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Peter Gelb says the Ring will definitely not return, as originally planned, in 2017, and where has La Cieca heard that before? [New York Times]

100 comments

  • Don_Dano says:

    Is there also a problem with the MET’s scheduling of the four operas. This August, I’ll see the Ring over six nights in Seattle which is the same as it was in San Francisco a few years ago. Maybe, I didn’t look at the MET’ schedule closely enough, but I seem to recall thinking the Ring Cycles (other than the matinee Cycle of course), had extra off-nights. In other words, I’d have needed more than six nights to see the entire MET Ring Cycle this year.

    • justanothertenor says:

      I’m also going to Seattle. Which cycle are you attending?

      • reedroom says:

        Any Parterriani coming to the Seattle Ring please come to the orchestra rail and say hello! I will be playing all three cycles (2nd bassoon this year).

      • Don_Dano says:

        Cycle 1. I’ve never been to Seattle so last weekend, I bought a tour book to start to figure out what to do with my days.

        • pasavant says:

          I am going to the first cycle in Seattle. Is there anything to see there besides the fish market?

          • peter says:

            Spoken like a true New Yorker.

          • m. croche says:

            Seattle and its environs are effin’ gorgeous. But if it’s urban culture that you’re interested in, check out the Experience Music Project. There’s also the Cthulhu Chihuly Museum, if you enjoy brightly-colored tentacles.

          • irontongue says:

            Art Museum. Science Museum (on the fairgrounds walking distance from the opera house). Boeing Museum of Flight.

          • CruzSF says:

            The Underground City tour is interesting and fun, too. Might be overpriced at this point, but you’ll be able to see odd things from the frontier days.

          • oedipe says:

            I would back the Dale Chihuly Glass Garden recommendation, he is a unique and spectacular artist.

          • Buster says:

            The Public Library.

          • bluecabochon says:

            Take the ferry to Bainbridge Island. Beautiful place, and the ride is glorious, if windy.

        • derschatzgabber says:

          As m.croche says, the Northwest scenery is gorgeous. August is usually the best month of the year for weather -- blue skies and temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s. I recommend getting out on the water for a view of Seattle and (if you are lucky) Mt. Rainier. You can take one of the State ferries across Puget Sound or a harbor tour. My favorite harbor tour includes a trip through the Ballard locks, which connect Puget Sound to Lake Union.

          The Pike Street Market is much more touristy than it was during my childhood in Seattle, but it is still much better than Fishermens’ Wharf in San Francisco (my current home). I won’t take visitors to the wharf, but I will take friends to the Pike Market. There are still vendors of local produce and seafood, mostly at the southern end of the market. The northern end is mostly given over to tourist trinkets and local artists. The seafood stall that features young men tossing whole salmon to each other is a bit hokey, but some of those young men are very easy on the eye.

          If you are used to museums in New York, San Francisco, and LA, then you probably can skip the downtown Seattle Art Museum. If you like Asian Art, then it’s probably worth your time to visit the Asian collection in the Seattle Art Museum’s original building, located in Volunteer Park. Volunteer Park is on Capitol Hill, where most of the gay bars are located.

          If you are interested in Northwest Native American culture, visit the Burke Museum on the campus of the University of Washington.

          If you are interested in Seattle history, the Museum of History and Industry has a new home on the south shore of Lake Union. It’s accessible from downtown by trolley.

          I also like the Museum of Flight (commonly referred to as the Boeing Museum). It’s located at Boeing Field, the airport between Sea Tac and downtown. The collection includes a Boeing 707 that served as Air Force One during Kennedy’s time in office.

          On the days after Walkure or Siegfried, you can also take a high speed boat trip to Victoria on Vancouver Island. Trips leave early in the morning. You get 4 or 5 hours in Victoria before the trip home in the evening.

          If you are in Seattle on a Sunday evening, St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral on Capitol Hill has compline service (I think at 9:30 pm -- you can google the Cathedral’s website). The half-hour service features a small all male choir that usually sings sacred music from the Renaissance. I am not religious, but I enjoy the service as music. Most Sunday evenings, the service is followed by an organ recital.

          P.S. I will also be attending the first cycle.

          • Bianca Castafiore says:

            When I visited Victoria, BC, I enjoyed it very much. It’s a very pretty place, but on Friday and Sat. nights, the place was overrun by American college brats taking the ferry to party (since the drinking age in Canada is lower). Have not been to Seattle yet, only Vancouver and Portland.

          • Batty Masetto says:

            Hey, I love those guys flinging those giant fish around! But that’s ‘cuz I got no taste.

            Several years ago we enjoyed the aquarium too, though it wasn’t a patch on the wonder of the world(TM) in Monterey.

            Good food city too, as long as you look in the right places. Things change fast though -- all my favorite places from my previous visit were gone when we went back a year ago.

          • pasavant says:

            Thanks for the info.

        • derschatzgabber says:

          P.S. I also recommend the downtown public library.

          It was designed by Rem Koolhass. Try to take a docent tour to learn about the many unique features of its design.

          http://www.spl.org/locations/central-library/cen-about-the-central-library

        • DonCarloFanatic says:

          There are all those Ring symposia during the days, too. I found them very illuminating during the San Francisco Ring. There’s even a backstage tour.

        • justanothertenor says:

          I’ll also be at Cycle I!

    • Bianca Castafiore says:

      Is a Ring over 6 nights real tough on the orchestra, performers and audience?

      The Ring at the Met just offered now was over 8 nights — at least cycle 2 was, which I attended. It went from Thursday to Thursday.

      • derschatzgabber says:

        A ring over 6 nights is the way Wagner did it at the first Bayreuth Festivals. And I am pretty sure it’s still the way Bayreuth presents the Ring. I can’t speak from the perspective of performers or the orchestra, but I think it’s the best arrangement for the audience. It keeps the momentum of the story going better.

        • reedroom says:

          Bianca: Though the operas are quite taxing for the orchestra (remember that unlike the singers, we play every note from start to finish), the performance weeks are not bad--4 performances over a 6 day stretch is doable--not that I’d presume to speak for my string-playing colleagues--they really get punished! But if you aren’t doing much else that week, there is plenty of time to recover.

          The rehearsals on the other hand, when we have seven or eight services per week, THAT’S tough.

          • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

            I often wonder how string players don’t walk out of the opera house with their right hands moving in fast spasms from left to right after playing 6 hours of tremolandi, tricky tuplets, and sweeping apeggio figurations. Except for the anvils, it must be exhausting to play the Ring.

        • La Cieca says:

          Actually, the first Ring was done in a five-day span: August 13, 14, 16, and 17, 1876.

          The 1951 Ring at the first postwar Festival also followed a five-day schedule, though with the dark night inserted differently: July 31, August 1, 2, and 4.

          http://www.bayreuther-festspiele.de/fsdb_en/spielplan/1951/index.htm

          Bayreuth switched to a six-day Ring with the premiere of Wieland Wagner’s 1965 production. In her autobiography, Birgit Nilsson takes credit for convincing Wieland to try this innovation.

          An eight-day Ring is pretty idiotic unless you have some absolutely phenomenal programming on the “dark” nights, and it’s fair to say that the Met’s repertoire this past spring didn’t rise to that level. I still wonder who that stretched-out schedule was for. Terfel? Voigt? Levine?

          • derschatzgabber says:

            Wow! Somehow I have always missed that the first Rings were done in 5 days, That just seems cruel to whoever is singing Siegfried and to the orchestra (Although Rheingold and Walkure on consecutive days must be rough on the singer playing Wotan).

            The last time Lotfi Mansouri presented the Ring in SF, he managed to stage 4 cycles in about 3 weeks, by overlapping the cycles. Rheingold 1,Walkure 1, Rheingold 2, Siegfried 1, Walkure 2, etc. on consecutive nights. It was insane. I have never heard so many bloopers from the brass section of the SF Opera orchestra. I don’t blame the musicians. In the name of penny pinching they were asked to do the impossible.

          • Hoffmann says:

            One of the many reasons I am not going to Opera Australia’s Ring in Melbourne this year in November/December is because it is over 10 DAYS!!!!! Besides the fact that it was more expensive than seeing the Ring at the Met and that there are parts of the Ring that really don’t interest me…

          • DharmaBray says:

            Hoffmann, agree about the ludicrous length visitors are made to stay in Melbourne. It’s what comes of funding from government tourism agencies and attempts to increase visitor spending on accom.etc.

      • marshiemarkII says:

        Schatzie and Bianchissssssima, 6 days, exactly as Bayreuth is how it was done at the Met for the first time ever in 1989,and then 1990 and 1997. Don’t know if other years, but certainly in those, yes at the huge Met!

        • derschatzgabber says:

          In my experience, all of the Seattle, San Francisco, and LA Rings have been done in 6 days. It’s surprising that the MET didn’t do a 6 day Ring until 1989. Does anyone know how many days Anton Seidl’s Rings were spread over when the MET first did the Ring?

          • Krunoslav says:

            Varying lengths- first time 8 days, second seven days, third in Philly — *4* days!

            Das Rheingold {10} Ring Cycle [3]
            Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 03/26/1889

            Die Walk?re {32} Ring Cycle [3]
            Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 03/27/1889

            Siegfried {18} Ring Cycle [3]
            Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 03/28/1889

            G?tterd?mmerung {12} Ring Cycle [3]
            Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 03/29/1889

            Emil Fischer sang all 4 nights: Wotan/Wanderer/Hagen!

            Lilli Lehmann sang Sieglinde opposite her husband Paul Kallsisch and the SIEGFRIED and GOETTEDAEMMERUNG Brunis. The WALKUERE one was a debutant I’ve never heard of, Anna Marie Bauman-Triloff ( she only sang one more Met performance) . Max Alvary sang Loge and the 2 Siegfrieds. Sophie Traubmann also sang every night: Woglinde/Helmwige/Woodbird/Woginde.

            The company’s 5th RING was in Boston and in that 4 day span (4/9-12/1889) Lilli Lehmann sang all the Brunis (with Felicie Kaschowska as Sieglinde, plus both Wellgundes) --though in those days they cut the Bruni/Waltraute scene!!!

            The Met’s first uncut RING (1899) took 13 days! Marie Brema sang the RHENGOLD Fricka and the WALKUERE Bruni; Lehmann the subsequent Brunis.

            The first Met 6 day cycle with just one Bruni was in Chicago in 1902, with Milka Ternina. Johanna Gadski did it again in 1909. So Hildegard Behrens had two predecessors in this regard.

            Thereafter, until the Schenk RING, the cycles were more spread out, probably for reasons connected to subscribers’ demands and radio schedules.

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Very interesting history Krunissssimo! Question what does it mean “Met in Chicago” does that mean Met on Tour? and did Gadski also did it in Chicago in 1909. It’s an interesting history so I won’t make the same broad assertion, although if it was not “in house” it might not qualify :-)
            I just remember Charlie Riecker (and Francis Robinson at a party at Lennhoff’s boyfriend’s restaurant on 63rd st, Bruno’s I think it was called?)) saying back in 1989, “first time ever at the Met”

          • Krunoslav says:

            Ternina’s feat was with the Met on tour in Chicago; but Gadski’s was indeed in NY at the Old Met (Behrens’ was of course the first at the New Met) so perhaps Riecker and Robinson were in their cups.

          • derschatzgabber says:

            Thanks for the detailed response Krunoslav. Even with the cuts that were common in the first MET cycles, a four day Ring sounds brutal for the singers and orchestra.

          • Bianca Castafiore says:

            Yes, I seemed to recall that the Ring was used to be presented over 5 days. Thanks all for clarifying that. Four days seems to be rather brutal for all parties involved.

          • marshiemarkII says:

            Kruno, I am surprised that you didn’t pick on the big booboo that I made talking about Francis Robinson in 1989, when ol’ Francis had died in 1980!!!! for the life of me now I cannot recall who was at the party, who was a big chronicler, Opera News/Guild-related, and old timer, very old, white haired and who died shortly after. His word was as much a seal of approval as Francis’, and I just can’t remember who it was. Charlie is of course separate, he was a good friend, and I knew him and his wife for a long time. I hope one day I remember who was the person at Bruno’s. At the table was Behrens, Zarin Mehta, this person talking about Met history with great authority, and others. It was after a broadcast of Siegfried either in 1988 or 1989. Ugggh memory banks are getting cloudy……

  • justanothertenor says:

    I have been wondering for a while about the “failure: of the LePage Ring. Having seen the entire version of this Ring, I think it is a little harsh to call it a complete failure. True, it is not particularly engaging, it is very obvious that the singers were not directed, that the production was focused on the Machine and its projections.
    Despite all of these failings, I found nothing offensive abut the production itself, and I would return to see it if a great cast appeared.
    The 2017 Ring was supposed to feature Goerke’s Brunhilde. I would have seriously considered seeing that, or Stemme’s, especially if they had been paired with Greer Grimsley as Wotan, Blythe as Fricka, a good Sieglinde (Pieczonka?), Siegfried (Hunter Morris is serviceable, Cleveman showed good promise on his debut night), etc. The casts are out there, and other houses seem to be able to book them.
    I think, however, that the biggest failing of the LePage production is that it was presented 4 MONTHS after the last outing of the Schenk production, which, like it or not, wad beloved by the NY audience.
    The most obvious and immediate difference in approach between the two productions was their Sets (as Gelb publicized it over and over). The Schenk presented grandiose sets of varying textures, colors and sizes, whereas LePage required you to look at the same set for 20 hours -- in different configurations, but it is just one set. And that is a long time to be looking at the same thing, especially when there is not much action going on onstage (direction? what direction?)
    In addition to that, Wagner is not to everyone’s taste. Requiring your audience to sit through 5+ hours of music for three operas, especially when you consider the “festival” price ticket which is twice the amount of a regular ticket, you are limiting your base of opera goers who will attend.
    The fact that this last Ring Cycle was empty and that the Met had to discount its tickets is not surprising. NY has been flooded with Ring performances for five years now, and I think the audience is tapped out. Here is a list of performances:

    2007-2008 Season
    6 Walküre (Jan/Feb 2008)

    Spring 2009
    3 Cycles (Mar/Apr/May 2009)
    2 Rheingolds (Mar/Apr 2009)
    1 Walküre (Apr 2009)

    2010-2011 Season
    8 Rheingolds (Sep/Oct 2010, Mar/Apr 2011)
    7 Walküre (Apr/May 2011)

    2011-2012 Season
    3 Siegfried (Oct/Nov 2011)
    5 Götterdämmerung (Jan/Feb 2012)

    Spring 2012
    3 Cycles (Apr/May 2012)

    Spring 2013
    3 Cycles (Apr/May 2013)

    When you compare that to previous outings of the Ring, you realize the number of performances were just over the top. It was poorly planned.

    I think the Machine will be greeted with much more welcoming arms when it returns, maybe in 2018 or 2019. NYers just need a little break from the incessant talk of the Machine.

    • justanothertenor says:

      Sorry, not 4 MONTHS but 16 months. I had a Math slip up there.

    • kashania says:

      I don’t think it’s a complete failure either. And most critics recognise the few spectacular visual moments separated by long stretches of direction-less story-telling. But the sheer sums of money spent on the Machine (and on re-enforcing the stage to withstand its weight) and the fact that it was the first new Ring at the Met in over 20 years raised expectations to a very high level. This production isn’t good enough to meet low expectations let alone the very high ones that greeted it.

      • derschatzgabber says:

        I think the production team bears a lot of blame for over inflating expectations. Do you remember the first video simulations of the machine that the Met released before the machine was actually finished? Those little video clips looked spectacular. But I remember thinking that there was no way those planks would ever move as fast as they did in the video preview, if a singer was standing on (or even near) them. It would have been insanely dangerous.

        • LittleMasterMiles says:

          I think is the crucial point: LePage seems to have planned his Ring for a Machine that could move dramatically faster (say, at the speed attained only in the very exciting moment at the end of the Norn scene when the thread breaks and the planks really go wild), and—more importantly—a cast that could do the kinds of things he asks of his usual acrobatic artists.

          It seems clear to me, for example, that the original plan for the end of Walküre was to have involved the soprano taking her position on the rock and then rotating into the upside-down position. A lot of sopranos (including Voigt) couldn’t or wouldn’t do that, but some surely would—not that this should determine casting, but it doesn’t exactly require superhuman strength to hang in a harness.

    • papopera says:

      What did they do with the Schenk production, is it stored somewhere, sold, or simply destroyed ??

      • justanothertenor says:

        I heard (and this is hearsay) from someone who was involved both in the last Schenk cycles and in the new LePage ones that Maestro Levine would not allow them to throw them out and that they are in storage somewhere….

  • Krunoslav says:

    In other HD-related news:

    http://www.bardavon.org/event_info.php?id=631&venue=upac

    Next, perhaps, Puccini’s TAMPA?

  • DermotMalcolm says:

    The current Met Ring was such a disaster--most notably Lepage’s Machine and Voigt’s Brunnhilde--that another problem may have been overlooked.
    I refer to the effect on the hall’s acoustics of the 2010 construction project under the Met stage that was necessitated by the weight of the Machine. If there had not been this additional support, the stage would have collapsed. The support is made of an extensive network of steel beams.
    The additional construction materials are now a permanent part fo the Met’s architecture.
    I wonder what effect the new support has had on the delicate balance that is a hall’s acoustics.
    Acoustics is a mixture of art and science, intuition and inventiveness. The Met’s acoustics were designed by an American engineer, Cyril Harris, and a Danish engineer, Vilhelm Jordan. The Met opened in 1966. Their work appears to have served the music and the Met’s musicians and audience well in the decades since. Harris died in 2011 at the age of 93.
    But in reference to the Met’s new stage support: recall what happened to Carnegie Hall’s acoustics after its 1986 renovation. For ten years there were complaints about a dead sound, and in fact a pile of cement was discovered in 1996 and removed, much improving the sound.
    Have there been any reports of changed acoustics because of the steel support structure added under the Met’s stage in 2010?

    • La Cieca says:

      No, but thanks for worrying.

    • LittleMasterMiles says:

      No, the added support was not under the stage itself, but under the wings. That wouldn’t affect the acoustic nearly as much as the guy behind last week at DIALOGUES me who spent the entire performance mansplaining the opera to his long-suffering wife.

  • The_Kid says:

    Way, WAY off-topic, but couldn’t help posting this. Those of us who are in NYC, please consider attending this vigil. Let us take the city back in the name of justice and humanity.

    “Saturday, May 18, 2013
    11:55pm in EDT

    Grays Papaya -- 6th Avenue and 8th Street

    Bring candles and friends tonight to remember those who have suffered from hate violence in the LGBT community in New York and nationally. Matthew Shepard was murdered in Wyoming 14 years ago and hate still continues to this day against LGBT people in our city.

    This will be at outside of Gray’s Papaya where a gay man was murdered last night at 6th Avenue and 8th Street in the heart of Greenwich Village.”

    Let the wicked who harm the innocent be cursed forever.

    • derschatzgabber says:

      Hi the Kid, sorry I couldn’t be physically in New York for the vigil. But I was there in spirit. I read the news reports of the vicious murder of the gay man. It is so depressing to realize that this kind of hate crime still can happen in Greenwich Village. It is comforting to know that people in New York are making a statement in response to this senseless violence.

  • Byrnham Woode says:

    The 6 day standard for a RING was indeed promulgated largely at Bayreuth in the late ’50s and early ’60s, and along with Nilsson, was heartily advocated by Hans Hotter. I imagine other German opera houses were quick to adopt such a schedule.

    At Bayreuth, and perhaps elsewhere, it is common to have instrumentalists change desks during the performance, or to have a night off. THe Bayreuth orchestra numbers around 150, and no Wagner score requires much more than 100 people, if that. So the first trumpet and/or lead violinist might only have to play the long first act of GOTTERDAMMERUNG.

    Wotan has a tough assignment if RHEINGOLD and WALKURE are two nights in a row, though there are resting points. He isn’t in the first act of WALKURE and has some substantial time off after his big act two monologue. The RHEINGOLD role has lots of short passages and onstge time, but only a couple of really “big sings”. He needs that night off before SIEGFRIED, though.

    The need to rest the soprano and tenor is equally obvious.

  • alejandro says:

    I would happily sit through more Ring cycles if the production had been good and if there were singers worth going to hear in said production.

    The LePage Ring was my first live Ring (I saw some of the Chereau/Boulez and the Levine/Schenk on DVD . . . and I have the Solti recording) and it was a testament to Wagner’s music that I was able to be extremely moved by all four operas despite some questionable directorial choices (Siegfried and the end of Gotterdammerung had to be some of the most embarrassingly terrible direction I have ever seen) and uneven singing. And while I am not a good judge of conductors, I really didn’t like Luisi’s take on the operas.

  • LittleMasterMiles says:

    Inflicitously titled, perhaps, the The Colón Ring certainly looks intersting (and it apparently follows in the Met’s tradition of including a documentary/apologia explaining how it all went wrong).

    http://www.gramophone.co.uk/classical-music-news/‘colón-ring’-released-for-wagner’s-bicentenary