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Subject: Ring cycles of the not too distant modernist past
From: David H Spence <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:David H Spence <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 21 Nov 2012 15:30:06 -0500
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I mostly here wish to inquire about two producers in particular - Goetz
Friedrich, who produced the Ring for both Convent Garden and Deutsche Oper
Berlin and Nikolaus Lehnhoff who did so for both San Francisco Opera and
Bavarian State Opera in Munich.

Was Lehnhoff a protege of both Friedrich and Wieland Wagner or just of
Wieland?  When you read about the Walter Felsenstein class or school of
production, stage direction, you read that at the Komische Oper Berlin, he
likely insisted on a fairly literal staging interpretation of work in
question.  And yet his class, his proteges picked up quite rapidly on a
number of Brechtian ideas, deconstructionism to derive from all that.

Friedrich first presumably staged the Ring in London in, around 1973, 1974,
then to build upon what abstraction he likely applied by having all the
action take place in a broad tunnel, a 'time tunnel' for all four dramas,
once Friedrich moved on to Berlin to produce the Ring there.  The tunnel was
inspired by the example of the Washington DC subway.

Lehnhoff in San Francisco (1982-85) seems to have started out by providing
through his ornate, elegant set design the Ring a German Romantic flair or
essence thereof.  Reports came out that once it was revived again in 1990, 
that in addition to what modernist stage direction touches he may have
picked up from either Chereau or Friedrich before him, he may have turned
the Ring somewhat more on its dark side.  Andrei Serban, either at this
revival or later on, may have taken over in terms of stage direction toward
rendering Wagner's Ring more up-to-date - or it may have been all or mostly
Lehnhoff's idea.  Year previous to San Francisco's second revival in 1990,
Lehnhoff opened a new production of again the Ring in Munich.

It would be pleasant to know too what a Wernicke or Ronconi production of
the Ring might have been like, one instance with Wernicke with Mehta
conducting in Munich, that David Alden had to replace Wernicke due to
Wernicke's relatively sudden passing away (in 2002?).  As an aside, if there
might be a way to bring back to life presumably from Frankfurt Ruth
Berghaus's ideas on staging the Ring, this would seem like a really worthy
endeavor, but now I am probably asking too much.  I'll wait 'til somebody
replies here to comment upon what contrast one is to make between how Wagner
was produced in the 1970's and one to two decades ahead of them and what we
get served today.

Thanks in advance for any comments, replies.


David H Spence

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