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.
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