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Brush up on your Wagner -- online

October 19, 2009 |  2:41 pm

Siegfried So you're thinking of investing $350 to $2,200 per ticket -- or perhaps you already have -- and something on the order of 18 hours to see Los Angeles Opera's four-installments-in-eight-days presentation of Wagner's "Ring" cycle next May and June. (Sorry -- the frugal gourmand option, $100 for a handrail-obstructed nosebleed seat, is sold clean out.)

One way to prepare for the experience might be to take up a $10 offer from Opera America, the national service and support organization for opera companies and opera lovers. From April 6 to June 1, its Online Learning program will offer a course on the "Ring." The prep, with L.A. Opera serving as a partner, consists of eight weekly lectures, plus audio and visuals. The course covers Wagner, his musical techniques, the mythology behind the story and the history of "Ring" productions. There's also an online bulletin board for students to banter and debate.

The teacher is writer-educator Thomas May, a frequent writer of operatic program notes and author of the book "Decoding Wagner: An Invitation to His World of Music Drama."

A Culture Monster note: No word on whether L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich has plans to sign up. 

This season's other online opera course, covering Puccini's "La Boheme," convenes Tuesday and continues through Nov. 17, taught by composer John Glover.

-- Mike Boehm

Photo: A scene from "Siegfried" from L.A. Opera's production of Wagner's "Ring" cycle. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

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