(I write this with that caveat that I haven't thought about it very much or very deeply.)
Is there such a thing as too many productions of the Ring? Look, I'm actually kind of a big Wagner fan. I'll be going to NYC to see at least one of the LePage productions, and watching the rest at my local cineplex. I own multiple video and audio recordings. I talk a little bit about the 1952 Furtwängler recording of Tristan in my book project. Heck, I took a graduate seminar just on the Ring! And so when I saw that Houston was planning to do a Ring cycle, my instinct was to begin musing about my whereabouts in 2014 and whether a trip through Texas could be involved.
But you know...these productions are expensive. Like, really expensive. The Melbourne end of things for the HGO version is estimated at $15 million, which seems low. The NY Met version has had estimates from $17 to $40 million, and I have to believe that if it involved refabricating the stage to support the enormous circus stage machinery, the money's got to come in on the high end of that. The money is all supposedly coming from a $30 million donation from the Ziff family, but think about how much great opera could be produced with $30 million! It reminds me a little of those people who donate $100 million to the arts Yale or Princeton—that's philanthropy to glory yourself, not to actually help the arts.
It's not that I don't think there should be new productions of the Ring; every generation should have its own Ring to argue about. And I'm okay with Wagner costing more to produce than your average opera. And new Ring productions should come from new and interesting places and not just NYC and Seattle.
But within about five years we've had what, the Met, San Francisco, LA, Houston...I dunno, it seems like a lot of the American operatic stage and the money behind it is going to be occupied with Wagner for the foreseeable future. And as much as I like him, there's a lot else out there I'd also like to see!
2 weeks ago