"With Los Angeles in the grips of Ring Festival LA fever launched by the L.A. Opera's presentation of Richard Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen..." - so began an LA Times article last week about Ring Festival LA offerings. And, indeed, the fever is not abating.
A wide array of Ring Festival events that offer something for every taste and interest are taking place around town. LA Opera has partnered with three of Los Angeles' premier art institutions-Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), The Huntington Library and J. Paul Getty Museum-to develop a series of all-day seminars on Wagner's Ring. And the focus of each seminar is unique to its location. LA Opera's extraordinarily articulate and engaging music director, James Conlon, will be a panelist for all three events. All the seminars feature a box lunch and admission to the galleries.
In planning Ring Festival LA and meeting with potential partners, it was striking to find out about the hidden treasures that LA's museums own in their permanent collections. And, happily, Ring Festival LA provides a means by which the public can experience some of these rich resources.
Kaiser Wilhelm's personally autographed copy of a book entitled Die Nibelungen dem Deutschen Volke will be on display as part of LACMA's exhibit Myths, Legends, and Cultural Renewal. The museum's seminar "Mythic Legends and Wagnerian Fables," inspired by that exhibit will delve into the heroic mythologies that figure prominently throughout Wagner's Ring (June 5).
You may not know that The Huntington Library holds a rare first edition of George Bernard Shaw's famous work The Perfect Wagnerite. The Huntington's seminar "Wagner, His World and His Critics" will examine how with work was viewed by critics who were his contemporaries (June 9). The world-famous Wagner expert from Kings College London John Deathridge (author of the critically acclaimed Wagner Beyond Good and Evil) will be a panelist at both the LACMA and Huntington seminars.
The J. Paul Getty Museum's seminar will take place at The Getty Villa (June 19). Appropriate to the Villa's focus on the arts and culture of ancient Greece and Rome, the event will examine "Wagner's Mythology: Roots and Inspiration." The seminar includes a tour of the Villa's wonderful antiquities collection. A musical performance will conclude the day.
Two events happening this weekend deserve special attention. The Griffith Observatory will be celebrating its 75th birthday with a gala titled "Cosmic Conjunction 2010: Diamond Nights * Northern Lights" (May 15). This event will unveil the world premiere of Griffith Observatory's contribution to Ring Festival LA: "Light of the Valkyries," a stunning planetarium light show with Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" as the soundtrack. The show explores the connection between astronomy and the arts. It opens to the public the following Tuesday (May 18).
The Museum of Latin America Art in Long Beach has joined forces with the Hispanics for LA Opera to present an unusual program called "Opera, Zarzuela, and Wagner," featuring young singers from the LA Opera Domingo-Thornton Young Artists program (May 18).
The centerpiece of Ring Festival LA is LA Opera's first-ever presentation of Wagner's Ring cycle. The Opera is now selling individual tickets to each of the four operas. The first cycle begins May 29. To read about all the Ring Festival LA events coming up, go to the dedicated website or sign up to receive notices by email. I encourage you to experience all things Ring in the coming weeks.