Wagner in San Francisco Part 2 – Sunday, June 19, 2011

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(c) Earl Love 2000

Bayreuth Festspielhaus

One of the things I dislike about new "interpretations" of the Ring are the superficial attempts to add something original or contemporary. This Ring, for example, is being called "The American Ring" or "A Ring for America" or whatever. Since it is directed by a woman in 2011 it has to be seen from a contemporary and female or feminist point of view. But of course one is only going to change things that are easy to change. One is not going to add some atonal riffs to the music. It's easier to play with the staging and use, for example, a model of the kids' toy "Transformer" for the dragon. This presumably will help draw the kids into Wagner. Even having Sieglinde help Siegmund extract the sword from the tree trunk doesn't bother me. I suppose it diminishes Siegmund's role as the hero but so what, it's just another cheap bit of kitsch, and I have learned to not let these distractions prevent me from enjoying the music and the singing. But it's all so superficial. Why can't directors just give it a rest and let us enjoy Wagner the way it was meant to be enjoyed. If one is not going to bring anything really new or profound to a piece why change it? Great art always finds the audience it merits.