Geoffrey Green: Zambello's San Francisco 'Ring' Cycle

General Discussion about Wagner and The Ring of the Nibelung

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Geoffrey Green: Zambello's San Francisco 'Ring' Cycle

Post by alberich00 » Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:33 pm

Here's Paul Heise's review of "Francesco Zambello's San Francisco 'Ring' Cycle," a talk presented by Geoffrey Green (San Francisco State Univ.) at the Wagner Worldwide 2013 bicentennial symposium sponsored by the Univ. of South Carolina in the winter of 2013:

A new 'Ring' involves balancing between newness and tradition: one must attend to the audience. Regie-Theater appeals to the need for novelty, especially when many different 'Ring' productions are available. This reflects our evolving understanding, with secondary interpretive creators, i.e., exponents of Regie-Theater. This constitutes an inner dream of a culture.

Zambello now directs opera in both San Francisco and Washington, DC. However, the Washington Opera had to stop its production of the 'Ring' midstream due to financial problems.

Zambello's 'Ring' was novel but not disrespectful. It presented an American theme. There was conservative financial underwriting. The setting was the American West during the gold-rush. California was our last chance for reinvention.

Only Bruennhilde, woman, through her self-sacrifice, can restore the natural order.

Zambello must gain new audiences. What is involved is a personal transformation, a secular right to reinvent ourselves. Zambello had a big-tent inclusive approach, but, Green says, Wagner was also inclusive.

Zambello referenced a bunch of films and novels in her 'Ring.' There was immediacy and intimacy thanks to her cultural references. Her American audience both reassured and stimulated her. Her production channeled both Chereau and Schenk. She exhibited a desire to resonate with modern concerns and issues.

In 2010 we had Achim Freyer's 'Ring' production in Los Angeles. The box office response was disappointing. There was much gratuitous innovation in his production. Even the performers protested.

Robert Lepage's 'Ring' production displayed an obsession with a difficult stage device.

Zambello was respectful yet transgressive. Her 'Ring' production provides insight into the 'Ring' performances of our age.


Question: It's not likely that any 'Ring' production will present it as a unified whole in the USA. Could the destruction of nature be a unifying factor? Often, separate parts of the 'Ring' are launched individually. [PH: I don't seem to have recorded Green's answer]

To another question PH failed to record, Green responded: Any director's conception of the 'Ring' is tethered to what the audience can bear and what finances can support.

Question: Lepage had little clue how to move the performers around on the stage, had little sense of the theater.

PH: I regret that I can't make any constructive contribution to these critiques of recent productions which haven't been televised, since I have been trapped at home for nearly 5 years now and have been unable to attend performances of anything, much less the "Ring." However, I did see Lepage's production on PBS, and thought much of it klunky, but some moments musico-dramatically stunning and highly effect, as, for instance, Siegfried's conversation with the Woodbird, which brought me to tears.
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