Not everybody loves the opera; I get that. And it's not like I'm a super awesome opera lover who can break down every tragedy there ever was in act-by-act detail. Really I can only name like five opera singers. But, I do like putting on my gloves and cape and going to hear some melodramatic Italian. Or, in this case, German.
Not surprisingly, there are not a ton of people around me who want to shell out some fairly serious ducats to see people slowly moving about a stage in long gowns. But, luckily, my aunt is down for the trip so together we saw the most bizarrely designed opera ever. At least, for us.
It was The Ring put up by the LA Opera, and it rocked our worlds.
We went to opening night of Das Rheingold last month and will see Die Walkure in two weeks. The entire ring cycle will be up in 2010 when you can see all 15 hours of Wagner's opera in rapid succession, without many bathroom breaks. Apparently, they're trying to make it a city-wide festival, which I'm excited to see.
Let me tell you, the lighting, the stage, the costumes, the website, the program, the everything is incredibly designed. I don't necessarily mean incredibly as in pretty or perfect or just right, but incredibly as in awesome and risky. People walked out in the middle. At the end it was a combination of standing ovation and boos. It was seriously controversial, perhaps because the entire production is somewhat reminiscent of an evening after a dinner of sauteed psilocybes.
It's exciting when designers - in this case, Achim Freyer - move away from the safe, away from what they know about an audience (and the opera audience is pretty well defined), and do something that they know is going to result in some seriously rich people contemplating their membership in the upper echelons of donor-dom.
It was design, it was communication, and it was art.