Thursday, June 07, 2012

LA Opera's Ring Festival LA - two years later

It's been two years since I devoted Mixed Meters to the subject of Ring Festival Los Angeles.  Hardly anyone seemed to notice but I learned a lot about myself.

I'd like to stay in the top Google search results for the term "Ring Festival LA".  To that end an occasional extra post on the subject couldn't hurt - like once a year - because someone might still notice.

Two years later there doesn't seem to be much more to say about the subject.  Los Angeles has moved on from its semi-close encounter with Richard Wagner's endless magnum opus, the Ring of the Nibelungs.

In the last year Los Angeles Opera has begun paying back the $14 million loan which I and my fellow Los Angeles County residents cosigned (via our elected representativs) when the ring cycle production soared WAY over budget.  We in the 99% don't get the interest from the payback - a private bank gets all the profit.

Here's a cute cartoon which the New Yorker ran late last year.

There is Ring Festival LA news of a sort from Europe.  It appears that Achim Freyer, artistic doyen of LA's comic book Ring production, one which many Ringnuts hated, is directing another Ring cycle in a similar style (to judge from the pictures) in the German city of Mannheim.  The opera company over there is certainly not touting the Los Angeles connection.  Why should they?  Mannheim first became a world-class capital of music more than a quarter millenium ago well before the first Spanish mission was ever built in Southern California.

You can read about the Mannheim Achim Freyer production in a pdf document entitled The New Mannheim Ring.  Statements from German politicians remind me of our own politicos quoted in LA Opera's early press releases.

Mannheim has plans to release a DVD of their production.  Had the LA Opera gone into a bit more debt to fund documentation of their accomplishment the lasting benefits of the Los Angeles Achim Freyer Ring might have increased.  That was an opportunity lost, in my opinion.  I'm sure our county Supervisors would have been glad to add an extra 3 or 4 mil to their loan guarantee to fund a DVD.  All the Opera had to do was ask.

Finally, there's a recent development in the unofficial Israeli ban on performances of the music of Wagner.  Here's an article from the newspaper Haaretz entitled Tel Aviv University cancels Wagner concert after angry protests.  (The Guardian has this article on the subject.)

Tel Aviv University says that the Israel Wagner Society booked their concert hall without mentioning what was on the program.  One might wonder what else the "Israel Wagner Society" might perform if not Wagner.  Mendelssohn?  Somehow the news got out.  Haaretz quotes a spokesman for the University
You deliberately concealed this basic fact from us...We received angry protests calling to call off the controversial event...[which] would deeply offend the Israeli public in general and Holocaust survivors in particular.
Uri Chanoch, described as deputy chairman of the Holocaust Survivors Center (I can't find any information about that group), is quoted
This is emotional torture for Holocaust survivors and the wider public in the state of Israel. 
Wagner provided inspiration for the Nazis, and there is a direct link between him and the Holocaust. The fact that Wagner's music will be played in public and the fact that the concert was being advertised, are hurtful and damaging.
Even now Jewish survivors of World War II associate Wagner's music with the persecution and destruction they endured under the Nazis.  Their emotions inform my belief that we must stay aware of how Richard Wagner's operas and antisemitism inspired Hitler towards execrable discrimination and mass murder.

Someday soon there will be no more surviving Holocaust survivors.  Later generations will need to remember on our own how the Nazis used Wagner.  The Nazis proved that music can serve evil in our modern world.  If such massive misuse of music happened once it could happen again in another place and another time using someone else's music.

By remembering Hitler when we perform Wagner, we give ourselves the best chance for preventing recurrences of such despicable and immoral behavior.

Here's an article about the formation of the Israel Wagner Society.

The Mixed Meters post LA Opera's ring Festival LA - one year later includes a list of all Wagner, Hitler and Ring Festival related posts.

Cartoons by Kaamran Hafeez

Still Angry Two Years Later Tags: . . . . . . . . .

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