Der Blog des Nibelungen
Commentary and observations on Los Angeles Opera’s production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle — by Rich Capparela (and Wagner friends and foes everywhere)
1. Prologue 4/15/2010
I suppose it was inevitable. April 15th – Tax Day – marked the official opening of Ring Festival L.A.. After all, it’s all about the gold, isn’t it? Last night at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles Opera kicked off the festival with speeches, ceremonial brass fanfare, Rhinemaidens singing one of their two greatest hits, performances by the Verdi Chorus, bratwurst and French (?!) Fries. Partners in the festival, approaching some 115 organizations, were on hand to help with the launch. When the Ring’s designer Achim Freyer was introduced to the crowd the reception was by far more uniformly favorable than what one heard in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the premiere of Götterdämmerung just over a week ago. In this crowd Achim Freyer is a rock star. His production of L.A. Opera’s Der Ring des Nibelungen (The Ring of the Nibelung) has created just a bit of buzz. In fact, there hasn’t been this much excitement in the Sou Cal arts scene since the arrival of Gustavo Dudamel to the podium of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. And that was some buzz.
And because Los Angeles’s first ever Ring is, to paraphrase a high-ranking administration offical, “A big deal,” I think we should have a place to discuss it. That is the reason for this space – Der Blog des Nibelungen (I Googled it this morning and found “0” instances of that particular text string. Really? I was the first to think of it? Okay).
In the days and weeks to come I hope to provide you with a place to vent, to question, to argue. Even with a non-controversial production, Wagner’s epic 16-hour saga provides plenty of food for thought. When it’s a production like Freyer’s, well, let the fireworks begin. Having seen all four of these productions twice each, I feel some comfort level with the director’s concept. And while it’s not the way I’d ever envisioned the Ring, I have come to hold this director’s take on the story in very high regard. And, for purely selfish reasons, I want to do what I can to help fill the hall for the upcoming three full Ring presentations. I want this Ring to be such a success that it comes back. It’s that good.
So starting with this post, I will put in my two cents and offer you your very own soap box. What do you think of what you’ve seen (or what you’ve heard from your friends or the press)? In the next installment I’ll offer you my Ring bona fides, starting back in the 60s when your humble scribe first made the acquaintance of one Mr. Wagner – and was never quite the same after. After that I’ll periodically start giving you my thoughts on this Ring. And I fully expect (and welcome) disagreement.
Meantime, there are a couple of places you need to know about. For instance, the official web site for the dazzling series of events that is Ring Festival L.A. Then of course there’s the Ring page at Los Angeles Opera.
In summary: do not be afraid. Sure it’s a committment of time, but this Ring is about as fleet as any in history. With supertitles, mercifully flexible ticketing and some of the best dang Wagnerian singing on the planet, it is not to be missed. It’s a cultural happening and it is guaranteed to lead to some very spirited discussion.
– Rich Capparela