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Subject: Re: Premature Criticism at the Times
From: paolo <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:paolo <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 24 Jun 2003 11:31:33 -0400
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Once my blood cooled down to 98.6F, I had to sit back and laugh at John
Rockwell's Sunday piece of concern on the goings on at Bayreuth.  I then re-
read the article and where I initially saw Rockwell as raging against the
current directorial decisions, I've settled into thinking here's merely
expressing confusion, concern; a certain perplexity that is probably not
unshared by many others.  Obviously, neither James nor I share that
concern.

Like James, I think von Trier to be a most exciting choice for the Ring.
(I might even try to get myself to Bayreuth in the next few years to see
his staging.)  Breaking the Waves is one of the most stunning films of the
last decade.  I've watched it at least a dozen times and my mouth falls
open with every viewing, and tears flow easily by its end.  von Trier pulls
out every stop giving us a visually captivating, brilliantly told tale
extracting performances from his actors that are operatic in scope.  Dancer
in the Dark, while perhaps more problematic a film, is no less arresting
than was "Waves" and von Trier shows a unique, highly individual style
which feels more akin to theatre than it does cinema, even though his use
of camera and great sweeping styles, he seems to be "an actors'
director."    His ability to combine comic elements (even in the most
uncomic situations) with pathos and beauty, his penchant for imagery and
his use of everything in his powers to push the story ahead is exactly what
we need for Wagner.  I cannot see how this visionary filmmaker will fail to
come up with something which, at minimum, will be magical for Bayreuth.

Mr. Rockwell makes mention of Chereau's Ring being the last Bayreuth
staging to generate worldwide excitement.  Well, von Trier may be just the
man to do that again.  Remember, the choice of Chereau was also
controversial, and when new, his Ring was booed and loathed, then
eventually bravoed and loved.  The last Ring by Jurgen Flimm, while
certainly interesting sounding, seemed to want to tell the tale in too
contemporary terms; too close to our own time.  While on paper the idea
would lead one to believe this style would make the Ring more relevant to
contemporary audiences, I'm prone to disagree.  When you've got stories
about gods, giants, Rhinemaidens, magic helmets and flying horses, its
probably a good idea to actually acknowledge these mythical elements and
easier for compel audiences into believing them when there is some removal
of overfamiliarity.  Probably not a bad idea to place the action in a time
(or a world) where people might actually have believed in gods, giants,
Rhinemaidens, magic helmets and flying horses.

As to Mr. Rockwell's dismissal of Schlingensief for Parsifal, I also
disagree. Regardless of what Schlingensief may have said about Wagner's
music in 1998 or 1999 (not caring for it), well a lot can change in the
mind of an artist between the ages of 38 and 42.  Trust me.  Rockwell
writes of Schlingensief ". . . he has a prominently placed installation at
the Venice Biennale, 'the Church of Fear,' which seeks to provide solace
for those reeling from the angst and terror of today's world."  If you ask
me, it sounds like Parsifal may be in the perfect hands.  The fact that
Schlingensief is "out to galvanize, disturb and entertain" is frosting on
the cake when it comes to opera.  Maybe he'll shake some things up.  I
certainly hope so!

p.

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