I have plans to go to the LA Philharmonic's October Sibelius Festival; I'm also taking a friend to see the SF Opera's The Magic Flute that same month. So, it made sense to have the Walt Disney Concert Hall Web site open at the same time as the SF Opera Web site.
I saw the familiar face of Richard Wagner and clicked a link labeled TSFY: A Medieval Journey. This is a Toyota Symphonies for Youth concert, and the program is certainly promising: a bunch of the more popular Ring orchestral excerpts, including the Ride of Valkyries, Forest Murmers, Siegfried's Funeral March, and so on. Ideal fare for children, I thought: exciting, beautiful music.
But then I looked again, and found the following description:
This concert, with Alexander Mickelthwate leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic, will feature the music of Richard Wagner and a medieval fairy tale, a story of the power of friendship, imagination, and music. The young princess Violetta will team up with a fire-breathing Dragon (portrayed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic) to keep the Kingdom in perpetual springtime.
The story of the Ring isn't beyond children, if properly explained; who doesn't understand greed, love, betrayal? (I have a charming illustrated Ring published in the 1930s or 40s by the Metropolitan Opera Guild, complete with musical examples.) And what child could fail to be thrilled by the gods and monsters who populate the Ring? Why use this great music to illustrate a made-up story??
Note also: no singers. How, exactly, is the LA Phil playing a dragon without a bass in the house?