Los Angeles Ring Festival 2010

Seminar at MSMC about the LA Ring Festival 2010

L.A. Ring Festival Launch 14 April 2010 at LACMA

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, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=32TQSy9hHT0

– a Wagner Horn call announced the beginning of the Festival, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gqL59bb1io

– conductor James Conlon spoke at the launch, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Se9xv4dF5ns

– the Verdi Chorus added their voices to the party, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9icuTwGEjE

– leader of the Festival, Barry Sanders spoke, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mu1UNKCkWM

– the Rhine Maidens sang the siren song, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNetuwPlqQQ

– the food scene was lively and appealing, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeJOO0VAc4k

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, , ,

Press Conference January 5, 2010

January is Los Angeles Arts Month, and the 2010 kick-off celebration was a press conference at the REDCAT auditorium in Disney Hall. Much of the press conference touched on the LA Ring Cycle, and over 100 cultural Ring partners were represented. My Flip camera caught all 45 minutes of the gathering and some of the clips are now on YouTube:

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa spoke about the relationship of the arts community and the City of Los Angeles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fH4LO-GFtM0

Barry Sanders, leader of the Ring Festival and one of the posters on this blog, spoke about the Festival: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXcxzOUaZJk

And here’s the official logo of the Festival:

Logo for the LA Ring Festival

Logo for the LA Ring Festival

Filed under: Festival 2010, Los Angeles culture, Related culture, Ring of the Nibelung

Two Seminars on the “Two Rings”

Two seminars are now open for enrollment:

– a 2-day seminar on June 11 & 12, 2010 open to the general public via ticket sales
– a 4-month graduate seminar from January to April in the 2010 Masters in Humanities program at Mount St. Mary’s College

Both seminars take place on the Doheny campus (downtown Los Angeles). Both seminars are called “Two Rings: Wagner & Tolkien.” The June 2010 seminar is a compressed version of the 4-month graduate seminar.

Here is the downloadable syllabus for the 4-month graduate seminar. Information on admission to the graduate program is here. This graduate seminar meets all-day on six Saturdays from January to May and focuses on the myth and imagery of the Ring in the epics of Tolkien and Wagner, in Norse sagas and 20th-century fantasy.

The 2-day seminar is on June 11 & 12, 2010 (9 am – 4 pm) and welcomes all opera and fantasy fans who wish to discuss the Two Rings. The college campus will host the lectures and discussions in the historic gardens of the Doheny campus in downtown LA. Sign-up for the June 2010 seminar does NOT require admission to the Masters Program but is open to members of the general public who have purchased tickets. Information and tickets (Paypal) for the 2-day workshop / seminar is at: http://www.msmc.la.edu/ringseminars

For more information on either or both seminars, email Dr. Mike Heim: mheim@msmc.la.edu or mike*at*mheim.com

Filed under: Festival 2010, ideas for celebrating the Festival, Lord of the Rings, Los Angeles culture, Related culture, Ring of the Nibelung

“Star Wars” Ring?

Here’s why the LA Opera Ring is being called the “Star Wars Ring.”

Valkyries with Light Sabers

These are the Valkyries with their Light Sabers. This still shot conveys the idea, but to get a fuller visual impression, you can view the video clip on YouTube.  Only in the theater, however, with live action and motion do you get the full impact of this performance.  Think of sparklers in the dark. 

Note the “dead bodies” like mummies at the feet of the Valkyries. These are the fallen warriors who are chosen on the battlefield to become heroes sung and celebrated in the halls of Valhalla. (Implied comment on contemporary heroism?) The “bicycles” are the horses ridden by the Valkyries. These bikes later become the torches spinning around Brunnhilde when Wotan condemns her to the protection of the Magic Fire Circle. Red electric lights are mounted on top of each bike as the bikes turn each on their own axis.

And there in the center is Wotan in one of his incarnations, pulling the Valkyries on ribbon strings. Sometimes Wotan will appear on the stage in several simultaneous incarnations. This particular incarnation has Wotan wearing a floppy-brim hat, the Wanderer’s Hat that usually adorns him at the beginning of the opera Siegfried during the Riddle Contest with Mime. Here the lack of a head enhances the mysterious quality of Wotan the Wanderer as his power and purpose diminish and he gradually gives way to inevitable failure and the growing Twilight of the Gods.

Filed under: Festival 2010, Reactions & Reviews, Related culture, Ring of the Nibelung

First Look at Rheingold

Yesterday evening, the LA Opera production of Das Rheingold was resplendent, vivid, and highly visual.

For people with previous Ring experience, this Rheingold adds a new dimension. The production is visually arresting! Your eyes are challenged to process the stage events much as the Wagnerian music and complex archetypal drama challenges your ears and brain process.

The Brechtian “alienation effect” controls all the staging: the audience is supposed to think and understand rather than react by emotionally identifying with the illusory characters on stage .  The initial weirdness of the staging subsides as the metaphors emerge: Wotan’s spear is a shaft of light; Fasolt & Fafner wield large lenses to reflect their magnitude; Loge’s multiple puppet arms reveal his sleight-of-hand skills; Froh and Donner whimsically float in the air. The colors and lights shift constantly within each scene and stimulate the eyes. Contrasts of scale continually surprise, and the audience comes to follow the human-size walking Wotan as an extension of the giant floating Wotan hovering over a side of the stage.

Achim Freyer makes the point like no other production: Loge is the Devil, Goethe‘s Mephistophiles who uses clever logic to tempt Faust. Freyer places Loge at the center of Rheingold and gives him the costume that leaves no doubt about his identity.


Filed under: Festival 2010, Reactions & Reviews, Ring of the Nibelung

First Reviews are Coming In . . .

Well, here’s the link to Mark Swed’s review in the LA Times. Many of the comments posted in response to his review are not in agreement with Swed. There’s quite a strong – not favorable – reaction to the production. 

Here’s the link to the review.  Go down below for the comments. Quite strong reactions!

There’s also a gallery of photos from the production that give you an idea of what the commentators are talking about.

Filed under: Festival 2010, Los Angeles culture, Reactions & Reviews

Brainstorming for Festival ideas….

One of my favorite ideas comes from Brenda, who in a recent brainstorming session wrote: 

Sidewalk Opera – Street performances of signature scenes with characters in full costumes singing to passer-bys with signage and handouts about The Ring. Street team performances intersecting with people as they go about their weekend shopping/walking/life will surprise and delight the viewer. By exposing Angelinos to 5-minute segments of the Opera, the Festival will create awareness and word-of-mouth buzz. How many people can say that the saw a little live opera today? (Such street performances have also worked very successfully in Las Vegas and other tourist destinations) to drive visitors to sign up on the spot for shows. ) Venues should be chosen that have high concentrations of people who if enticed would be likely to go to the opera. Locations could include: The park at Century City, Montana Blvd, Sunset Strip, LA Live, The Grove, Glendale Americana 

Filed under: Festival 2010, ideas for celebrating the Festival, Los Angeles culture

Festival Begins

Ring Festival Plans 2010 Party for Los Angeles

Yesterday evening, February 18th 2009, on the 21st floor of a skyscraper at 811 Wilshire Boulevard, the Los Angeles Ring Festival was launched. Representatives from 50 cultural institutions listened to Barry Sanders, Festival leader, describe the Festival plan that begins with the first performance of the Ring of the Nibelung at the L.A. Opera this week and that culminates in a party for the city of Los Angeles in the spring of 2010. A celebration of the imagination, he said, can bring our city through difficult times not only with opera but also with many local projects and exhibits that will celebrate the Ring myth. The event was hosted by Los Angeles Magazine. 

Filed under: Festival 2010, Los Angeles culture

A blog about the L.A. Ring Festival 2010

Welcome to our blog about the Los Angeles Ring Festival 2010! We are a group based in L.A. who are studying the Ring of the Nibelung operas and looking at the significance of the Ring Festival 2010 for our community. Our blog originated with the “Two Rings” seminar in the Masters Degree Program in the Humanities at Mount St. Mary’s College led by Dr. Mike Heim.  The seminar began in 2007 and continues through 2009, with a Festival version planned for the summer of 2010. The Two Rings seminar focuses on the themes of fellowship and power relationships in both Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien) and Ring of the Nibelung (Richard Wagner). Mount St. Mary’s College is one of 50 cultural partners involved in the Los Angeles Ring Festival.

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