Met Opera shows high-tech effects for Das Rheingold

Tue Sep 28, 2010 2:22pm EDT
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By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - It's the most anticipated new production at New York's Metropolitan Opera in years, but this time the eyes are on the high-tech scenery rather than the world-class singers.

The $15 million production of Wagner's "Das Rheingold, that will span out into a full cycle of Wagner's "Ring" operas over several years, was met with cheers and standing applause coupled with a few scattered boos at a gala opening on Monday.

Seen as part of the Met's bid to attract a broader and younger audience, the opera's technical centerpiece is a rack of 24 joined tall fiberglass planks which can twist and spin over 360 degrees, and rise and fall as the story beckons.

The production began with three Rhine maidens hoisted high into the air by suspension cables off the planks, which were constantly bathed in changing, intricately-designed projections and lighting.

Top Canadian theater director Robert Lepage, who has worked on such mass appeal productions as Cirque du Soleil, told Reuters that Rheingold's special effects were delicately balanced so as to not take away from the singing.

"People will recognize an aesthetic that is very close to the early productions of Wagner, and at the same time ground-breaking technology and ahead of the curve avant-garde vocabularies," he said.

The much-hyped technical wizardry also includes video images of pebbles that interacted with the singers on stage, moving when they moved.

"Technology allows images, scenic images to be in sync with what it is that is going on stage," Lepage said before quipping, "but it's not the "Avatar" of opera, it's not that simple."   Continued...