Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Busy Platypus and Das Rheingold (In Brief)

April is the cruelest month around here -but May brings graduation.  In the meantime, we've had school plays and parent education nights.  Banquets, theses, and recitals are all on their way.

In the midst of this hustle and bustle, we did find time last weekend to see Houston Grand Opera's production of Wagner's Das Rheingold.  It was the first Wagner piece I've seen and I have never experienced anything like it.  The Spanish company that put together the production pulled out all the stops and made a show that ran two-and-a-half-hours without intermission seem short.  The avant-guard staging with strong elements of cyber-punk left me with the feel that all the best parts of Final Fantasy VI and VII had suddenly been apotheosed.  And while we're on the topic of pop-entertainment, I'll add that like Jackson's ring cycle, I have to wait a whole year for the next installment.  Pop-culture aside, I was particularly impressed how the costumes, staging, and set design were able to underscore the themes of class, exploitation, environmentalism, and technology that dominate Wagner's story.  The disturbing images of factories destroying golden babies and fortresses made of human beings spoke loud and clear in a way that horned-helmets don't these days.  That's good, because given Houston's history with race, class, Big Oil, and human trafficking, Wagner's got some things the city needs to hear.   

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