Wagner festival controversy in L.A.

Posted on: July 16, 2009

“The worlds of opera and local politics collided this week over Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle, re-igniting a fierce debate about the brilliant German composer known for his marvelous music and repugnant racism,” writes David Ng in today’s (7/16) Los Angeles Times. At issue is the city’s 2010 Ring Festival Los Angeles, with the Los Angeles Opera’s new Achim Freyer production of Wagner’s four-opera cycle at its center. Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich “emphasized Wagner’s well-known anti-Semitic views and said that the festival would be ‘an affront to those who have suffered or have been impacted by the horrors’ of the Nazis. … Antonovich’s action prompted vehement responses on both sides of the debate. Some accused L.A. Opera and other arts institutions involved with the festival of glorifying a racist while others labeled the supervisor’s suggested changes a form of censorship. … James Conlon, L.A. Opera’s music director, has been one of the company’s biggest champions of Wagner, but he has also devoted considerable efforts to launching the Recovered Voices series, dedicated to resurrecting operas that were suppressed during the Nazi regime.” Los Angeles Philharmonic President Deborah Borda describes Wagner’s Ring cycle in the article as “a stunning work of art” that “contains positive humanistic themes. It has been performed for well over a hundred years. If something is truly evil art, it wouldn’t have lasted this long.”

Posted July 16, 2009