Classical KUSC Blog

June 28, 2010

L.A. Ring Blog – Installment #12 “Th’ th’ That’s All, Folks!”

Filed under: Capparela's Blogarellium,LA Ring Blog — classicalkusc @ 11:48 am

Der Blog des Nibelungen

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

12. Th’ th’ That’s All, Folks! — 6/28/2010

In Los Angeles, on Saturday evening, June 26 at approximately 11 PM, the world ended again, this time for good. The L.A. Ring is now history. Director Achim Freyer’s staging, so controversial over the past two years, was given a solidly rapturous seal of approval by the audience as Freyer himself appeared on stage, some 10 minutes into the applause. This time no boos could be heard over the cheering. Having witnessed the final act of Twilight of the Gods in this production on some five occasions, it no longer stuns me as it did upon seeing it the first time. Instead, I found myself on Saturday night trying to catch all of the stagecraft. Didn’t happen. I still missed how and when the dead Gunther vanishes from the front of the stage. I still couldn’t tell the difference between live performers and mannequins floating in the air. And on and on.

The Freyer production is like a night at the Magic Castle. You can sit there, just a few feet away from the performer and that deck of cards and yet have no clue as to how and what just happened. That is theater magic and that is the legacy of the Achim Freyer Ring. Yes, it was busy to a fault. Yes the Siegfried was a buffoon, not Conan the Barbarian. Yes the dragon was just shy of four feet tall. And yes, there were objects and characters throughout that still make no obvious sense to everyone.

But it was all of a piece. Thoughtful, illuminating, provocative. And exquisitely performed by singers, orchestra and stage crew alike. The orchestra especially grew into its role. By Saturday night, like the audience, the orchestra had grown accustomed to the pace and duration requirements of Wagner’s creation. And aside from a couple of minor stage mishaps in the final scene, it all came together with a passion and cohesiveness only hinted at earlier.

Just before the performance began I visited the downstairs men’s room and found myself standing next to a bearded gentleman with a beatific smile. I decided to practice impolitic stall behavior and said to him “On behalf of many of us who waited a long time for this, I would like to thank you helping Los Angeles Opera come of age, Mr. Freyer.” He grinned, thanked me, finished his business and left the urinal. The guy on my left asked “Was that…?” “Yup,” I replied “Using the public bathroom even though he has access to more private spaces. The guy is a mensch.”

Also ending is the citywide Ring Festival. Later this week there will be a wrap party for all 100+ participating arts organizations. I’ll give you a report on that event as the final blog in this series.

By the way, at the third and final Siegfried performance on Wednesday the 23rd (a weeknight performance that ended after 11 PM) we had the biggest crowd yet for the Talk Back sessions hosted by yours truly. As had become the norm, we were still going strong at midnight when the house crew gave me the “For God’s sake, man, wrap it up!” sign. Fielding questions and moderating some pretty passionate opinions will be one of my fondest memories of this Ring experience. Thanks to all who attended and thanks to the opera company for entrusting me with its patrons.

– Rich Capparela


  1. Rich,

    Thanks for being our guide for all of us new to the Ring. I saw the ring during the regular season and the 3rd cycle. I am grateful that the LA Opera made half price tickets available. Otherwise, I could not have seen it twice. Like many I am now hooked for life. After each opera I keep saying now this is my favorite one. So I can now say that Dammerung is definitely my favorite – maybe. I may have to see the Ring one more time to decide for sure!

    I sat through your talk Wednesday night and very much enjoyed it. The time just seemed to fly by and I did get many questions answered. I do think that people are so use to being spoon-fed that they do not know to act if they have to think a little bit.

    What was the announcement at the beginning of act 3? I missed that. Also I take it from the end of Conlon’s lecture (see you in 5 years) that the next LA Ring will be in 5 years. Is that true? Seems a long time to wait.

    Finally, I agree with the LA Times article today that said those traditional “Ring heads” who decided not to attend turned into a windfall for LA fans. I was pleasantly surprised to see the number youngish fans attending both Wednesday and Saturday night. I think Freyer’s production was a huge success with the younger crowd and I was among those cheering him at the end. I hope we see this production again.

    Comment by Russell — June 28, 2010 @ 5:11 pm | Reply

  2. The announcement just before Act III was that our Hagen, Eric Halfvarson was ill, but had decided to finish his performance anyway. I could hear him clearing his throat a few times during Act II, so I wasn’t all that surprised. What a trooper.

    I was not on hand for James Conlon’s remarks on Saturday, so another Ring in 5 years is news to me. If in fact that is true, allow me to be the first to say “Yippee!” I shall explore this with my contacts at the opera company and find out if there’s more to the story than James’ hopes.

    – Rich Capparela

    Comment by classicalkusc — June 28, 2010 @ 5:46 pm | Reply

  3. This production of the Ring was a life-changing experience for me. While I was intrigued by Freyer’s vision the first time around, I “got” his sheer genius the second time around. Experiencing the four operas within a nine-day time-frame made a big difference. (One day, instead of two, between performances would have been even better.)It was like living on another planet for a week. What I can’t believe is that, in the movie capital of the world, this Ring was not filmed! How could that be?! If nothing else, it could have made a bunch of money for our cash-strapped opera company. The Met
    sure isn’t going broke by showing its performances in movie theaters…..

    Comment by Marta Vago — June 28, 2010 @ 6:10 pm | Reply

  4. I love the desription of Freyer as a mensch just beause he used the urinal. Hier bin ich Mensch, hier pinkle ich rein!!

    P.S. thank you for all the detailed and insightful description of the L.A. ring! It took the pain out of not being able to be there. And I couldn’t have described a Freyer staging better.

    Comment by Marina Sasaki — June 29, 2010 @ 1:38 am | Reply

  5. Marina, If you are the Marina Sasaki from LA who moved to Germany in 03, send me an email! I did a painting for the LA OPERA/California Art Club of a scene from Das Rheingold for the Ring Festival. Check it out on my website! It would be nice to get back in touch. All the best, Michael

    Comment by Michael Siegel — July 7, 2010 @ 6:33 pm | Reply

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