When the final curtain came down on San Francisco Opera’s newly rolled out Ring Cycle, a great sigh (or shall we say “heave”) of relief came from all corners of the Opera House: From the Administrative Office Suites, across to the Media Studio, through the Public Relations wing, right down to the Rehearsal Department, and spilling onto the stage and into the orchestra pit; one could almost feel the deliverance!
It finally happened; it threatened, it intimidated, it frustrated; but it came and went…it went out in triumph, to be sure, but it is now finally over and everyone feels the better for it. Taming a Ring Cycle (Richard Wagner’s operatic tetralogy) is no small feat; it is the operatic/musical/theatrical equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest and then still having to grasp for the brass ring (pardon the pun) after you reach the top–IF you reach the top. But it’s not just as simple as climbling it “just because it’s there”. It is a multi-year, multi-faceted, multi-dimensional challenge that only the truly obsessed can appreciate or even explain…right down to the audiences that attend this week-long, sense-obliterating fete.
I have often said that one should attend a professional (or amateur) basketball, football, baseball, and soccer game at least once in their lifetime. The same goes for the ballet, symphony, opera, theater, or other such ‘artistic’ rendering. Museums are a must, as are national parks, as well as the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. But a Ring Cycle??? Well, that is a different matter; and only the bravest (or craziest) need apply!!!
When I was finished with this endeavor, I just couldn’t wait to fly home and visit my family in Ohio–I went to see my parents (both in their 80’s) and then took them to see my brother (and his new boat) and my nieces in Charlotte, NC; I attended a Family Reunion/50th Wedding Anniversary, then went to see my sister whom I had not seen since I accepted induction into our High School Hall of Fame early last fall. I also spent July 4th with my life-long friend Richard before subsequently flying to Paris with my girlfriend for several days of winding down, and to visit again that magnificent city where I lived (on and off) for several years in a row. I now sit in the Red Carpet Club at San Francisco International Airport waiting to fly down to Sydney, Australia…just in time to beat the incredible heat wave that greeted me on my return from France (where I was also gratified to brush up on my French language skills).
Well, that’s a lot of varied stimuli, but I STILL cannot stop thinking about that damned Ring Cycle–that wonderfully infectious Ring Cycle–I hear the music constantly in my head, I see the set, think about my staging, review the long finished singing that still rings in my ears, etc, etc, etc. This type of experience is hard to shake, but I think it is best that I do so. For I have some summer left to enjoy now, some swimming and cycling to do, and a few more weeks off before I must start rehearsing again. But even as I relish the recent success of this most taxing of musical/theatrical ventures; and yes, read and re-read the many fine reviews I received for my efforts (see Review Page of this website), I must remind myself that for all intents and purposes:
It’s all history now!