Der Blog des Nibelungen
— by Rich Capparela (and Wagner friends and foes everywhere)
8. Bratwurst and Nine Noisy Sisters — 5/31/2010
Dining while attending the opera in downtown has never been easy – until now. Sunday night was the first of our three Die Walkuere performances, and the first time during the Ring that food mattered (Rheingold is a scant 2 1/2 hours; Die Walkuere runs twice that). And lo and behold, there was food. Even tables at which to sit with said food. On the Grand Street side of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion there was, I kid you not, a German Biergarten, complete with a large number of long picnic tables where one could sit alongside strangers and dine on pre- or mid-performance bratwurst. If you’ve done any travel in Germany, you know how common this seating system is.
If you’re feeling upscale, you can reserve a terrific meal during the first intermission (a blessed 45 minute break) and dessert during the second (25 minutes). It’s so elegant and civilized that you wish this was the norm, not the exception.
You also have a box meal option during the run of the Ring. Again, you need to reserve in advance. All the info is on the Los Angeles Opera Ring dining page.
It’s all so much better than stuffing one’s pockets with a half dozen power bars.
Oh yes: there was music too. And visuals. It’s been a year since we’ve been able to see Los Angeles Opera’s Die Walkuere and it has changed: a little here, a bit more there. And, as was the case with Rheingold the night before, seeing these productions with knowledge of what is to come only cements one’s opinion of Achim Freyer’s vision, for better or worse, happily, mostly for better. The sudden, exclamatory opening of Act III’s Ride of the Valkyries was so viscerally powerful that one could hear a momentary hall-wide gasp of astonishment. Sure, one also hears quibbles about the director’s abstract, sometimes whimsical concept, but the cohesiveness of his vision and his ultimate faithfulness to the vast majority of the composer’s stage directions is increasingly plain to see. You may not like blue flourescent Nothungs, but at least Siegmund first finds that mighty sword stuck in something or other and, at the right moment, the guy actually pulls that sword out of that something or other.
Speaking of the Benjamin Button of Opera: Placido Domingo’s Siegmund was — Surprise! — the highlight of the performance. How a man of 69 who, only 13 weeks ago, could undergo surgery for removal of a cancerous polyp from his colon, and then sing one of opera’s most daunting roles is a mystery I’ll just leave to Domingo, his maker and the inevitable wretched oil portrait in his attic.
– Rich Capparela
(By the way, if you are attending this coming Thursday’s Siegfried, here’s a reminder that I’ll be moderating post-performance discussions after all three Siegfrieds in the 2nd level Grand Hall. Hope to see you – and hear from you – then).