|Three Big Weekends in May|
In the world of sports the first weekend in May is marked by the run for the roses. In Los Angeles, the last three weekends in May bring together some of the most exciting events of Ring Festival LA with the much anticipated opening of LA Opera’s first-ever full production of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen on May 29. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences got the weekend rolling May 14 when it hosted an evening of animated short subjects with soundtracks influenced by Wagner including The Rabbit of Seville, Musicland and What’s Up Opera Doc?.
Saturday evening began with the Friends Of The Observatory’s celebration of Griffith Park Observatory’s 75th anniversary. The star-studded night, Cosmic Conjunction 2010: Diamond Nights*Northern Lights, unveiled the new Samuel Oschin Planetarium exhibit Light of the Valkyries, which celebrates the Northern Lights with music from the Ring. The planetarium show is now opened to the public and will continue through September 6.
Hispanics for LA Opera and the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach created a memorable evening for friends of the museum and LA Opera. Ten of LA Opera’s talented Domingo-Thornton Young Artists entertained the crowd with an evening of opera and zarzuela.
The Norton Simon Museum brought Michael Hackett, Professor and Chair, Department of Theater, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television to speak on “Wagner: Seen and Heard.” Dr. Hackett focused on the complex relationship between what is “seen” and what is “heard” in the staging of a Wagnerian opera. Reference to artworks in the Norton Simon Museum’s collection enhanced a discussion of mood, atmosphere, emotional landscape and mise-en-scène as it is created for the stage.
REDCAT presented Considering Wagner on May 16. This night of contemporary music and film in four acts touched on different aspects of the Richard Wagner’s life, work and place in history: his musical and theatrical innovations, his über-expressionist concept of art, his preoccupation with Norse-Germanic mythology, his outsized personality, specific passages in his operas, and—not least—some of the ways in which creative practice has developed since his time. The multilayered program featured work by former Villa Aurora resident composers Peter Ablinger, Marko Ciciliani and Ulrich Krieger, additional compositions by Mark Menzies, Marc Sabat and Wolfgang von Schweinitz, and films by Peter Rappmund and Meason Wiley.
The Max Kade Institute at USC presented an evening of music, stage reading and discussion on May 17. Christina Linhardt, soprano, and Armen Guzelimian, piano, performed Wotan’s Ring Parable, with text by Cornelius Schnauber and music by Tom Schnauber. Eric Braeden read Die Nibelungen Saga, Richard Wagner’s original story of his Ring tetralogy. Professor Michael Meyer lectured on “Inventing Germany: Wagner and the National Imagination,” and Professor Cornelius Schnauber spoke on “How Anti-Semitic was Richard Wagner?” Mr. Guzelimian closed, performing “Fasolt and Fafner Paint the Town,” a Ring rhapsody for two Wagner tuben and piano by Tom Schnauber. The evening was presented in collaboration with the German-American Cultural Society.
Opera League of Los Angeles presents a Wagner Film Festival, a showcase of British director Tony Palmer’s films, on May 22 and 23 at the James Bridges Theatre. The highlight of the festival within a festival will be the world premiere of the director’s new film The Wagner Family on May 22, at 3:30 pm. Tony Palmer has come to Los Angeles for the premiere of his controversial film, which chronicles the ups and downs of the Wagner family, their struggles with the Bayreuth Festival, and the fights amongst themselves. A discussion of the film’s explosive contents will follow. UCLA Theatre Professor Michael Hackett will lead the discussion with Tony Palmer. The two-day event opens with Parsifal-The Search for the Grail, starring Plácido Domingo, with music conducted by Valery Gergiev. The event closes with Wagner starring Richard Burton, Vanessa Redgrave, Ralph Richardson, Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud. Sir George Solti conducts. Palmer’s film was described by the LA Times as “one of the most beautiful films ever made.” The festival provides an unprecedented opportunity to meet and hear from the director and see Palmer’s examinations of Wagner, his operas and his family.
The J. Paul Getty Museum invites guests to take special tours on “Antiquity and Wagner’s Ring Cycle,” May 19 and 23 from 2:30-4 pm at The Getty Villa. The tours explore the connections between the Ring, classical mythology and ancient theater through works of art in the Getty Museum’s collection.
If Sunday musicales are of interest, Ring Festival LA has several offerings on May 23. The Los Angeles Pierce Symphonic Winds presents Wagner’s Ring—No Strings Attached, at 1 and 4 pm; with Neal Brostoff giving pre-concert lectures on “Richard Wagner: Human Blemishes, Flawed Legacy” at noon and 3 pm. The concerts bring Stephen Piazza—bass clarinetist with the LA Opera orchestra—to lead his internationally acclaimed Los Angeles Pierce Symphonic Winds in a multi-media narrative that combines traditional and contemporary symphonic band arrangements with classic and novel visual representations of Wagner’s Ring.
Congregation Kol Ami presents “Circling Wagner,” at 2 pm. The concert serves as a musical examination of the composers who influenced Wagner, as well as those he influenced. The concert will feature John Walz, cello, and Edith Orloff, piano, of the Pacific Trio, with vocals by Mark Saltzman.
Sundays Live at LACMA brings the Young Artists from LA Opera’s Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program to the Museums Bing Theatre where they will perform in a recital featuring the music of Wagner. The recital begins at 6 pm.
LA Opera’s opening on May 29, of Das Rheingold the first opera of the first complete-cycle of Richard Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen ever presented in Los Angeles is Ring Festival LA’s May grand finale. Das Rheingold opens at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at 7:30 pm that evening. The cycle cast includes: soprano Linda Watson as Brünnhilde, with tenor John Treleaven as Siegfried, bass Vitalij Kowaljow as Wotan, baritone Richard Paul Fink as Alberich, tenor Plácido Domingo as Siegmund, mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung as Sieglinde, mezzo-soprano Jill Grove as Erda and tenor Graham Clark as Mime. Ms. DeYoung will also perform Fricka in Das Rheingold and Waltraute in Götterdämmerung, and the cast also features bass Eric Halfvarson as Fafner, Hunding and Hagen; tenor Arnold Bezuyen as Loge; mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk as Fricka in Die Walküre; bass-baritone Alan Held as Gunther; and soprano Jennifer Wilson as Gutrune. James Conlon, LA Opera’s Richard Seaver Music Director, conducts the production staged by legendary theater artist Achim Freyer.
Before Die Walküre, the second opera of the Ring, takes to the stage on May 30, the USC Brain and Creativity Institute and REDCAT present “Myth, Wagner and the Human Brain.” The 3 pm colloquium at REDCAT will bring together acclaimed theater and opera director Peter Sellars, world-renowned visual artist Bill Viola, and Antonio Damasio, internationally-renowned neurologist and neuroscientist as well as Director of the USC Brain and Creativity Institute. Die Walküre follows at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at 6 pm, and there is just enough time before the opera to enjoy a taste of German food at one of Patina’s restaurants or a beer at the German Beer Garden on the Plaza at the Music Center.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 May 2010 12:17|