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Sundance Institute to offer backstage opera documentary for Ring Festival L.A.

March 24, 2009 |  2:15 pm


It's too early to tell how Ring Festival L.A. will shape up. That's the 10-week extravaganza involving some 50 Southern California arts and educational institutions planned for spring 2010 and inspired by Los Angeles Opera's production of German composer Richard Wagner's epic "Ring" cycle.

Although we're pretty sure bratwurst will be served, so far those organizations involved in the fest, which aspires to rival Los Angeles' successful 1984 Olympic Arts Festival, have provided few details on how they intend to celebrate Wagner's career and music.

Singfaster_spike_2 But one organization, the Sundance Institute, let Culture Monster in on its plan to screen the documentary  "Sing Faster: The Stagehands' Ring Cycle,"  which made its debut at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival and won the Sundance Filmmaker Trophy. The movie goes behind the scenes at San Francisco Opera to visit the crew, focusing on principal stagehand Ken "Spike" Kirkland.

No word yet on the time and place of the screenings, but those who feel daunted by the approximately 15-hour total running time of Wagner's four operas should note that the doc is only 55 minutes -- and at the end of the film, every elaborate scene of the production flashes by in what is described as "a 60-second blizzard of time-lapse photography."

--Diane Haithman

Photo: Placido Domingo, center, flanked by L.A. County Board Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, left, and philanthropist Eli Broad, at a news conference at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to announce Ring Festival L.A. Credit: Irfan Kahn / Los Angeles Times.

Photo: From "Sing Faster": Ken "Spike" Kirkland. Credit: Docurama/New Video