Wagner is, like few other composers, the subject of controversy, emotions, and ideological battles. And that’s just among those who already proclaim to be fans. In heated discussions over whether Hagen should be more Sprechgesang or rather approached with Bel Canto in mind, small arms fire is a distinct possibility. Stage direction and design are perennially contested.
Perhaps no other composer’s work asks more for constant renewal and innovation than Wagner’s – and among his works none more so than the tetralogy that is Der Ring der Niebelungen. And yet, for no other works will you find more fanatics that ardently condemn even the smallest changes.
Washington will have the opportunity to see its opera-inclined citizens invigorated and split into factions as the Washington National Opera presents the second installment of its “American Ring” this month when the curtain to an all-new Walküre rises on March 24th. Directed by WNO favorite, Francesca Zambello, the Washington Ring Cycle (co-produced with San Francisco, who get second dibs) opened to a cautiously positive, if mixed, reaction with the MississiRheingold last year. Chock-full of ideas and iconography – much of it good, some of it superfluous, a few bits distracting – it promised that this Ring Cycle should be the catalyst for much debate and discussion on the highest level.
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