Thursday, April 27, 2017

Wagner's Ring: Creative Platypus

This year marks the completion of Houston Grand Opera's staging of the complete Ring Cycle by Richard Wagner. My wife and I have been able to attend all four operas and have witnessed Wagner's retelling of the creation and destruction of the Nordic World. I haven't seen anything like it.

The La Fura Dels Baus staging HGO used seemed to swirl the Volsungsaga with The Orestiea, Final Fantasy, Mad Max: Fury RoadThe Wasteland, The Dry Salvages and The Abolition of Man. It was a heady cocktail that appeared to leave those over forty cold while it made the twenty-somethings I know weep with rapture. So you know where I fit in, I bought the boxed set on DVD.

Wagner's work is a paean to the power of Nature and a warning to those who would use power over Nature to gain power over others. It's a timely message for the city of Houston, a place that worships unbridled wealth, revels in the wholesale destruction of the natural world, builds its low-cost of living on the backs of undocumented workers, and is the hub of human trafficking in the United States. Yet the city also has a dynamic energy I haven't found anywhere else. Here, the gods and heroes are still young and a rainbow bridge rises up through the Woodlands to a Valhalla that is still under construction. There is so much good here, so much potential, if only they can heed Wagner's warning in time. If not, then it will collapse in blood and fire, and I will not blame those in Los Angeles and Greenwich who shake their heads and say "we could have told you so".

Even the Platypus occasionally speaks an uncomfortable truth.

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