May 16, 2010 |
Los Angeles Opera's "Ring Cycle" clocks in at nearly 19 hours (with intermissions). That's not only a lot of Richard Wagner's music but plenty of love greed, incest and murder. Here, for the uninitiated, is a summary of the four operas. 'Das Rheingold' (The Rhine Gold) Before the curtain Wotan — the God of the gods— has hired two giants, Fasolt and Fafner to build Valhalla, a castle for the gods. Alberich, a dwarf, rolls up to the bottom of the Rhine river and finds three women, well, actually Rhine River Nymphs, swimming and singing and (oh, yeah)
April 11, 2010 |
Look, up in the sky! In case you haven't noticed already, our entertainment stratosphere has grown crowded with muscle-bound superheroes in almost every conceivable shape and size: the franchise-rebooted likes of Spider-Man and Superman, battle-armored warriors such as Robin Hood and Perseus. To whom do we owe our super-saturated superhero culture? It would be easy to lay all of the credit (or blame) at the feet of comic-book artists and Hollywood executives. But superhero roots go much deeper than that, and if you excavate long enough, you will inevitably bump smack into Richard Wagner, the 19th century composer whose four-opera cycle "The Ring of the Nibelung" is regarded by many as an important genetic mother ship for today's fleet of action heroes.
April 4, 2010
Ring Festival LA officially begins next week with hundreds of cultural events over 10 weeks spread across much of Los Angeles County. The sprawling schedule can seem daunting, so here's a sampling of some of the events to provide a better idea of the festival's breadth and diversity. 'INVISIBLE SIEGFRIEDS MARCHING SUNSET BOULEVARD' Various outdoor locations April 17-20 A group of helmeted "Siegfrieds" will pull a cart carrying opera singer Christina Ascher as part of a four-day procession from downtown L.A. to the ocean.
April 4, 2010 |
Among the eclectic offerings on tap for Los Angeles Opera's Ring Festival LA will be a Teutonic beer garden, lectures on Richard Wagner's masterful artistry and racist ideology, a screening of the Bugs Bunny classic "What's Opera, Doc?" and a convergence of Norse mythology and astrophysics at the Griffith Observatory dubbed "Light of the Valkyries." Among the festival ideas that didn't make the final cut: a "dancing blimp" over downtown L.A. and an all-German dog show at the Convention Center.
March 21, 2010 |
In Richard Wagner's "The Ring of the Nibelung," a pile of sacred gold and a ring that's fashioned from it are said to confer "measureless might." However, by the fourth scene of the 17-hour-plus opus, a drawback has emerged: A curse gets attached to the loot, and a colorful assortment of gods, dwarfs, giants and humans spend the rest of the proceedings either succumbing to the hex or trying to set things right. Achim Freyer can relate. Los Angeles Opera has put him in charge of its own mighty hoard -- the $32 million budgeted for mounting L.A.'s first-ever production of the Ring, a four-part work that connoisseurs consider opera's Mount Everest.
February 14, 2010
'Wolves' owes debt to 'Arrow' William Royce in his letter of last week ("Feedback," Feb. 7) correctly points out that "Avatar" owes a lot, narratively speaking, to "Dances With Wolves." But "Dances With Wolves" is itself a complete rip-off of Samuel Fuller's vivid, raw, altogether masterful 1957 western "Run of the Arrow." I don't inherently mind similar stories being retold, but I do wish that filmmakers would at least acknowledge the originals. Jeremy Arnold Los Angeles Wrong man on a pedestal That was quite a tribute to Martin Scorsese ("Mean Straits," Feb. 7)
February 7, 2010 |
Among the copious anecdotes that Leon Botstein likes to relate about Richard Wagner and his ugly anti-Jewish views is an ironic one involving Zionist Movement founder Theodor Herzl. As Botstein has detailed in an essay, in 1895 Herzl was a journalist in Paris covering the Dreyfus affair, an army scandal with anti-Semitic taints that rocked French society. When he wasn't filing news reports, Herzl attended the Paris Opera, where he absorbed Wagner's volcanic music. He was inspired both by the German composer's artistry and his ideas about community-building, which some scholars believe helped shape Herzl's concept of a Jewish homeland.
July 22, 2009 |
After a spirited debate that pitted two prominent Los Angeles politicians against each other over issues of anti-Semitism and the operas of Richard Wagner, the County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to give its support to the 2010 Ring Festival L.A., a citywide arts celebration that will focus on Wagner's epic cycle, "The Ring of the Nibelung." The board rejected a motion by Supervisor Mike Antonovich asking the festival's main backer, the Los Angeles Opera, to shift the event's focus away from Wagner, the renowned 19th century composer who is widely admired for his operas and detested for his virulently anti-Semitic personal views.