The Met’s new Ring production

The good news: it’s high-tech, not high-concept.

The Times mostly likes it.

I love the urbane manner in which this city of Jews loves this opera cycle which at its core is deeply anti-Semitic. Obviously the evil Nibelungen represent the Jews. But the Ring transcends itself.

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Dean Ericson writes:

You wrote:

“Obviously the evil Nibelungen represent the Jews.”

This fellow AC Douglas (who reminds me of you in some ways) makes, to my mind, a persuasive case for there not being explicit or deliberately coded anti-Semitism in Wagner’s operas:

Can one find anti-Semitic overtones and references in the text and characterizations in Die Meistersinger, or in any other of Wagner’s operas, for that matter? If one is so disposed, one most assuredly can. One can find pretty much anything one is looking for in Wagner’s stage works, an ineluctable consequence of their at-bottom archetypal nature. Archetypes are essentially empty matrices that can be filled-in and fleshed-out in their particulars in multiple ways and at multiple levels by the filler-in-ers and flesher-out-ers, and so if one is determined to find anti-Semitic content in the filling-in and fleshing-out, one can be absolutely assured of not being disappointed. That archetypal quality is not a flaw in Wagner’s stage works but their very genius, and a principal source of their timelessness, universality, and astonishing resonant power.

So an explanation for New York Jews loving the Ring may be that, while one may see in it anti-Semitism, that is not the only, or even necessary, thing to be found.

A concern I have with this new Met production is the apparently heavy reliance on some gigantic gizmo, a spectacular contraption, to carry the staging for all four Ring productions. Is that a brilliant coup-de-theatre? or, in the end, a laborious bore? I once saw a Tristan and Isolde where the singers clambered over a giant statue of a fallen angel for three acts. It got old. I’m hoping to see it for myself. A good Ring is a Great Thing.

LA replies:

I didn’t mean to suggest that the Jewish symbolism of the Nibelungen is overwhelming and unavoidable. I regret if I gave that impression. I meant that the connection, the association to the Jews, is obviously there, as part of the total picture. At the same time, there is nothing in the opera that compels the audience to think of the Nibelungen as coded symbols of Jews.

September 29

LA writes:

Spencer Warren informs me that the only other opera of the four in the Ring cycle being performed this season is Die Walkure in the spring. The entire new cycle will be done in spring 2012.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 28, 2010 08:45 AM | Send

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