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.

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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

Freyer’s Valkyrie Is Stunning!

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

Freyer Painting at the Broad Museum (LACMA)

A watercolor by Achim Freyer, visual designer of the LA Ring cycle, hangs in the current exhibit “The Art of Two Germanys: Art in Berlin during the Cold War.”  The exhibit celebrates Berlin’s enormous pent-up, always-on-the-edge-of-violence mood during the Cold War period. Giant wall photos of anti-nuclear street protests at New York City’s Grand Central Station stand opposite gild-framed portraits of US President Ronald Reagan whose stone-wall demeanor is cordoned off with red ropes at the end of a long red Hollywood-style red carpet.

Freyer’s  contribution to the museum exhibit is a large watercolor with several strips of solid sea blue (yes, solid watercolors!).  The effect is similar to a small Rothko, an abstract expressionistic beauty based on subtle shadings of banded color, in this case the single color of light ocean blue. The title is “Seascape.”

The exhibit’s several rooms in the Broad building at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) features shocking moments too, easy reminders of Germany’s 20th-century tragedies. If you lived in Berlin during the Seventies, as this writer has, you will find much to ponder in the paintings that retrieve the memories of Rudi Dutschke, the Red Army Faction, the life of Turkish “guest workers,” etcetera. 

Included in the exhibit is a wall-size Wagner-inspired painting by the noted Anselm Kiefer. Kiefer’s mead-hall vision in “Germany’s spiritual heroes” – has a lower border that is darkened by a flame that threatens to ignite the whole wooden structure. The name “Wagner” leads the list of names that include Goethe, Mechtild of Magdeburg, et al.  Another Wagner-related painting “Brünnhilde Sleeps” by Anselm Kiefer is online at:  http://tinyurl.com/Br-nnhilde-Sleeps

More about the exhibit at: www.tinyurl.com/freyer

Filed under: Los Angeles culture, Reactions & Reviews, Related culture

YouTube video contest – Golden Ring of Festival

Another way to generate excitement for the Ring Festival  would be to go for the “golden ring” of viral pass alongs, — YouTube videos.  What if the Festival held a YouTube video contest in which people are challenged to re-enact or give their modern day interpretation of an iconic Ring scene.  Prizes could be dinner at Patina (Festival partner) or tickets to the Griffith observatory (Festival partner).

Can’t you see and hear the Ride of Valkeryre?

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

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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