By Milan's early Sunday hours, OC will be fully-immersed in Guy Cassiers' complete Wagner Ring Cycle at Teatro alla Scala, eighteen hours (depending on Barenboim's baton) in (mostly) six-hour meals, which makes us feel like rock stars (like we're on Rihanna's whirlwind 777 Tour) but in those silent, midnight hours, we suspect that we'll feel more like Sergeant Hartman's freshly graduated Full Metal Jacket platoon: "Today, you people are no longer maggots. Today, you've lived through a weeklong Wagner Ring cycle. You're part of a brotherhood. From now on until the day you die, wherever you are, every Wagnerian is your brother..."
Wagner's opus of badly mannered heroes, mostly insane, who make war, not love, kicked off last night at La Scala in its first 2012-13 season Ring-in-a-Week with 2.5 hours of pure Cassiers Das Rheingold madness, which we live tweeted with Matteo Bordone and Teatro alla Scala full of exclusive, backstage photos and interviews.
Cassiers' prologue was leached of Norse mythology and gratuitous visuals -- more gold tallied on a random La Scala patron than onstage nor a rainbow in sight -- as a compact, water-drenched, moldy realm of Nibelungs. It was an intermission-stricken night of solid singing by a well-meshed ensemble and Barenboim's non-interpretation (which isn't a criticism, we actually think it's the best approach to counter the highly-stylized, semi-freddo Cassiers production) of muddy, rich, well-mannered phrasing that allowed him passage into La Scala's books among maestri who've formerly beat off uncut cycles: Ettore Panizza in 1927/28 & 1931, Siegfried Wagner in 1930, Krauss in 1938, von Hösslin in 1943, Furtwängler in 1949/50 and Cluytens in 1962-63 along with Scala's Wagnerians heretofore legacy like Toscanini, de Sabata and Karajan.
Tonight, the live-tweeting saga continues with Die Walküre as the twins and Valkyries gambol illuminated sets. OC knows what she's in for -- we were at La Scala three years ago for its controversial premiere, which opened the Milanese theater's new season, full review here --- a thorny moment on Italy's fragile cultural funding timeline and now sadly, harbinger of the present famine.
Stay tuned for Siegfriend on Thursday and Götterdämmerung on Saturday. If you're in Milan this month, La Scala hosts an encore week: Das Rheingold on the 24th, Die Walküre on the 25th, Siegfried on the 27th and Götterdämmerung on the 29th. With this ring, I thee Wagner.