Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

Met's Ring, anyone?


  • Please log in to reply
49 replies to this topic

#16 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,310 posts

Posted 10 May 2012 - 07:26 PM

When they designed the Seattle Ring, and they hung the Rhine daughters from harnesses and made them flip around what I assume is a horizontal bar, they created a harness where the singers could stand against the bottom of the harness and get support through their feet when they had to sing. (I think they did some free-form squeals while flipping.) Each Rhine daughter has two "handlers", one creating horizontal and the other creating vertical motion, with whom they worked for a long time and came to trust. They were also warned one year ahead of time to start working out, and I seem to remember it came up at one of the seminars that at least after the premiere (in 2001), they sent work-out bags (I think with some equipment) and exercise outlines to each of the Rhine daughters to get them started.

#17 SandyMcKean

SandyMcKean

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 943 posts

Posted 10 May 2012 - 09:00 PM

I have to underline Helene's comments here. As much as I enjoyed LePage's Rhine Maidens flying, it didn't hold a candle (IMO) to the spectacle that Seattle created. The key in my mind to Seattle's version of the beginning of Das Rheingold was that the Rhine Maidens could move (and sing) while suspended. They could go up and down and back and forth, in any combination. This made them appear to be actually flying (swimming really) rather than just being suspended. Not only that, but the Rhine Maidens were able to swoop down and interact with Albrecht during the entire scene without ever "landing". In the Met production, I thought the parts of the scene where Albrecht and the RMs were all on the same level surface, bound by gravity, was awkward. I allowed myself to believe that Albrecht could not catch them, but in Seattle since the RMs were always flying, it was real.....Albrecht literally could not lay a hand on them because they could simply "fly" away.

#18 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,310 posts

Posted 10 May 2012 - 09:24 PM

The one thing I did like about the "Das Rheingold" use of the Machine was that it pushed all the characters to the front of the stage, and made them interact with each other, rather than shouting across the stage, which made it more intimate, or at least that's what it looked like on camera.

#19 sandik

sandik

    Rubies Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,631 posts

Posted 10 May 2012 - 09:36 PM

When they designed the Seattle Ring, and they hung the Rhine daughters from harnesses and made them flip around what I assume is a horizontal bar, they created a harness where the singers could stand against the bottom of the harness and get support through their feet when they had to sing.


And this is apparently the secret -- if you can get yourself in something that resembles a standing position, with your feet pressing against some kind of support, you can engage your diaphragm and really sing. Even upside down.

#20 Birdsall

Birdsall

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,339 posts

Posted 11 May 2012 - 04:31 AM

One of the Rhine maidens in Lepage's staging seemed absolutely terrified in a short clip they showed before the Das Rheingold HD. I think she had every right to be. Singers do not train as gymnasts or bungee jumpers. I think Lepage thought singers would be more game to do these sorts of things and probably thought he could convince star singers to do more things on top of the planks, but he quickly discovered that wasn't going to work. The singers have enough to worry about (lines, high notes, staying on pitch, seeing conductor, hearing prompter, acting, etc). Adding jumping all over a "machine" that MIGHT malfunction (so creating a certain level of fear) and I can imagine the resistance he came up against (plus his own fears that he could potentially endanger a singer). So he had to probably drop many of his hopes and ideas. But that made this "machine" dead in the water. He should have used more of his athletic crew that he used in the Damnation of Faust. In LA Achim Freyer used a team of people that was his "troupe" and Lepage had a troupe for previous things. He should have used them to double more (like when they walk up the Rainbow Bridge). I wonder why he didn't use them more to help alleviate fears for the singers and create more of a spectacle around the machine. I still am not sure how he would be able to do it but at times he could have them doing crazy stuff on top of the machine while the singer is in the pit singing the lines. I wouldn't want that to happen throughout the opera, but in some moments it might have worked and made the machine concept more viable.

#21 Ray

Ray

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 997 posts

Posted 11 May 2012 - 04:52 AM

The one thing I did like about the "Das Rheingold" use of the Machine was that it pushed all the characters to the front of the stage, and made them interact with each other, rather than shouting across the stage, which made it more intimate, or at least that's what it looked like on camera.


I agree completely--and this is something that one DOES notice in the live performance (and sitting up, as I am, in nosebleed territory): by constantly keeping the singers downstage the singing is always clear and audible. Ironically, however, in light of all the scenic machinations, this leads to some "park and bark" staging. In this production those moments sometimes come as a relief!

BTW, the singers seem more comfortable now than the early descriptions report. But again this may be an effect of how far away I am sitting.

#22 SandyMcKean

SandyMcKean

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 943 posts

Posted 11 May 2012 - 07:35 AM

There were a few interesting things when the machine would move into the next scene, but for the most part it did not add anything to the story.


Frankly, I think we can be more generous than that.

Altho I do think this production had its hits and misses, there were aspects that were, IMHO, spectacular! For example, I doubt I will ever see a more dramatically correct opening to The Ring than in this production. When the lights go down, and that stupendous E flat chord arises out of the depths of being, The Machine was at its finest. As the E flat chord starts to undulate bringing images of nature and the waters of the River Rhein to mind, what could better express those moments visually than how The Machine, bathed in eerie "dawn-like" blue light, starts its undulating sinusoidal wave motion. The wave built like the sound and expressed perfectly I thought the beginning of all -- just as I believe Wagner meant it to be.

Congratulations Robert LePage for all the things in this production that DID work......some spectacularly so.

#23 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,310 posts

Posted 11 May 2012 - 03:09 PM

I just finished slogging through the almost 8-hour Tony Palmer film "Wagner." One of the rare treats in this film when Sir John Gielgud wasn't on screen was the set of clips of the Rhine daughters in the contraptions Wagner either designed or approved to show them flying, which looked like cages that might launch Evel Knievel, and while they had handlers to move them, and they weren't nearly as high as the top of the Machine, they looked quite rickety. The first clips were shown while Karl Ritter (Gabriel Byrne) conducted the first orchestral rehearsals of the prelude to "Das Rheingold", with the singers squealing in fright over Ritter's shouts at the orchestra. The second clips were when "Das Rheingold" was finally premiered in Bayreuth, where the scene was shown as lit through a scrim, and the effect was magical. There's also some footage of the late Jess Thomas as Albert Niemann.

Christopher Gable is listed in the credits as Peter Cornelius, but there were so many characters and so much facial hair that I didn't recognize him.

#24 SandyMcKean

SandyMcKean

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 943 posts

Posted 11 May 2012 - 04:01 PM

One of the rare treats in this film...was the set of clips of the Rhine daughters in the contraptions Wagner either designed or approved to show them flying......


That is the very clip (I referred to in my 5/8/12 post -- excerpt below) which LePage showed his Rheinmaidens in the "Wagner's Dream" documentary.

.......where Wagner is shown to expose his Rhine Maidens to some even more scarey and dangerous "flying contraptions" in an attempt by LePage to get his flying singers to accept the premise that his making of such a request was not new and not inconsistent with The Ring.



#25 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,310 posts

Posted 11 May 2012 - 04:34 PM

It might not have been a new request, but at least Wagner's Rhine daughters were strapped into Wagner's contraptions and they were less than 10 feet off the ground in the ones shown, not more than three feet above the heads of the standing handlers.

#26 SandyMcKean

SandyMcKean

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 943 posts

Posted 11 May 2012 - 05:23 PM

Do you really think that mechanical safety was better in 1876 than today.....even if today at the Met the heights may have increased? I'll take today's lawyer ridden, insurance company dictated, safety standards any day if I were ever asked to be a Rheinmaiden Posted Image Posted Image.

#27 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,310 posts

Posted 11 May 2012 - 05:36 PM

I would rather have fallen out of Wagner's contraption than off the top of the Machine, although I thought the effect (from an audience point of view) was fantastic.

A couple of the Valkyries got caught sliding down the paddling Machine planks, and they were very lucky not to have been injured.

#28 Birdsall

Birdsall

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,339 posts

Posted 11 May 2012 - 06:24 PM

I would rather have fallen out of Wagner's contraption than off the top of the Machine, although I thought the effect (from an audience point of view) was fantastic.

A couple of the Valkyries got caught sliding down the paddling Machine planks, and they were very lucky not to have been injured.



I thought the Valkyries bobbing up and down on the planks was one of the weakest moments of the entire Ring. That is just my personal opinion. LePage had some literal things (like a dragon head in Rheingold or the projected forest in Siegfried or the horse Grane for Brünnhilde), but then we are supposed to buy the planks going up and down as horses? To me it looked like a moment where he thought, "I better use the planks a little more....."
I think that is part of the problem with this production. It doesn't quite know what it wants to do.....at times the machine is used to convey images that simply represent something it is obviously not...like in a metaphorical way. Planks as winged horses. Then, later in Götterdämmerung Brünnhilde has a horse that looks like a horse. So no continuity. Other times it is used (for example during the projected forest and forest bird) to show very concrete images. It comes across as a hodge podge of things to me. The 3D projections in Siegfried were actually very nice and I wish that would have been used more throughout the entire production.
I will say that I did like that Grane had a role in this production even if it was a fake horse. I hate how most other productions Grane is nowhere to ever be seen despite Brünnhilde mentioning him several times. The Met brings all kinds of animals on stage and even horses in other operas, but for some reason it doesn't seem to want a live horse for Grane. In fact, most productions don't want to put a live horse on stage. The recent Boris Godunov had two live horses, so why not the Ring???? But I will take a fake horse like in LePage's Ring. That is an okay compromise.
So, yes, there are some good things in this Ring, but overall, I am disappointed. I am glad to hear the singers look more comfortable in the production though.
Bart

#29 abatt

abatt

    Sapphire Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,746 posts

Posted 12 May 2012 - 05:06 AM

I think this production may look better in HD than in the house live. In the house, the singers were often isolated on the apron of the stage, with little interaction with their surroundings (that is, the Machine) or with eachother. I'm still baffled by the cost of that contraption. Since the Met spent so much money on the Machine, many of their other new productions are very low budget and cheap looking. I was generally unimpressed with the production. I hope they bring back the old production that it replaced at some point. That old production was ravishing and wonderful.

#30 Ray

Ray

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 997 posts

Posted 14 May 2012 - 04:43 AM

Article re Lepage's Ring by a NY Times art critic, who focuses on the role of video in the production.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):