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All Right, Mr. DeMille, Ready for the Close-Up

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After a long countdown that began with the launch of Ring Festival LA at LACMA on April 15, Los Angeles truly becomes "Bayreuth by the Beach" on Memorial Day weekend with the opening of the first of three cycles of The Ring by Richard Wagner at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. This eagerly anticipated landmark event and centerpiece of Ring Festival LA continues through June 26.

As I write this, celebrity chef Joachim Splichal is busy transforming the Music Center Plaza into a traditional Bavarian Biergarten. Ring-goers will be able to enjoy al fresco feasting on a variety of German sausages, specialties and imported beers before and after Ring performances and during intermissions. If you would prefer Chef Splichal's signature California cuisine, you can order a boxed supper online, and it will be waiting for you when you get to the Music Center.

The Opera League of Los Angeles is setting up shop on the Music Center Plaza with its Ring Cycle Concierge Service. Opera League volunteers will be on hand for all Ring performances, providing out-of-town Ring-goers with everything they need to know about the City of Angels - from maps and travel directions, to advice on places to go, what to see, and fun things to do. Ring Festival LA street banners, depicting LA's skyline and sporting the slogan "Celebrate the Arts, LA style," border all sides of the Music Center, contributing to the festive atmosphere on Bunker Hill. (See photo here.)

A few last minute reminders to help enhance your Ring experience. LA Opera sends out "Prelude" emails with helpful information and links to ticket holders. If you want to bone up before each Ring opera, you can listen to James Conlon's insightful pre-opera Ring talks, which are all available online. You might also enjoy reviewing the plot of the Ring Anna-Russell-style via YouTube. The famous British comedienne manages to summarize and lampoon the plot lines of the 19-hour-long Ring Cycle in a mere 30 minutes.

If you are interested in souvenirs of your Ring experience, the LA Opera Shop in the lobby will have an abundance of Ring-related items for sale. The LA Opera has just produced a beautiful, collectible souvenir book memorializing Ring Festival LA. It focuses on the work of our many partners and the amazing breadth of the Festival. It can be purchased at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for just $15. Please be sure to buy one for yourself or as a Father's Day gift before they are all gone.

KUSC's program featuring LA Opera On-Air, which began a few weeks ago, will be broadcasting all the Ring operas on Saturday mornings at 10 a.m. You can hear each opera in turn over four weeks, and you will enjoy the special intermission features: Das Rheingold (May 29), Die Walküre (June 5), Siegfried (June 12), and Götterdämmerung (June 19).

Considering that Achim Freyer, the designer and director of LA Opera's Ring production, is a gifted painter, it is only fitting that Ring Festival LA features some striking visual arts events you won't want to miss. ACE Gallery will present "Light Shadows and Ring Processions" (June 19 - August 14), an exhibition of Freyer's new paintings and textile sculptures created during the artist's residence in Los Angeles, and influenced by his immersion in Richard Wagner's Ring. There will be a reception honoring Achim Freyer on the opening night of the exhibition (June 19).

Ruth Bachofner Gallery at Bergamot Station Arts Center in Santa Monica celebrates the amazing visual imagery of Achim Freyer's Ring production as captured by the photographer Monika Rittershaus. This prominent theater photographer, who has collaborated with many of the world's leading directors, is the exclusive photographer for LA Opera's Ring, and has been documenting the work of Achim Freyer since 1989. "Monika Rittershaus: LA Ring in Photographs" opens June 5 with a reception featuring a talk by Achim Freyer, and the exhibit continues through July 17.

The artist-members of the California Art Club (founded in 1909) have been celebrating the Club's Centennial by creating paintings and sculpture inspired by the myth and magic of Wagner's Ring operas. Taking a page from the French impressionists, these intrepid Southland artists work outside on location - en plein air - taking advantage of the glorious Southern California sunshine. The Club has been staging "paint out" events for the past year around Los Angeles, and the artistic harvest has been bountiful. Paintings from the Ring paint-outs are on exhibit at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels (through July 16), the Fine Arts Building downtown (through June 4), Pasadena Museum of California Art (June 13 - July 3).

As we come to the mid-point of Ring Festival LA and the Ring Cycle performances begin at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, I would just like to mention that there are still many fine Festival events coming up. You will want to bookmark the Ring Festival LA website RingFestivalLA.com to be able to take advantage of all the cultural excitement yet to come.