Thursday, March 12, 2009

An Open Letter to Maestro Conlon, Art. Director Domingo, Angel-Patron Broad: RE the $32 million dollar travesty aka The LA Opera Ring Cycle

Last night's “Das Rheingold” was a miserable travesty.

If the following review seems unnecessarily harsh, it has a purpose. It's designed to save the planned full Ring cycle next year. And it's an open letter and a plea. Here's it is:

Maestro Conlon, Artistic Director Domingo, Angel-Patron Broad:

Please find a Loge of your own and weasel your way out of the contract you have with Achim Freyer.

Don't let him design, build and stage the entire ring cycle next year. Instead:

1) Be a Wotan and steal Robert LePage's design and staging for his future MET production.
2) If that's not ready or Mr. Gelb won't lend it out, get John Conklin's stunning, simple and powerful design from Chicago and restage it.
3) Even better, get former GAle/GAtes director/designer Michael Counts to work his magic at re-imagining this behemoth. He can do it quick and for a tenth of your $32 million dollar budget. He’ll wow your audiences with visions worthy of Wagner’s score.
4) If you can't do that, borrow the Met's nearly silly, old "classic" 1986 Otto Schenk design. Even that creaky production would be better than Freyer’s nonsense.
5) And if all else fails, just do it as a staged reading.

Why? Because I can't think of anything worse than the avant-summerstock garbage I saw onstage last night at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. If you allow this production to continue as planned you are going to turn off the entire city of Los Angeles to Wagner for the next decade if not longer (for reasons other than Wagner’s doing).

Please don’t do this.

Why? First because Maestro Conlon did a fine job with the orchestra. And his work (and the singers) should not be diminished or destroyed by the offensive staging.

In addition, Wagner was the most influential European artist of the 19th century and we in an artistic metropolis such as Los Angeles have an obligation to mount and should have the pleasure of experiencing his greatest work in the most potent manner in order to continue the conversation.

The production as is won’t allow us to see, hear or feel this seminal work.

As I left the theatre, a guy behind me said to his friend, "I don't know about all these avant-garde productions they always seem to do." The problem is not that it’s avant-garde. It isn’t. It’s just bad. People won’t know the difference and they’ll think they don’t like avant-garde or/and they hate Wagner. Don’t let this happen.

Get a Loge and get to work.


David Rodwin

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