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Inside L.A. Opera's $32-million Wagnerian wager

March 20, 2010 |  8:00 am

Achim If there's one thing the public knows about Los Angeles Opera's $32-million production of Richard Wagner's "The Ring of the Nibelung," it's the price tag.

While the big sum does serve as a convenient shorthand signaling that this is a major undertaking, it also has tended to reduce to dollar signs something that's meant to be a peak experience of music wedded to myth, philosophy and drama. As Placido Domingo, the company's general director, puts it, "It is my hope that [audiences] will be looking at the art, not at the money that they think has been spent."

With L.A.'s first-ever Ring moving toward a home stretch that begins with the April 3 opening of the final stand-alone installment, "Gotterdammerung" -- then continues May 29-June 26 with the climactic mounting of the entire 17-hour-plus opus -- we try to follow the money and find out just what $32 million buys. One hint: In director Achim Freyer's unorthodox staging, we found nary a line item for Viking-style horned helmets.

For the full story from Arts & Books, click here.

-- Mike Boehm

Photo: Director Achim Freyer among his handmade costumes. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times