Thursday, May 28, 2009

NYT on Schenk, Wadsworth, Holten, Zambello, and Lepage

Anthony Tommasini wrote an interesting article for the New York Times on Sunday about current productions of the Ring.

I have to quibble with Mr. Tommasini when he says about the Seattle Ring:
The one miscalculation the director Stephen Wadsworth made in his imaginative “Ring” for the Seattle Opera, which I saw at its premiere in 2001, was the ending of “Götterdämmerung.” This outdoorsy, environmental staging, the “green ‘Ring,’ ” returns to the company this summer.

At its conclusion, as the river overflows its banks and the ring is returned to the Rhinemaidens, the gods appear out of nowhere in some nether realm, exchanging congratulatory hugs, now that the curse is broken and the natural order restored. No! The gods should be kaput.

I'm sorry if it looked to Mr. Tommasini, in 2001, as if our gods survived the apocalypse. In 2005, with the increased technical possibilities of McCaw Hall (as opposed to 2001's Seattle Opera House), it was more clear that the gods were hugging each other in farewell; that they would not in fact survive.

I'm also fascinated by his description of Seattle's Ring as 'outdoorsy' and 'environmental'. More to come on that later; for the time being, I have to head up to REI, to get my bicycle back from the shop. Really!


  1. Hallo, Jon!
    Thanks for correcting Tomassini on the "Goetterdaemmerung"-Ending!
    As to Seattle's "Ring" being a "green 'Ring'", I thought that was the (legitimate, good) intention. "REI" should be happy about that, too!! Hope they did a good job on your bike!
    Ride safely,

  2. Quite right, Jonathan! Thanks for sparing me the effort of writing a letter to the New York Times.

  3. Hey, way to give away the ending! Where's your spoiler alert? ;)

    Seriously though, it sounds really interesting. Nice posts.

  4. Don't blame me, blame Erda in RHEINGOLD, she's the one who spoils the ending. But can you imagine a world where movies were like operas, where they hand you a plot synopsis as you enter the theater so you don't need to try to follow the plot as it unfolds and can instead concentrate on the skills involved in the presentation (acting/cinematography/editing)?

  5. It's possible to concentrate on the presentation and follow the plot at the same time (although with some operas, it's pretty difficult). I think in some cases the dramatic impact, which the presentation is there to create, is diluted if every action is known ahead of time.

    Of course, if something's good, you'll see it many times whether it's a movie, theater or opera--you just enjoy it differently.

  6. On second thought, with some operas you probably don't need to know ahead of time what happens, but the Ring may be an entirely different story. I didn't realize how much of the story and meaning were expressed through the orchestra rather than primarily by the singing. Also, didn't realize the three generations-long epicness of it. :)

  7. The article is really very interesting, considering the fact that opera is not so popular nowadays and you can hardly find a good and interesting review on it. Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts!