James Conlon at WSNC
March 14, 2009
* Notes *
James Conlon, the Music Director of Los Angeles Opera, and Dr. Katherine Syer gave talks at the Wagner Society of Northern California today in San Francisco. Conlon spoke on how he came to love classical music and Wagner, and how he decided to become a conductor a young age. We heard that the two conditions of accepting the position in LA was contingent upon being able to conduct both music by Wagner and composers suppressed by the Nazis. He also assured the audience that unless the Dorothy Chandler falls apart, the Ring Cycle will take place in Los Angeles. Much of his talk emphasized the primacy of music in opera, and how the ascendancy of the stage director can put this in jeopardy.
Syer spoke on the many Ring Cycles that have been put on in the last decade. She discussed the use of masks and puppets, then turned our attention to uses of advanced technology, such as live camera feeds and the like. She showed clips of a production staged in Mexico City, in which almost all the singers wore masks. The performance took place behind a scrim, which had the image of a ring on it to frame the action. The other production that was focused on came from Vlaamse Opera, which uses video cameras and many television screens.
* Tattling *
James Conlon has sense of humor, he was amused by the introduction he was given, and denied that he likes oreos, as the Wikipedia article on him has claimed. He had a rather difficult time leaving, as many people stopped to talk to him on his way to the door.
The people giggled at a particular staging shown and described to us by Dr. Syer. She jokingly admonished that it was "a very serious moment," and someone in the audience muttered that she was "going to become a Verdi fan."
The WSNC seems rife with bloggers, no less than three were spotted in the audience. It was rather sad to not be harrassed by Ruth Jacobs at the door. I had finally convinced her that I was, in fact, a member of the Wagner Society when we shared a box for Simon Boccanegra last September.