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  • laddie: So agree with you! 5:11 PM
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  • rapt: Thanks for that note, WCO–it didn’t even OCCUR to me! At my age, I need all the help I can... 4:17 PM

How sharper than a serpent’s tooth

“The Met’s new Ring is the most frustrating opera production I have ever had to grapple with. The machine represents a breakthrough in stage technology…. [b]ut on balance the effects achieved are not worth the distractions they create.” That’s the sound of Anthony Tommasini pounding the nail into the coffin in the New York Times. (Photo: Ken Howard)

70 comments

  • baumgaje says:

    Well, I for one enjoyed the ring. Yes, it is true that I am young, and have not seen 100+ productions of the cycle like some sister Parteriennes, however I believe that an average opera-goer can have an opinion that isn’t just as valid as anyone else. I have trouble reading so many comments that detest this production and it’s vision, yet read so many glorifying reviews on “eurotrash” productions in which the director has taken some (often ridiculous) concept and manages to mold the entire opera around it. At least in the case of Lepage it is still quite obvious what is happening at all times. I also believe that opera must go somewhere, and continue to develop, thus attracting new audiences. With all the technology that is available it would be utterly ignorant not to somehow integrate it into the artform, and that is just what Robert Lepage has done. If we cowered at the idea of making mistakes in order to make great advances, where would we be today as a civilization? Sure the machine messed up a bit, and the projections were sometimes off, but without ever trying, how would we know just what we are capable of doing with opera in the 21st century. I applaude Robert Lepages artistic vision and courageous efforts with this ring cycle. I hope fellow readers, regardless of their feelings on this particular production can at least see what Mr. Lepage has done for our beloved art form. And furthermore, it is wonderful that there are those of us who would go see opera if it was simply great singers, standing onstage singing great music with no costumes, scenery or technology to distract our attention, however, that doesn’t appeal to the general audience. For there to be opera, there must be money and that (at least 40%) comes from selling tickets.

    • baumgaje says:

      Woops- *IS just as valid….

    • Clita del Toro says:

      Robert Lepage’s “artistic vision” or should I say his lack of one is the problem, leaving aside the creaking Machine or faulty projections.
      Just from a purely visual point of view, I think the production exhibits a tacky, Disney-like, garish, over-literal, unimaginative look that is a turn off. So what , there are a few gorgeous images or effects such as when Wotan (Wanderer) touches the water in Siegfried. But you can get there from any 3-D movie these days.

      That production leaves nothing to the imagination is a biggest problem for me. Look at Wilson’s gorgeous Pelleas et Melisande production for its antipode.

      As to the direction, nothing interesting, nothing new, nothing much happens.
      The costumes, imo are just plain tacky more fit for a 3-D animated movie.

      “Courageous” is not the word for the Lepage; unenlightened, uninformed are better ones.

      • Clita del Toro says:

        baumgaje PS Don’t get the idea that I am not against using any or all of the latest technologies for an opera production. It’s the vision of the designer and director that counts, not the technology used to bring the vision to life. If their vision is misguided, no amount of “exciting”special effects will help.

      • La Valkyrietta says:

        CdT,

        Yes, no “artistic vision”. I thought of that when reading this Picasso quote: “Art is the elimination of the unnecessary.” How redundant this production is! Not a single element of it has added to the understanding, clarification or enjoyment of the masterpiece the Ring is, but added unnecessary distractions from it.

        Still, I loved being at Götter to hear the music live. Hagen and the vassals did justice to Wagner. I look forward to Saturday for the music and the singers, pity that again I must suffer what you have rightly characterized as an unimaginative, uninteresting, unenlightened and uninformed production.

    • louannd says:

      Dear Sir/Madam:

      I highly suggest your peruse the following thread from awhile back so that you may understand a little more of what potential a Ring cycle could be. Also very entertaining: http://parterre.com/?s=B%C3%BChnenweihfestspielkrieg&submit=

  • PokeyGascon says:

    I, too enjoyed the Ring (on HD), but I agree with many of the criticisms. It is a disappointment because it could have been so much better. The HD audience seemed to enjoy it for the most part, so much so that many I know are planning to see at least some of the cycle again when it repeats in May. I brought 4 opera newbies to Manon earlier this month and the clips they saw for the Ring got them very excited. There became less excited when they realized the time commitment involved. I plan to attend the encores that fit into my schedule. I would, given the opportunity, like to see the complete cycle in the house. Perhaps in the spring of 2013 my circumstances will allow this, although there are so many other Rings next year, it might be more fun to see something different.

    Sirius is broadcasting the complete cycle 2 starting tonight.

  • parpignol says:

    nevertheless I’m excited about Ring Cycle 2, starting tonight; is it possible that with Dalayman, Terfel, Kaufmann, Owens, Blythe and others, this has the best cast of any Met Ring Cycle since the early 1990s? let’s say: since Gwyneth Jones sang Brunnhilde in 1993 (opposite Wolfgang Schmidt!)

  • Clita del Toro says:

    I am listening to wonderful Rusalka from 1993 with Benackova and Heppner, but all I see (in my mind) is the fabulous Herheim production. E strano.

  • DonCarloFanatic says:

    I would like to have been wowed by a spectacular Ring. You’d think with all the money they spent they could have come up with something consistently visually arresting, with a machine that worked without looking pathetic or sounding worse. But no. This Ring design stinks. Count the millions of dollars spent. We should see those millions in every scene. We don’t. We see lame. When I see the intermission shots of the stagehands moving the machine planks by hand, I wonder how anyone even dare call it a machine since it clearly cannot move on its own. And it’s got visible handles, too. Talk about breaking the fourth wall.

    The sad part is, if Lepage had pulled it off, millions of non-opera people would have been attracted to the spectacle of this Ring, and some would have stayed to enjoy the magic of Wagner’s music.

  • La Cieca says:

    Some of the Met’s HD of Gotterdammerung has sneaked onto YouTube. Enjoy it now, before it’s taken down!

    • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

      Who knew that Joan Davis was such a diva ! “Meine Liebe ist Gruen” auch dazu.
      Fabelhaft.

    • Camille says:

      I LOVED “I Married Joam”!!!!!!!

      Haven’t seen it for a coon’s age!
      Thank you so much, Cieca gal!

      • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

        I wonder who did the singing voice for Joan. It would be a hoot if it was Lotte Lehmann who was in California in those days. Maybe it’s in the credits of the full (nearly 26 minute) program, is here:

        • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

          sorry, initially the previously embessed clip was only an excerpt, but the whole show is there.

          • Camille says:

            No vocal credits given other than the Roger Wagner Chorale. It’s true that Lottchen did want to break into Hollywood. Listening very carefully, I don’t think there were enough of her vocal characteristics for it have been Lehmann.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    I bet Marylin Horne would know, but I have a feeling it was someone important.

  • Camille says:

    God knows why……..just now I got curious sbout our pld frirnd Unfaithful Zerbinetta, who faithfully reported to us from Vienna, Bayreuth and all points Deutsch. This clever young lady has solved the problem for all of us less than Perfect Wagnerites—in hommage to LePage, she has made up a handy dandy MOTIF CHART which is made available to all those interested in downloading it, in PDF form. How about that for ingenuity! Brava Zerbinettachen!

    So now you need no longer be confused by Wagner NOR be one of those ugly score totin’ people, like MOI!

    Her website, to the left, is http://www.LikelyImpossibilities.com.

  • parpignol says:

    and yet, and yet, after Rheingold last night, I have to wonder: is this production really so extremely disappointing as the Times and New Yorker have now concluded; certainly it’s not brilliant, won’t change the way you think about Wagner, or leave you with any major intellectual insight afterwards. . . . but there are a few striking stage images, and an otherwise fairly innocuously abstract set that carries out the scene changes as required; costumes are pretty bad, stage direction rather flat, and the machine still sometimes makes untoward noises (last night during the prelude), but it sort of does the job, and, I have to say, looks better from the relative distance of the family circle than from other closer vantage points I’ve tried over the last two years; as a production: isn’t it actually better (certainly no worse) than the new productions this season of Faust, Manon, Don Giovanni, and Anna Bolena?

    • Clita del Toro says:

      Parpignol, yeah, do you want us to be satisfied with “mediocre” because the is totally what you are describing? Millions for Mediocrity? OY!

      • parpignol says:

        obviously, brilliance would be preferable to mediocrity, but there is also the question of whether this production, not brilliant (as the Schenk production was also not brilliant), could be simply serviceable for performing the fabulously brilliant music drama. . .

  • Baritenor says:

    For those of you who were at Rheingold last night or heard the Broadcast, how was Adam Klein’s Loge? He went on for Stefan Margita.

    • parpignol says:

      Klein started off a little shaky, but found his groove, and gave quite a nice performance, vocally and dramatically, not as high-pitched a tenor voice as one sometimes hears as Loge, but not whining or ingratiating either, sung perhaps more directly than usual, with understated dramatic irony as he contemptuously watched the gods enter into their hollow Valhalla at the end. . .