Here is my first ever opera review, of L.A. Opera’s “Das Rheingold” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the first segment in Wagner's Ring Cycle, which opened on Saturday night.
Note: the times listed below are wild approximations.
6:32 PM – My date and I start out from Westwood to Downtown Los Angeles. On Google maps, the 10 has red traffic lines all over it, so we take Olympic instead.
6:36 – Using my Treo, I find a synopsis of the opera on the Met’s website and my date begins to read it.
6:47 – My date reads, “Loge, who originated the contract with the giants…” I butt in: “And Loge is now re-negotiating the deal with the giants?” My date: “Yeah.” Me: “So Loge is the Jew?”
7:02 – I tell my date that the show is 2 hours and 45 minutes with no intermission.
7:10 – We stop at a Koreatown gas station convenience store and buy Powerbars and Gummi Savers.
7:24 – We see a sign in the lobby that says the opera is 2 hours and 45 minutes with no intermission, so “please plan accordingly.”
7:26 – Almost all the urinals in the men’s room are filled.
7:29 – There is a line in the women’s restroom. This apparently never happens. Pre-show lines at women’s restrooms are a myth. There are only lines at intermission.
7:33 – I start eating my chocolate Powerbar.
7:35 – The music starts. I hold my Powerbar uncomfortably.
7:43 – Eating my Powerbar causes the wrapper to make a big crinkling sound. I finish what I can and discard the rest under my seat.
7:44 – On stage right, at the front corner of the stage, an enormous eye lights up. Then it goes dark again for two hours.
7:52 – Wo-tan is trying to get out of his agreement to give his sister-in-law to the giants who built his palace. It reminds me of elementary school when my friend Matt used to renege on a bet by claiming he actually promised a million doll hairs.
8:02 – Loge is described as “cunning.”
8:04 – It’s half an hour into the show and the scrim in front of the stage — the transparent screen that can have projections projected onto it – is still there.
8:10 – Each character seems to have two actors. And three costumes. And four hands. One of Wo-tan’s costumes flew off by itself somewhere.
8:17 – In the middle of the stage is an enormous, tilted disc that the actors walk on top of. What are those ropes doing on the disc? Someone might trip over them.
8:28 – Loge appears as devil, with horns and four hands.
8:31 – Sculptures of birds sit onstage off to the side and aren’t being lit.
8:38 – Oh, the ropes are there to pull up the floor and reveal the underworld beneath.
8:42 – The world’s biggest pimp costume appears stage right.
8:46 – The people in the underworld are being whipped by light sabers.
8:55 –We break into the Gummi Savers.
8:58 – Alberich the gnome is oddly obstructed by the bird sculptures.
9:11 – I slip off my shoes.
9:19 – The other gnome shakes his butt at the audience.
9:20 – The floor goes down by itself, presumably controlled by a motor. Why did we need the ropes?
9:37 – The scrim in front of the stage is still down.
9:43 – The giants are complaining that the gold they are getting from Wo-tan in place of Freia is not enough because they can see Freia through the pile of gold. I say to my date: The pile of gold is bigger then Freia and doesn’t appear to have any obvious holes in it, so what are they fussing about? And if Freia is standing right next to the pile of gold, why do they need a huge ruler to figure out which is taller?
9:44 – We get shushed by the people in front of us.
9:53 – Two enormous hands dance around the stage.
9:59 – The $32 million production is still being shielded by a scrim.
10:01 – The plane that’s been sitting in the sky the whole show starts to move. The woman behind me whispers, “That actor’s been in that plane for 2 hours!” I don’t think there’s actually an actor in there.
10:10 – The eye lights up again.
10:20 – The show ends. The scrim has stayed down the entire time, the first time I’ve ever seen that happen. I make it through without drinking water and without going to the bathroom.
10:22 – The cast comes out for the curtain call. Alberich’s actual head is almost as enormous as the giant mask he was wearing.
10:25 –The conductor joins the cast onstage.
10:26 – A video of the orchestra is projected onto the scrim at the front of the stage. It’s by far the most interesting projection of the night.
10:28 – The director and his design team come out for the curtain call. People boo.
10:29 – We escape alive.
2 PM the next day – The internet says that Loge is apparently not a Jew. But Alberich might be. My Ring Cycle education has begun...