Last night PBS presented Wagner's Dream, a documentary by Susan Froemke about Robert Lepage's new production of Richard Wagner's Ring cycle for the Metropolitan Opera.
I've seen all four operas over the past two seasons and very much enjoyed Lepage's technical wizardry and pioneering vision. It was courageous of him to even conceive of such a high-tech, futuristic production for the conservative Wagnerian audience at the Met.
Predictably, critical reaction was hostile, particularly Anthony Tommasini's dismissive review for the New York Times. But this didn't affect my enjoyment of the Ring at all. Over the years I've come to realize anyway that music critics don't really have the qualifications to assess theatrical innovation in a knowledgeable manner. Let's just leave it at that.
Wagner's Dream features Lepage and his team conceiving and working out the various problems of this hugely expensive production, particularly the logistics of the main setpiece consisting of oscillating planks with digital projections.
Deborah Voigt, the most affecting Brünnhilde that I've ever seen in a live performance, is featured in extended interviews, and it was fascinating to watch her and Lepage negotiate some of the trickier aspects of the blocking and direction. I've also never seen the backstage of the Met before and was fascinated by scene behind the scene.
PBS will be broadcasting the entire Ring starting with Das Rheingold this evening, Die Walküre tomorrow, Siegfried on Thursday, and Götterdämmerung on Friday. The operas, including Wagner's Dream, are also available on DVD at the Met Opera Shop. I'm glad that this visionary production is finally getting a wider audience.