In some ways Siegfried is the most challenging of the Ring operas – for artists and audiences alike. The titular hero is the archetypal “natural” man, liberated from the rule of law, but he often comes across as an amoral bully. Musically, it is generally considered to be less attractive than Die Walküre, although Adorno drew attention to its “incomparably greater architecture”. The vocal demands of the title role are truly formidable, with only a few Heldentenors capable of transcending the difficulties. The Met Opera’s 2011 production rose more successfully to some of these challenges than to others, but on the whole this was an entertaining and unusually likable rendition. In contrast to the cinematic release, one is kept entirely “before the curtain” throughout the opera, with the interval cast interviews and a mini-documentary about the production moved to the very end of the film.

Overall, Robert Lepage did not offer any new conceptual “reading” of the Ring, for which he has been both heavily criticised and hotly defended. The innovations instead lay in the technical realm. The monstrous rotating platforms were noisy and occasionally mutinous in the theatre, but this was less of an issue for the video viewer. From the very beginning of Siegfried, the varied positions which the “machine” could adopt were ingeniously exploited. During the orchestral introduction, the backstory was acted out in dumb show: the first set-up showed Mime taking the newborn Siegfried from his dying mother, followed by a later snapshot of the boy slashing his way through the woods. Video projections of scenery added to the realism, something which was especially effective in the forest scenes in Act II. However, attempts to integrate digital projections with the live action occasionally flopped, as in the risible attempts to make it seem as if the digital wood-bird had nestled on Siegfried’s breast.

The querulous Mime who opens the opera was a hunchback dressed in Steampunk style. Gerhard Siegel immersed himself in the role, acting as the comic butt of Wagner’s untrustworthy sense of humour. Jay Hunter Morris, decked out with a rockstar blond wig, looked every inch the part of Siegfried, but where others have come across as aggressive (e.g. Manfred Jung in the Boulez/Chereau version), he exuded an open-eyed naivety which retained our sympathy (his interview, where one hears his Texan drawl, is a delight). Vocally he is no Lauritz Melchior, and at certain upper parts of his register he sounds a little harsh, but he was effective throughout, despite tiring audibly towards the end of the monster sing.

In terms of vocal quality, the evening belonged to Bryn Terfel as the Wanderer (decorated with a louche-looking black eye). His was not as dramatic a rendition as John Tomlinson’s, or as sympathetic as Donald McIntyre’s, but it was a pleasure to hear, although his voice may possibly be a little light for some tastes. Even during the most forceful moments of the confrontation with Siegfried, he always sounded like he had something in reserve. Deborah Voigt is not (yet) a Brünnhilde for the ages (this is her first Ring), but the love scene felt more believable than sometimes. Eric Owens as Alberich conveyed less menace than others have in the role, but his more tightly wound delivery provided a perfect vocal foil to Wotan in their Act II colloquy. The rest of the cast – Hans-Peter König’s Fafner, Patricia Bardon’s Erda, Mojca Erdmann’s (off-stage) Woodbird – provided solid support. The orchestra under Fabio Luisi’s direction was as tight and accurate as one has grown accustomed to expect, accompanying sympathetically or unleashing fury as needed.