Seattle Opera turns to 19-year-old to vlog and tweet its 'Ring' cycle
As our city gears up for Ring Festival L.A. in 2010 -- centered on Los Angeles Opera's sequential presentation of Richard Wagner's epic four-opera "Ring" cycle, directed by Achim Freyer -- it is easy to forget that L.A. is, ahem, hardly the first city on the West Coast to discover that Wagner wrote this big old sprawling thing and to have the bright idea of staging it. Seattle Opera, founded in 1963, has made Seattle the "Ring" capital of the Left Coast: Since 1975, the company has presented 35 cycles of the German composer's "Der Ring des Nibelungen" (three different productions). In fact, the company is "Ring"-ing again this summer, presenting the cycle Aug. 9-30.
As will be the case when Los Angeles Opera presents the four operas May 29-June 26 next year, there will be occasional days off between Seattle Opera "Ring" performances, because this stuff is really, really hard to sing.
Now, Culture Monster would never provoke a coastal conflict by declaring a "Ring" war between the Northwest and the Southland, but it seems that Seattle is seeking to make its venerable "Ring" sparkle for younger generations with its reality-style video project "Confessions of a First-Time Opera Goer," which will chronicle 19-year-old Cassidy Quinn Brettler's first experience attending the "Ring."
Beginning in mid-June and throughout the performance schedule, Brettler will conduct behind-the scenes interviews with the artists, attend rehearsals and even meet with the so-called Ringies, the die-hard fans who follow "Ring" performances all over the world.
Brettler, a double major in acting and broadcasting at Boston's Emerson College, will post her updates on the action on her personal Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as tweeting on Seattle Opera's Twitter account.
The youthful host was chosen from 49 hopefuls in an online vote. More than 6,500 votes were cast for five finalists, whose videos were posted on the Seattle Opera website for a four-day voting period that began June 1.
Seattle Opera Executive Director Kelly Tweeddale confirms that the company is turning to social networking sites to sell old operas to a new audience: "What better way to put it into practice than to find an enthusiastic participant who is eager to share the opera experience from an authentic and engaged viewpoint?"
The completed video will air on the Seattle Opera website and perhaps other web-based venues. We'll have to wait and see whether Brettler will like the Seattle production so much that she'll show up in L.A. to see it all again in 2010.
-- Diane Haithman
Photos: Seattle Opera's 2009 "Ring." Credit Chris Bennion. Cassidy Quinn Brettler, photo courtesy of Brettler.