Touchy scheduling for L.A. Opera's next 'Ring' offering
Now that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has defused Mike Antonovich’s potentially embarrassing attempt to change the focus of Los Angeles Opera’s Ring Festival from Wagner as a way of dealing with the Wagnerian anti-Semitism issue (rather than simply dealing with it head-on as originally planned), I hope it is safe to point out that the company’s troubles may not be completely over.
Unfortunately, its next installment in the cycle, "Siegfried," opens on Sept. 26, in the midst of the Jewish High Holidays, which begin with Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year’s celebration on Sept. 18, and end Sept. 27 with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and the most solemn occasion on the Jewish calendar.
“Siegfried,” the third “Ring” opera, is the least popular and most problematic of the cycle. It begins with Mime, a greedy dwarf who raised Siegfried, trying to trick the guileless superhero out of a lot of money. The stereotyping is clear enough, although it goes both ways, given what a nasty oaf Siegfried can be.
In L.A. Opera's defense, “Siegfried” scheduling can be hell. Neither superheroes nor wily dwarfs grow on trees. “Rings” abound, and demand for singers is high. Plus, opera-goers who don’t particularly want to feel forced to atone for their Wagner addictions the next day can always wait for one of the later performances.
For those wondering how Achim Freyer, the avant-garde German director of the L.A. “Ring,” will handle a sensitive subject, the clue we have so far is that Mime’s rotten-to-the-core dwarf brother was a midget industrialist in “Das Rheingold.” And those just curious about Freyer's work might check out his strangely alluring music video, on the terrific new website classicaltv.com.
-- Mark Swed
Top photo: Viktor Chernomortsev, left, as Alberich and Vasliy Gorshkov as Mime in the Kirov Opera production of Wagner's "Siegfried" at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in 2006. Bottom photo: Gordon Hawkins, center, as Alberich in Achim Freyer's production of "Das Rheingold" at Los Angeles Opera in February. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times