The City of Angels’ FIRST Ring Cycle
“Our mandate to bring Los Angeles to the top rung of the international operatic ladder is now a reality… a defining moment in the cultural history of Los Angeles.”
– Placido Domingo, LA Opera General Director on LA’s first ever RING CYCLE
The ACHIM FREYER Production
Musical Direction: JAMES CONLON
As the video clips below show, each scene of LA Opera’s spectacular, technologically cutting-edge, avant-garde production was a stunning visual feast, a triumph of a fertile adventurous imagination given free rein (or run amok?) and a testament to the artistic genius of ACHIM FREYER–painter, director and stagecraft master of the highest order. Indeed, if each scene could be framed or hung on a wall like a mural or exhibited as an installation piece, one would end up with an endless gallery of original, stand-alone art works that are alternately more enchanting, more intriguing and more surreal than a collection of Salvador Dali paintings.
Opera-goers who walked into this production found themselves either entranced or appalled by a veritable Alice-in-Wonderland carnival of colors, flashy lightshows and enchanting puppetshows in a place with no boundaries of time and geography, and at the same time intellectually challenged to a game of decipher-the-plethora-of-cleverly-staged-arcane-symbolisms. These along with the dominant (if not excessive) use of masks over human faces, out-of-this-world costumes that purposely distort proportions of body and limb. 3-d icons such as a floating disembodied eyeball definitely added to the theatrical magic and entertainment value of the production but ran the very real risk of obscuring (if not completely severing) the intense emotional and intellectual connection with the sublime music that Ring Cycle audiences often experience and look for.
As stagecraft, this production was by any artistic measure a masterpiece and a work of genius that–based on the enthused reaction of some audience members–may very well have attracted newcomers to opera who could potentially form the nuclei of a new breed of young opera-goers. But did it engulf the soaring Wagnerian voices and the resounding power of the orchestra, indeed upstage the very work of genius it was designed to incarnate? There will be as many answers as there are “Wagnerites” for years to come, with the only certainty being they will never be of one mind.
- © 2010 Gloria Cajipe / FanFaire
LINDA WATSON – Brünnhilde, VITALIJ KOWALJOW – Wotan, JOHN TRELEAVEN – Siegfried, PLACIDO DOMINGO – Siegmund, ANJA KAMPE – Sieglinde, GORDON HAWKINS – Alberich, MICHELLE DE YOUNG – Fricka, GRAHAM CLARK – Mime, STEFAN MARGITA – Loge.