OPERA _, DIE WALKURE Festival Theatre, 23, 26, 29 Aug & 1 Sep, 5pm.

Launched to all round critical acclaim at last year’s Festival with Das Rheingold, Scottish Opera’s new production of Wagner’s mighty Ring Cycle bears further fruit this year with the second in the set of four operas, Die Walkiire. Based on the Norse legend of the Nibelung dwarf people, their leader has stolen the gold and made it into a ring. The ring then passes to Wotan, the chief god, but Das Rheingold concludes with Wotan having to hand it over as payment for the latest new- build in these parts, his dream home of Valhalla. And in pre-electronic security days, what can a god do but father nine warrior daughters to protect his property? Of these Valkyries, his favourite is Briinnhilde, but she crosses her dad and Die Walkiire ends up with her being put to sleep on a rock surrounded by fire.

Superficial parallels aside, The Ring has enduring relevance to the present day. ‘To me’ says Richard Armstrong, Music Director of Scottish Opera and driving force behind this mammoth undertaking, ‘the issues The Ring deals with are about money, power, ambition and what happens to personal relationships when it all goes wrong. The lengths that people will go to to achieve their desires are all as relevant now as when Wagner wrote The Ring.’

ROCK FOO FIGHTERS Corn Exchange, Thu 30 Aug.

Seattle's heyday may be a distant memory but the West Coast music scene is still a fertile place. The Foo Fighters faithful are probably now fidgeting for a follow up to 1999's Grammy award winning album There Is Nothing Left To Lose. Yet Dave Grohl, the nucleus around which all things Foo rotate, has been investing his apparently limitless energies into the kind of side projects that have come to be expected in these post- grunge days.

Firstly. Grohl has been playing drums on the third album from that open jam session of a band Queens Of The Stoneage. Given that their last album. Rated R was touted as the most important rock album since Nevermind was released almost exactly a decade ago, it's a collaboration which has a strange yet perfect logic to it.

Secondly, he has been whipping up an album's worth of speed metal in his home studio with Tony lommi of Black Sabbath and Slayer's Kerry King for

32 THE LIST FESTIVAL GUIDE 23 Aug-(3 Set) 2001

his Probot project. Lastly, he's also played on the soon-to-be-released debut album from Tenacious D: a pisstake arena-rock outfit fronted by actor Jack Black who played loudmouth Barry in High Fidelity.

Things may be taking a slightly frivolous turn back at base camp as well. The band have played with Cheap Trick and the remainder of Queen over the last couple of years and for their pre-tour warm up gigs they have been sharing the bill with a Van Halen tribute band. This mucking about may make the hardened fan fear for the Fighters future. Yet

Money power and ambition: as relevant to Wagner then as they are today

Speaking of Die Walkiire in particular, Armstrong says, ‘The music is irresistible. The freshness and sheer sense of youthful passion going on is some of Wagner’s most ravishing writing.’ Available even as a mobile phone ring tone, the ‘Ride Of The Valkyries’ is instantly recognisable. ‘But to get the whole of the ‘Ride Of The Valkyries’ in Act 3 is the most amazing scene.’

Casting is crucial to a successful Ring, especially so when it happens over four consecutive annual Festivals, the last of which - in 2003 - will feature all four operas. Already, Matthew Best is emerging as a powerful new Wotan. ‘lt’s the biggest challenge of the lot’ says Armstrong, ‘but he is absolutely ready for it.’ Elizabeth Byrne sings Briinnhilde. ‘She sang the role earlier this year for the first time,’ says Armstrong, ‘so musically and vocally it’s fresh for her.’

Over five hours long, Die Walkiine might appear daunting for the first-time opera goer. Armstrong thinks otherwise. ‘It’s the one out of the four that is most performed in isolation and is absolutely a piece not to be afraid of.’ And as for the whole thing? ‘For me,’ says Armstrong, ‘it’s a repertoire piece nowadays. For a major company like Scottish Opera, The Ring should be one of the things we do and through this collaboration of the Festival, the Bank of Scotland and Scottish Opera, I hope that is a view that people will come round to.’ (Carol Main)

Get well soon

reassuringly, this is the most stable line-up the band has had in years. The recent gigs were rapturously received and suggest that drummer Taylor Hawkins. bassist Nate Mendel and guitarist Chris Shiflett, form, with Grohl, a fearsomer direct unit. News is too that demos for the new album are in the bag, all recorded with the band‘s legendary speed and aggression. (Tim Abrahams)

STOP PRESS: This show has been cancelled due to band illness. Refunds can be obtained from point of purchase.There are no plans to reschedule the date.

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The best festival music

I Die Walktire See preview, left. , Festival Theatre, 23, 26, 29 Aug 8 1 Sep, 5pm.

I None Of The Above Arguably Edinburgh's most eclectic and forward-thinking evening of music rounds off the Fest with some Chilean classical guitar. new approaches to jazz on piano and harp and Mr McFall’s Chamber, blending tango. classical and whatever else takes their fancy in a well-chilled atmosphere. See panel for preview. The Bongo Club, 26 Aug, 8.30pm.

I Papa M, The Zephyrs and James Orr Complex Louisville, Kentucky’s David Pajo has brought his glistening, spidery guitar-work to bear on a varied palette of underground rock music. Here. in his guise as Papa M he creates a post-rock, country-tinged thing of beauty as a fine closer for Planet Pop. See panel for preview. Liquid Room,

37 Aug, 7pm.

I Boston Symphony

9:; Orchestra Under the guidance

of Guest Principle Conductor

Bernard Hatink, the Orchestra open with Stravinsky‘s Symphony Of Psalms and some luscious ballet scores by Ravel on the 28th and follow this with works by a trio of Czech composers: Smetana, Martinu and Dvorak. the night after. Usher Hall, 28 8 29 Aug, 8pm.

I Soweto String Quartet A four star performance from the South African group (pictured) who take their traditional songs and mix them with contemporary pop and more. See review.

Assembly Rooms, until 24 Aug. 6pm.

I Naked Voices A fifteen-strong

a cappella group who think

nothing of throwing a melange of styles and sounds into their vocal mix. The work of Suzanne Vega. 1,; Curtis Mayfield, Pink Floyd and Bach are given a throaty once over to startling effect. C Venue, until 26 Aug, 72.20pm.