The Festival was launched with a party at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on the evening of 14 April 2010.
Here are some video clips of that launch:
- daKAH Hip Hop Orchestra played Wagner as the Rhine Maidens found a table at the party,
- a Wagner Horn call announced the beginning of the Festival,
- conductor James Conlon spoke at the launch,
- the Verdi Chorus added their voices to the party,
- leader of the Festival, Barry Sanders spoke,
- the Rhine Maidens sang the siren song,
- the food scene was lively and appealing,
The several hundred party-goers brought together art groups, civic leaders, and educators in the Los Angeles are. An auspicious beginning of the coming Festival through June 2010.
Filed under: Festival 2010, Los Angeles culture, LA Ring Festival 2010, Los Angeles Ring Festival, Ring of the Nibelung
Freyer’s Valkyrie last night was a stunner! It opened, for me, the greatness and appropriateness of this particular staging of the Ring Cycle. The performance began to gel at the end of the opening scene as Siegmund and Sieglinde move visibly closer to one other across the vast scenic ring at center stage. Previously, the performance continued with the oratorio-like withholding of physical gestures where the human body plays a minimal role in the midst of large-scale puppets, light-sabers, and magic-surreal props.
As the bodies of Siegmund and Sieglinde touched, the connection of evocatively deep emotive music came together and the magic began. The cold 21st-century distances between on-stage characters also melted at other moments, reminding us of the power of Wagner’s long, belabored, sometimes boring build-ups to a single gesture or action that then push the release button to bring the audience to tears. This magical tension-release works smoothly and hypnotically in Freyer’s glittering spectacle.
Other similar moments include the ride of the Valkyries, Wotan’s farewell to Brunnhilde, and the final Magic Fire Circle. Even those who first booed Freyer’s daring Rheingold had to rise to their feet in applause after the Magic Fire Circle shone in radiant splendor at end of the last act.
Skeptics of the LA Cycle will be fewer now that Freyer’s Valkyrie has revealed more of the full conception. Freyer has created a truly 21st-century design, building on the post-World-War-II Bayreuth productions by Wieland Wagner and – as has been pointed out by others – drawing also on Star Wars, Star Trek, and 20th-century sci-fi classics. It’s quite a wonderful cultural surprise to witness an anti-Romantic 20th-century staging that combines a 21st-century search for useable classical gestures. Add to that the sweet, warm, precise conducting of James Conlon and the amazing voice of Placido Domingo: Wow! It’s thrilling to behold.
Filed under: Los Angeles culture, Reactions & Reviews, Ring of the Nibelung
The reviews are starting to come in for Die Walkure at the LA Opera. Seems Angelinos are becoming more comfortable with the staging and enjoying the full opera experience more.
As Mark Swed LA Times Music Critic says the cries of bravo downed out the few naysayers. “ This Freyer production is not to everyone’s taste; no product of any merit, confrontational or conventional, is or should be. “
So true! However, the entertainment capital of the world deserved and expected a production that warrants conversation. I am just glad the chatter is moving away from solely being about the staging and back the production as a whole.
Filed under: Reactions & Reviews
Very excited for the second opera in the cycle.
I am hoping that this performance will generate as much hallway and dinner party conversation as Das Rheingold. We need the city abuzz about the work of Wagner and LA’s interpretation of this classic.
Filed under: Uncategorized
Since posting about “visual humor,” another visit to Achim Freyer’s Rheingold showed how alive and changing the theater performance can be when compared to recordings or DVDs.
The visual joke mentioned last week no longer appears with the same intensity this week. The circular door in the floor did not open in the new performance. The ropes seemed to pull, but the door did not lift to show the interior of the Nibelung Cave. The gestural drama that took place in the Cave with the dwarves and Mime did not happen inside the dark interior but took place directly on the stage. Was that a permanent change of performance strategy? Or was it the result of some mechanical glitch that prevented the door from opening?
The second time around showed the freshness and cogency of the staging. Having been dazzled and puzzled on first visit, the second visit allows the audience to better grasp the symbolic connection of costume and gesture to Wagnerian meaning. The staging introduces a visual reading of the Wagnerian text, adding another layer.
This new layer provokes thought without distracting from Wagnerian meaning. It refreshes the opera’s significance by creating non-realistic paintings of the themes. The result is something like a series tableaux that illuminate the text. A novel and profound experience!
Filed under: Uncategorized
The Achim Freyer production has some hilarious moments (yes, sardonic humor in a Ring production!).
My favorite visual joke is in the Subterranean Cavern where Alberich and Mime (Scene 3) are venting anger on one another, Alberich is abusing Mime, pulling him by the ear, and Mime in turn castigates his slave workers in the mines with cruel whip lashes. Mime turns toward his gang of brow-beaten miners and raises his hands several times, his hands gesturing up and down exactly like a conductor with a large orchestra. The mine dwarves are frantically making agitated gestures as if they were hacking away at bizarre musical instruments. All this pantomine is awkwardly synchronized with the actual music (the musicians in this production are completely hidden by a black cover over the orchestra pit). It’s as if the orchestra with conductor suddenly appear on-stage and make themselves present in the myth.
James Conlon probably smiles every time this scene comes around. It’s very funny once you notice it!
Filed under: Reactions & Reviews, Ring of the Nibelung, Ring of the Nibelung, visual jokes