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L.A. Opera plans `Ring' `for the millennium'

Achim Freyer will direct and design Wagner's four-opera cycle, with the first half debuting in the 2008-09 season.

September 29, 2006|Chris Pasles | Times Staff Writer

German director Achim Freyer, known for complex and sometimes obscure stagings, will direct and design Wagner's four-opera "Ring" cycle for Los Angeles Opera, general director Placido Domingo announced Thursday at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

Freyer "is a man who has given our company two highly acclaimed productions, namely Bach's Mass in B-minor and Berlioz's 'Damnation of Faust,' " Domingo said.

The company will present seven performances of each single work -- "The Rhinegold" and "The Valkyrie" during the 2008-09 season, and "Siegfried" and "Twilight of the Gods" in 2009-10. In the summer of 2010, the troupe will present three full "Ring" cycles, in which all four operas will be performed in order over the course of a few days.

The entire cost of the tetralogy will be $32 million, according to Domingo. Of that, $20 million will come from seasonal ticket revenue and annual contributions, $6 million from the previously announced gift from the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Foundation and the rest from fundraising.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday September 30, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 62 words Type of Material: Correction
Placido 'Ring': An article in Friday's Calendar section about the Los Angeles Opera "Ring" cycle said Placido Domingo would sing Siegmund in the Kirov "Ring" Oct. 6-11 at the new Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. In fact, he will sing the role in the older Segerstrom Hall, which is also part of the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

Speaking through an interpreter, Freyer said that although he had been approached to stage a "Ring" earlier, for years he had wanted nothing to do with it because of the later associations of the 19th-century work with Hitler.

Subsequently, he decided that "Hitler was a real idiot, an Alberich," referring to the dwarf who steals the Rhinegold at the beginning of the cycle to forge a ring that will give him power to control the world.

Freyer also said that there had never been a production of the "Ring" in the way that "Wagner had wanted and sketched," and that he hoped his production -- details of which he would not reveal -- would be "a 'Ring' for the millennium."

Domingo announced that he would sing Siegmund, a role he will also perform in the Kirov Opera's "Ring" cycle Oct. 6-11 at the new Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa.

The L.A. cast will also include Linda Watson as Brunnhilde; John Treleaven as Siegfried; Anja Kampe as Sieglinde; Michelle DeYoung as Fricka; Eric Halfvarson triple-cast as Fafner, Hunding and Hagen; Gordon Hawkins as Alberich; Graham Clark as Mime; Jill Grove as Erda; Arnold Bezuyen as Loge; and Alan Held as Gunther.

Asked if members of his famed Berlin-based theatrical ensemble would participate, Freyer said "absolutely not." He will assemble a special team of non-singing actors from Los Angeles, he said.

James Conlon, the company's new music director, will conduct the cycle. It will be his first American "Ring," although he has conducted the work in Germany. In coming seasons, he will also conduct such other Wagner operas for the company as "Tannhauser," "The Mastersingers of Nurnberg" and "Tristan and Isolde."

L.A. Opera first announced plans for a "Ring" in 2000 to be staged by German director Peter Mussbach, working with Industrial Light & Magic, George Lucas' special-effects team. But the post-Sept. 11 economic slowdown derailed the plans.

"This 'Ring' has had the gestation period of an elephant," Conlon said. "I'm delighted to be on top of that elephant."

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