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Oh, how we danced on the night we were webbed

Diamonds_are_foreverLots of media news today, so let’s not waste any time! La Cieca congratulates Opera News on the occasion of the mag’s 75th anniversary this month, though your doyenne is willing to swear that the mag doesn’t look a day over 60! 

But, after all, the old girl can afford the very best in Park Avenue cosmetic surgery, so La Cieca w’ll just say “you look marvelous, really,” before moving on to the real news here (and you know when there’s real news in Opera News, that is real news), which is the debut of Our Own Daniel Stephen Johnson in those venerable pages. But it gets better!

“The Times is still the Times, and Opera News is still Opera News,” says Ecclesiastes Zachary Woolfe, interviewed by Dan (who also, wonder of wonders, chats with none other than JJ) in “Net Effects,” an all-too-brief analysis of how “the Internet is changing the way we read about opera.”  La Cieca is gratified to note that our humble little cum-blog is mentioned in passing, in what is perhaps the most insidery bit of writing to be seen in the pages of Opera News since their cover story about Brian Kellow‘s annual tea dance on the anniverary of Dolores Gray‘s death.

As is their custom when publishing articles about online journalism, Opera News has not made this piece available online (yes, they are indeed 75 years old), so I guess, cher public, you’ll have to wait for your dead-tree version to arrive in the mail.

In the words of the prophet Zack, yes, indeed, the Times is very much still the Times, and La Cieca will further note that Dan Wakin is still out there beating the mean streets until the Met’s press office is ready to spoonfeed him his latest story. We get the 14th in a 200 part series about the Robert Lepage Ring in the New York Times today, this time with a slideshow of Rheingold images “from the first dress rehearsal” (presumably one that Bryn Terfel was in town for).

Now, of course, you can’t judge a production from the photographs, and all that (if nothing else, the Regie quiz teaches us this universal truth) and yet… These are images produced with the very close assistance of the Met, for what amounts to a puff preliminary for the company’s flagship production of the season, so maybe just a little close reading (or in this case, close viewing) might be in order?

Purely as observed as the selection of still photos published by the Times, this show looks to La Cieca a little plain, rather small, and (this is the worst of it) altogether tame.  Depending on how the “machine” is lit, sometimes it looks like a rather nice deck on a Hamptons share house, and other times it looks like the facade of a Soviet-era office block.

With the lights all lit and the thing moving, probably it’s a whole different experience, but the Met and the Times gave us still photos, so that’s what we have to react to at the moment—and react you will, I trust, cher public, to the images as well as to such ominous paragraphs as

The greater worry is that something— a prop, a wig or a limb — might get in the way of the slowly moving platform. Emergency stop buttons have been installed, and a rigging and safety adviser who often works with Cirque du Soleil was hired. An army of stagehands will guide the singers and acrobats in their movements about the set.

To La Cieca, and you know she has a best a gutter sort of imagination, this all sounds just too Stephen King for words. (“Having at last tasted human blood, the set was at last still, releasing only the faint sound that might have been a sigh.”)


  • 1
    Camille says:

    Was ist das, por favor!????

  • 2
    MonkeyBoy says:

    I would respectfully disagree with La Cieca. M. LePage’s production for Damnation was full of striking images, and I am hopeful that the Ring is no exception. If you think back to the Faust set, it certainly was nothing special to look at, but the projected images and movement of the singers, supers, acrobats, etc. brought it to life.

    The one point I will concede is the size of the set. It does not seem grand enough for the material it’s portraying.

    Having seen the LOC Ring, this looks light years ahead of that production. Bien sur, stage technology has advanced exponentially since the early, mid-ninties. I am waiting with baited breath for October 9th….

  • 3
    OpinionatedNeophyte says:

    My only gripe is with the muted and limited range of colors we saw on display. Perhaps the rainbow bridge will be all the more stunning in comparison.

  • 4

    I like what I see. Of all the concept ring pictures I have seen (never having seen the ring in either format) these are by far the most interesting. I can not wait…

  • 5
    Melot's Younger Brother says:

    I still don’t understand why reinforcement was necessary. Jane Eaglen stood on this same stage, did she not?

  • 6
    dallasuapace says:

    Thanks for the news. I no longer subscribe to any dead-tree magazines.

    • 6.1
      OpinionatedNeophyte says:

      Yes because CNN/MSNBC/Fox have such in depth coverage of the arts. Ugh.

      • 6.1.1
        Indiana Loiterer III says:

        My guess is that dallasuapace gets arts coverage from the internet--including the sites of the very few dead-tree magazines which pay any attention to the performing arts at all.

          OpinionatedNeophyte says:

          And like so many Americans who only rely on blogs dallasuapace probably doesn’t pay attention to the percentage of blog reporting that relies upon “dead tree” sources as the launching point for their posts. And I say this as a big blog fan, but you can’t have one without the other. And the websites of the NYT or Washington Post do not bring in revenue, they are supported by revenue brought in by the print versions. Or are we just pretending to not notice that we don’t pay for the online new york times. Whatever, I know its a losing battle its just ridiculous to see people boldly declare they’ve moved beyond print news even though arts sections are always the first to be cut when these papers start to lose readership.

  • 7
    Harold says:

    Here’s a link to download a pdf of the current Daniel Stephen Johnson article in Opera News “Net Effects: How the internet is changing the way we read about opera.” is featured, as is Opera Chic, and Zachary Wolf at the New York Observer.

  • 8
    Signor Bruschino says:

    i’m most intrigued by this little discovery (not really given much journalistic investigation) in the article… and i quote:

    “Mr. Lepage introduced these sorts of effects two seasons ago in a production of Berlioz’s “Damnation de Faust.” Holger Förterer wrote the software that runs the interactive elements and also created a system for the “Ring.” But in a setback for Mr. Lepage and company, Mr. Förterer suffered a breakdown and withdrew in May, Mr. Gilbert said. Mr. Förterer did not respond to an e-mail.”

    Will we get a friday evening news dump explaining this rather odd tid bit?

  • 9
    Will says:

    I liked what I saw very much, particularly the descent into Niebelheim. Nature seems to be present where required and the playing area is rather shallow with the scenic units acting not only as acting surfaces but also as sounding boards for the singers — a VERY savvy move.

    I suspect that the intimacy resulting from this configuration indicates that character work and the relationship between/among characters are going to be emphasized, which I also think is a good idea. As others here have said, I’m looking forward to this Ring very much indeed as I also was impressed by the technical and imagery components of The Damnation of Faust production.

    • 9.1
      PokeyGascon says:

      I am encouraged by Lepage’s comments about most of the singing taking place on a narrow apron at the front of the stage. I was worried the singers would get lost in the “machine” but it sounds like this will not be the case. Let the countdown begin!

      • 9.1.1
        Harry says:

        Lost in the ‘machine’? It would give new meaning to the words: “Well so & so’s voice …last night sounded a trifle distressed and rather squeezed, come to think of it”

    • 9.2
      Harry says:

      The Le Page concertina stage contraption looks like it was inspired by that hilarious randy pleasure machine in Jane Fonda’s old 1971 film of Barbarella. Everything old appears new again. To be innovative ,you just needs people to forget the past.

  • 10
    pavel says:

    From the caption for slide #3:

    and Lisette Oropesa and Tamara Mumford as the two other Rhinemaidens.

    I guess I have to read the whole article to find out who the first Rhinemaiden is…

    • 10.1
      La Cieca says:

      No matter which Rhinemaiden you’re talking about, the other two are always “the other two.”

    • 10.2
      Byrnham Woode says:

      The article begins with a description of some difficulties getting singer Jennifer Johnson down to stage level (she’s in her flying rig). Clearly, she is the other Rhinemaiden. Oropesa and Mumford sang their roles in the last RING revival, Johnson is new.

  • 11
    papopera says:

    It does look spectacular

    • 11.1
      DonCarloFanatic says:

      It looks so interesting I am considering buying a ticket to the HD encore as well as the original live simulcast. I can never get too much Rheingold.

      On another topic altogether, does anyone know why Irene Theorin has withdrawn from her performances in the Washington National Opera’s Ballo? I was looking forward to seeing her and now don’t know whether Tamara Wilson or Susan Neves is the better choice.

      • 11.1.1
        CL in DC says:

        DonCarlo --

        Not sure if you’ve made it to WNO’s Ballo yet, but I would reccommend Tamara Wilson over Susan Neves. Not sure why Theorin withdrew..I think they just said “indisposed.” I was really looking forward to hearing her Amelia as well.

  • 12
    Donna Carlo says:

    Breaking news item from my just-arrived, dead-tree version of the New Yorker:

    Of this season’s Don Carlo: “…Yannick Nézet-Séguin…conducts a cast led by by the formidable veteran Ferruccio Furlanetto, in the title role.”

    I suppose that the same old Parterrean farts who winced at Domingo’s fach shift, will drop their teaspoons when they read this one, but I’m just awed by FF’s new career move. Demented and thrilling and, yes, operatic. And yes, a must-see, must-hear. No?

    • 12.1
      Hans Lick says:

      Donna —

      LAST week the New Yorker mis-quoted the Bible (the book of Genesis no less), which USED to be central to western culture and education, not to mention the hotel profession. So I’m not surprised.

      • 12.1.1
        Donna Carlo says:

        Hell, Hans, the New Yorker used to be central to western culture and and education. So do great civilizations begin to crumble, laying off copy editors.

    • 12.2
      m. croche says:

      I can’t remember his name, but there’s someone who is presumably beneath A. Ross who pens many of those event squibs and occasionally contributes a few horrible paragraphs of his own on another subject. I remember reading something he penned once on Haydn and vowed afterwards to never do so again. Anyway, he seems like just the type to transform Furlanetto.

    • 12.3
      Uninvolved Bystander says:

      Now I know the world has truly gone to hell when the vaunted New Yorker fact-checking department allows these easily checked errors to go through.

  • 13
    Noel Dahling says:

    Dear Stephanie Blythe: Honey, you really should shoot whoever designed that costume.

  • 14