Sunday, July 11, 2010

"Ring Disaster in LA"

I invite my readers to read the following article at Huffington Post:
How Do You Loose $5,960,000 on an Opera?

Then - check out these YouTube Videos of this production:

Ok - now.  I love the Ring Cycle - I would consider myself what the writer of this blog calls a "Ring Nut."  But I have also had experience on the inside of an opera company and I know that opera is very, very expensive and that the overall financial health of the institution must come first.  This Ring has been doomed from the start.  It has gotten nothing but bad press.  At one point I considered going.  But the 9 day spread plus the absolute weirdness of the production put me off.  Also, and for me most important - principal singers from this production were quoted in the media as complaining that this production was THE most unsafe production they had ever appeared in.  This is absolutely beyond the pale.  I am amazed that Domingo did not step in here and put an end to this or at least insist on modifications.

I am a big Domingo fan.  As a singing actor and as an artist he is unmatched in the 20th century, in my view.  But, perhaps he needs to ask more advice of Peter Gelb, who is by far the finest opera general manager I have ever observed.  I cannot disagree with the writer of this blog when he faults Domingo for this.  The top executive is ultimately responsible for both successes and failures.  This is true at banks, car companies, insurance companies, churches and opera companies.  The buck has to stop with at his desk.  I do think that the comment about Simon Bocanegra was a cheap shot however and not really relevant to his basic argument.

In conclusion, we need new productions of the Ring.  But we need responsible productions.  It is possible.  In my years with Opera Illinois we had a financial crisis during our production of "The Ballad of Baby Doe."  We had to cancel the set and the costumes.  What to do?  Our inventive and creative stage director created a production with set pieces, props and projections at a fraction of the cost of the original.  It continues to be one of my most cherished operatic memories.  It was fantastic and it goes to show that it is possible to be creative and clever and inventive and not have to spend 6 million dollars to do it.

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