The highly anticipated debut of Scala's new "Ring" won't happen tomorrow, because of the much-discussed strike (one of many that plague Italian opera houses). And it's probably a good thing.
It's obviously unfair to review a general rehearsal, and Opera Chic won't do that (even if the beauty of the Internet means not only that everybody's a critic but that you can review -- via YouTube -- a cellphone video of a Jumbotron broadcast in a public square and still be taken seriously by some). But last night's open-to-the-public general rehearsal of the Guy Cassiers-directed, Daniel Barenboim-conducted Rheingold that will eventually open, with some luck, on Sunday, was somewhat troubling.
Rene Pape (Wotan) didn't sound bad at all, the conductor subjected Wagner to the trademark Barenboim manic-depressive treatment. But the staging looked somewhat under-rehearsed. A couple more days won't hurt at all, especially because Johannes Martin Kränzle (Alberich) is indisposed and last night was replaced during the general rehearsal by Jochen Schmeckenbecher (who didn't know the staging at all, so he sang from the sidelines while one of Cassiers assistants acted the part).
The problem here is that everybody says the Ring at la Scala suffers from a classic case of bad luck -- the last complete production of the Wagner monstah happened in 1963 under Andrè Cluytens. The Ronconi-Sawallisch Ring wasn't completed, and Riccardo Muti's plans were sunk by a series of unlucky circumstances back in the 1990s. Not to mention that Cassiers replaces GM Lissner's original choice, Klaus Michael Grüber, who passed away two years ago.
La maledizione! (O.K., that's Verdi, but whatever)
The rest of the Ring should debut at la Scala according to this schedule: "Die Walküre" will open the 2010-2011 season on Dec 7, "Siegfried" will open in October 2012, "Götterdämmerung" in May 2013. 2013 will also see performances of the entire "Ring", Wotan willing.