Classical KUSC Blog

June 7, 2010

LA Ring Blog – Installment #10

Filed under: Capparela's Blogarellium,LA Ring Blog — classicalkusc @ 3:47 pm

Der Blog des Nibelungen

— by Rich Capparela (and Wagner friends and foes everywhere)

10. World Ends (Film at 11) — 6/6/2010

Sunday night at 11 pm the world ended – again. This time it marked the conclusion of the first complete Los Angeles Ring. There are still two more trips down the Rhine within the walls of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and they are not to be missed. Sunday night everything finally came together for Los Angeles Opera’s “Der Ring des Nibelungen” (in spite of a snake bitten history including but not limited to: U.S. economic meltdowns; global economic meltdowns; Icelandic volcanic ash; a plunging Euro; an initially mixed reaction to the Achim Freyer production design; anti-Wagner protests; publicly squabbling singers; a massive operating budget shortfall and even, for God’s sake, competition with Lakers playoff games). Talk about a cursed ring.

And yet.

Redemption was in abundance Sunday night. When Achim Freyer walked onto the stage at the conclusion of the performance many of us braced ourselves. Would we hear another cacophonous outpouring of boos and catcalls as had been the case following the debut of Twilight of the Gods?

No. This time a couple of naysayers managed to get in a briefly audible cry of disapproval upon seeing Mr. Freyer’s form join the cast on stage, but they were immediately and decisively drowned out by a rapturous round of cheers.

What a difference a few weeks can make. This was the same production, same singers, same hall, same orchestra. This time the audience was, for lack of a better word, pre-selected. Those in attendance knew what they were getting into, and they liked what they saw and what they heard. Those who did not embrace Freyer’s vision were at home watching their DVD of the Metropolitan Opera Otto Schenk Ring. Or the Lakers.

The Ring makes demands upon the listener and this is a production that doesn’t make it a walk in the park. Freyer obviously hopes that you know the story well enough so that you can pick up on a few of the references he tosses in at breakneck pace. For the newcomer, the riches of this production may well become clear only in retrospect. That does not by any stretch mean that those unfamiliar with the Wagner’s epic should avoid this particular Ring. Quite the contrary. Jump in. Let the music wash over you, let the composer’s metaphors stimulate you, let Freyer’s colorful, whimsical, thoughtful, provocative vision dazzle you and confound you. Days, weeks, months or even years from you’ll find yourself having one of those “Holy crap! Now I get it” moments.

As someone who has spent all of his adult life immersed in this music, I urge you to take a chance. Do not miss this relevant, and yes, faithful Ring. The water’s fine, even if that water does contain babies with removable heads, mini-dragons, Harpo Marx super heros, bobble head dwarfs, death Goddesses on bicycles, gold-plated top hats & the goofiest airplane ever to appear in opera.

In the words of Wotan to Hunding – Geh’! Geh’!

- Rich Capparela

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6 Comments »

  1. So, was there a computer malfunction in Act III? Or was the display a commentary on the passage of time or the deconstruction of our computer-based society at the end of time?

    Comment by Louise Yuhas — June 8, 2010 @ 10:31 am | Reply

  2. Louise,

    Nope. The “event” in act three at the moment Hagen kills Siegfried is quite deliberate. Either or your theories works for me, as does the one I’ve heard that says that all time leads up to and away from the moment of Siegfried’s death. Interestingly, those sitting in the higher balconies don’t see that deep stage effect at all. Also, did you happen to notice the translation of the very last line in the opera? All of act three is a deconstruction.

    Or something.

    Comment by Rich Capparela — June 8, 2010 @ 11:37 am | Reply

  3. I was one of the many members of the audience cheering Freyer’s production on Sunday. I’m not a Ring devotee or even a seasoned opera goer, but, as a historian with an interest in the visual arts and modern performance, I was drawn to this production by the still images I’d seen of it and am so pleased that I decided to attend the entire first cycle. I wasn’t entirely convinced by all of Freyer’s choices — the costumes of the human characters, especially Siegfried’s, were particularly puzzling — but I was always intrigued and very impressed by the many arresting visual images, which often clearly communicated Freyer’s interpretation of the work. I am thrilled that the l.a. opera chose to stage this production, which I think has been a great fit for the city. One of the things I love most about Los Angeles is that patronage of the arts here does not seem to carry with it the same burden of class distinction that it does in other cities I’ve lived (Chicago, Boston, San Francisco), which can allow for some real innovation and creative work that will attract, challenge, and inspire audiences. I hope I’m not alone in being a young Angeleno (I’m in my early thirties) whose curiosity in the opera has been excited by this staging of the Ring. I don’t know that I’ll ever be an annual subscriber — I wish that public universities in California paid professors enough that this were possible! — but I am definitely going to attend one or two performances of the l.a. opera each season well into the future, which would not be the case if it were not for this exciting production of the Ring. Also, James Conlon’s brilliant pre-performance lectures — the envy, I’m sure, of educators everywhere — also played a big part in inspiring my new interest in learning more about the opera. His passion is infectious.

    Comment by Miriam Neirick — June 8, 2010 @ 4:28 pm | Reply

  4. OK, I’m a rank first timer. First ever Wagnerian opera ever, Ring or no ring. Tonights Rhinegold was my first opera since seeing Joan Sutherland in AIDA in high school in the mid-60s. I am a choral singer and have been a subscriber to the Master Chorale, but never really got in to opera. I LOVED IT! It’s campy, comicy, pop-arty, Punch&Judy-y, etc. I absolutely had no pre-conceived expectations and was prepared for “whatever” I got. I now have every intention of attending a more “traditional” production for that experience as well. A new convert here. The final scene with the red Rhine ever heavingly expanding soooo reminded me of trying to make up a king bed with the assistance of an uncooperative cat! Back for more Thurs, Sun & Wed.

    Comment by Marilyn Oltmans — June 9, 2010 @ 12:16 am | Reply

  5. I have another question to throw out about this production. What’s up with all of the doubles who appear sporadically. I can’t quite see a pattern, although I do get a sense of ambiguity, duality, contradiction, ambivalence, and alienation that is echoed in other aspects of the production. What do others think?

    Comment by Jeff Horton — June 9, 2010 @ 2:52 pm | Reply

  6. I was one of the many members of the audience cheering Freyer’s production on Sunday. I’m not a Ring devotee or even a seasoned opera goer, but, as a historian with an interest in the visual arts and modern performance, I was drawn to this production by the still images I’d seen of it and am so pleased that I decided to attend the entire first cycle. I wasn’t entirely convinced by all of Freyer’s choices — the costumes of the human characters, especially Siegfried’s, were particularly puzzling — but I was always intrigued and very impressed by the many arresting visual images, which often clearly communicated Freyer’s interpretation of the work. I am thrilled that the l.a. opera chose to stage this production, which I think has been a great fit for the city. One of the things I love most about Los Angeles is that patronage of the arts here does not seem to carry with it the same burden of class distinction that it does in other cities I’ve lived (Chicago, Boston, San Francisco), which can allow for some real innovation and creative work that will attract, challenge, and inspire audiences. I hope I’m not alone in being a young Angeleno (I’m in my early thirties) whose curiosity in the opera has been excited by this staging of the Ring. I don’t know that I’ll ever be an annual subscriber — I wish that public universities in California paid professors enough that this were possible! — but I am definitely going to attend one or two performances of the l.a. opera each season well into the future, which would not be the case if it were not for this exciting production of the Ring. Also, James Conlon’s brilliant pre-performance lectures — the envy, I’m sure, of educators everywhere — also played a big part in inspiring my new interest in learning more about the opera. His passion is infectious.
    +1

    Comment by Bert Willis — June 11, 2010 @ 9:49 am | Reply


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