Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

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And they're off...

October 06, 2006

Das Rhieingold set from Kirov Opera's 2003 Marinsky production. Photo: Marinsky Theater 2003

Tonight was the opening of the Marinsky Festival in Orange County, featuring over two weeks of performances from the combined orchestra, opera, and ballet companies of the Kirov under the guidance of their fearless leader Valery Gergiev. To kick things off, the company presented a revival of the Kirov's 2003 Ring Cycle which they have toured with some success. This was the American premiere of the production, which will headline next year's Lincoln Center Festival in NY.

I usually like to hold my judgment until the end, but this Das Rheingold brings some early thoughts to mind. The good news is that whether or not the whole production is a complete success, it is definitely not a bore. Gergiev, his players, and his stable of Kirov singers are often ragged but what they lack in finesse or sheer lyrical beauty they more than make up for with gusto. This may not be to everyone's taste but it doesn't get dull.

Of course, this production set comes curtesy of long-time Gergiev collaborator, George Tsypin, who brings his scuptural touch to the sets. I like Tsypin's work very much and this is the third major set design of his I have seen this year. (The others were the LA Opera production of Goldenthal's Grendel and Paris National Opera's set for Saariaho's Adriana Mater. ) However his "organic" globular figurines in the context of Tatiana Noginova's bright cartoon-colored costumes did generate a few Wrath of Khan moments that might have better been avoided.

The crowd (which seemed largely imported from LA) was very enthusiastic, and I too will admit not completely dreading the lengthy drive behind the Orange Curtain for the rest of the series. Stay tuned...

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