne Opera takes no stand on the matter, leaving it for the audience to decide what to take from Wagner’s refashioning of Nordic and Germanic myth. This is a Ring unburdened with 21st century perspectives on the evils of capitalism, environmental destruction or any other contemporary issue one might see a chance to explore.

If such a word can be used in the vicinity of Wagner’s tetralogy, this is a modest approach and, for a small company such as MO, a sensible one. Chaundy places the Ring’s gods, giants, dwarfs and humans in an abstract, vaguely modern setting and lets music, plot and character do their work without too much intervention. Relationships come to the fore...