Showing posts with label Met. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Met. Show all posts

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Met Contract Talk Links

I'll put links worth reading here on a rolling basis:

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Foxman and Ideas

Today's NY Times has an eloquent letter from Abraham Foxman arguing that Mein Kampf, by Adolph Hitler, should be published in Germany. I agree with him on this.

However, he's the same guy who thinks you shouldn't get to see The Death of Klinghoffer. It's pretty clear from his HuffPost piece of June 20 that he and his allies pressured the Met to cancel Klinghoffer entirely.

Friday, July 04, 2014

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Peter Gelb and the Metropolitan Opera Contract Talks

Months ago, I'd opined that Peter Gelb would not destroy the Met with a lockout. The contract negotiations have now been in full swing for months, and you could say that I am no longer sure of this. The public war of words has gotten to the point where it's a little tough to tell the rhetoric from the reality.

Both sides are guilty. Alan Gordon of AGMA started with the inflammatory public statements back in February. He has continued with them ever since, to the point that his union members might consider taking him aside and suggesting he back off.

The Metropolitan Opera's musicians, whose union is the AFM, hired a publicity firm, Geto & de Milly, that has been sending me sundry press releases and reports. Here's a link to their report on "Peter Gelb Mismanagement," which they delivered to the Met Board of Directors.

On the other side, Peter Gelb has made his share of stupid remarks to the press. Here's a paragraph from a New Yorker article by Alex Ross (make sure you read the whole eloquent thing):
Especially disheartening is the fatalistic tone that Gelb has struck in discussing the Met’s biggest crisis, “Klinghoffer” notwithstanding: the ongoing negotiations with the sixteen unions that represent the Met’s great beehive of performers and workers. Gelb has said that expenses have become ruinous and that employees must accept cuts. The unions have responded by blaming Gelb for rising expenses and diminishing receipts. The underlying financial situation is difficult for an outsider to assess, and Gelb may have valid points to make. But he loses credibility when he blames wider cultural trends for the Met’s particular problems: “There aren’t enough new audience members replacing the older ones who are dying off. It’s no secret that the frequency of operagoing in the U.S. is decreasing.” Such actuarial language is unworthy of the leader of one of the world’s largest arts institutions. Incidentally, Gelb has revealed that seventy-five per cent of the Live in HD audience is sixty-five or older. “Those are people who are so old that they can’t go the Met, to the theatre, anymore,” he has said. This, apparently, is the same audience that would have become bloodthirsty after a viewing of “The Death of Klinghoffer.”
I'm going to be a little less polite that Alex is in the above: Insulting your audience members is a really, really bad thing to do. The HD broadcasts are known to be a profit center for the Met, so it is especially bad to insult them. Also, you know, with 1,500 theaters showing Live in HD, most of the audience members live too far away to attend the Met on a regular basis.

As Alex recounts, this isn't the first of Gelb's PR blunders. He's still defending the Lepage Ring. He tried to ban Opera News reviewers from reviewing the Met.

The Met has a communications department, and I'm willing to bet that the folks there are competent, and that they'd be happy to help keep Peter Gelb's foot out of his mouth. I have to conclude that he is either not consulting them or not listening to them.

At a time when tense contract negotiations are going on, he really ought to consult them and listen to them. (And Alan Gordon should get some help too, before the chorus smothers him under their costumes o keep him from making things worse.)

Lastly, there are a couple of things that I hope everyone will keep in mind as the contract negotiations continue:

  • The Met's annual budget has gone up by approximately 50% since Peter Gelb took over from Joe Volpe.
  • Somebody signed those contracts that Peter Gelb now says are killing the Met.
  • That person's name is Peter Gelb.
He should be taking some responsibility for the current situation, in other words.

I said a while back that the Met board couldn't really replace Gelb, given that people who can run a gigantic arts organization aren't exactly thick on the ground. Present circumstances suggests that the Met might, in fact, be better off without him.

And I had a thought the other day: David Gockley retires from San Francisco Opera in two more seasons. He has done a sterling job of controlling costs, working well with the unions, planning for the future, increasing the company's endowment, and hauling in big contributions. If anyone can get the Met under control for the long term, he's the one.


Friday, June 20, 2014

More on the Klinghoffer HD Broadcast Decision

 Links to some relevant articles and a few thoughts of my own about the opera. More to come, no doubt.
I think there is a case to be made against the libretto, but it's not one I have seen before: if you want to present the Israel/Palestinian conflict in an even-handed way, which is what I believe Adams and Goodman have said they were trying to do, having Israel represented by an American Jew and Palestine represented by terrorists misrepresents both sides. An American Jew isn't an Israeli and isn't Israel; Palestinians deserve better representation than the minority of terrorists. Consider an alternative plotline unrelated to the Achille Laura hijacking: a Palestinian family that lost its land after fleeing in 1948, an Israeli family that lost its home in the Holocaust or after fleeing Iran. And there's an obvious bad side in murdering an old man who has no power in the conflict. I haven't seen or heard the opera and have no opinion as to whether it is anti-Semitic. I will say that the portrayal of Henry Kissinger in Nixon made me squirm, though.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Met Cancels Klinghoffer HD Broadcast

From the Met:
New York, NY (June 17, 2014)After an outpouring of concern that its plans to transmit John Adams’s opera The Death of Klinghoffer might be used to fan global anti-Semitism, the Metropolitan Opera announced the decision today to cancel its Live in HD transmission, scheduled for November 15, 2014. The opera, which premiered in 1991, is about the 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise ship and the murder of one of its Jewish passengers, Leon Klinghoffer, at the hands of Palestinian terrorists.
“I’m convinced that the opera is not anti-Semitic,” said the Met’s General Manager, Peter Gelb. “But I’ve also become convinced that there is genuine concern in the international Jewish community that the live transmission of The Death of Klinghoffer would be inappropriate at this time of rising anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe.” The final decision was made after a series of discussions between Mr. Gelb and Abraham Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, representing the wishes of the Klinghoffer daughters.
In the interests of transparency, the Met ought to release some evidence of the "outpouring of concern," because right now it looks like the ADL and the Klinghoffer daughters have done this single-handedly.

From John Adams:
My opera accords great dignity to the memory of Leon and Marilyn Klinghoffer, and it roundly condemns his brutal murder. It acknowledges the dreams and the grievances of not only the Israeli but also the Palestinian people, and in no form condones or promotes violence, terrorism or anti-Semitism. The cancellation of the international telecast is a deeply regrettable decision and goes far beyond issues of 'artistic freedom,' and ends in promoting the same kind of intolerance that the opera’s detractors claim to be preventing.

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Cast Change Advisory

From the Met:
Matthias Goerne is stepping into the title role in tonight’s opening night performance of Berg’s Wozzeck, replacing Thomas Hampson, who has withdrawn due to illness.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Metropolitan Opera Contract Talks, 2014

Putting on opera, especially at the international level, is expensive. Think about it all: you have to pay singers, instrumentalists, conductors, prompters, lighting techs, stagehands, dressers, makeup artists, costumers, costume designers, lighting designers, directors, set designers, front of house staff, ticketing staff, the marketing, artistic, and administration departments, and very likely some people I am forgetting. Oh, and you have to pay for space for all of that.

Some years ago, a friend and I started to add up what it would cost to run an opera company if you had permanent singer and orchestral staff and paid the singers a salary rather than on a per-performance basis.  We got to $7 million and quit, and believe me, we had left lots out.

So the contract talks for a big opera company are necessarily complex. A large percentage of those who work to put opera on stage are represented by unions. Labor unrest can affect institutions in the worst ways.

Public pronouncements by those who will be involved with contract talks should always be taken with a large grain of salt. A few years ago, David Gockley of San Francisco Opera rattled his saber very, very loudly in his column in the programs. From what he said, you could tell that there were significant cost issues and that he felt opera could be produced more efficiently / cheaply if certain conditions were met. (I believe he was hinting at a move to stagione system from a repertory system: instead of running two or three opera sin rotation, with sets switched on a constant basis, just one opera would play for its full run, greatly reducing the need for stagehand time between performances.)

This scared a number of people, but, honestly, I thought it was pre-negotiation noisemaking, a strategic attempt to influence public opinion in case of a bad outcome of the talks, i.e. a strike by one or more of the unionized professions.

It's with this in mind that you should read statements coming from Alan Gordon of AGMA, which represents singers in the contract talks. He is warning about a potential lockout at the Met as contract negotiations commence, making claims that Peter Gelb is taking over negotiations from Joe Volpe (Gelb's predecessor) in order to "restructure labor relations at the Met" and pointing to the Met's declining ticket sales and income.

Anyone reading Gordon's comments should take them with about 20 pounds of salt. As a union representative, he's not in a position to put words into the mouth of the Met, and saying that members should expect a lockout (loss of income, etc.) is doing exactly that.

Whatever you think about Peter Gelb's handling of the artistic side of the Met, whatever you think about the HD broadcasts (boon to the bottom line? art-form breaker?), you can bet that he reads the same papers you do. He has seen the tremendous damage done to the Minnesota Orchestra by its lockout, from the complete loss of confidence in board and management to the financial hit they've taken through having no income from ticket sales for 18 months.

The Metropolitan Opera has the biggest budget of any performing arts organization in the world. Ticket sales, fundraising, and public support are crucial to its continued operations. Gelb will negotiate hard for union concessions, but he is not going to destroy the company with a lockout.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Breakthrough Moment?

From the Metropolitan Opera comes the news that soprano Erin Morley will sing all performances of Sophie in the upcoming Rosenkavalier, replace Mojca Erdmann, who is recovering from pneumonia. Best wishes to Erdmann for a complete recovery, but based on my experience of them both - Erdmann as an out-of-tune Forest Bird in the Met HD broadcast of Siegfried, Morley as a glorious Roxana in Santa Fe's King Roger last year - the Met audience is better off with this cast change.

Morley has sung almost 60 Met performances, but they've been in small roles. Hoping this will be a big breakthrough for her.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Frau Media Roundup

People are weighing in.
I'm surprised that so many reviewers liked Ildiko Komlosi, who sounded lousy from the Grand Tier throughout the opera. I'm also surprised that Tommasini spent so many column-inches rehashing the plot; link to a synopsis, for heaven's sake. 

The Nurse's motivations remain extremely obscure. She hates humans, wishes the Empress weren't drawn to humans, and yet she tries to obtain a shadow so that the Empress can stay in the human world. This seems like a loose end that Strauss and Hofmannsthal never worked out. And the Falcon? What's the point?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Go-To Dramatic Soprano

The Met is hiring Christine Goerke to sing Elektra, Ortrud, Turandot, and Brünnhilde in upcoming seasons. That Elektra will be in the Chereau production that is expected to come to the Met in the near future, and the Ortrud will be in a revival of Robert Wilson's Lohengrin. As for the Ring, alas, the Lepage production will return.

This couldn't happen to a better singer or a nicer person (note the account of her jumping on stage to turn pages).

I am so there! And hoping SF Opera will also hire her.

Sie kommt! Die Frau ohne Schatten at the Met

Herbert Wernicke's 2001 production of Strauss's monumental Die Frau ohne Schatten is on stage again at the Metropolitan Opera, for the first time in a decade. You should go if you can! In the comments below, I complain about any number of details, some more important than others, but nothing I say should keep you from seeing this generally well-performed revival of a great opera that isn't staged nearly enough.

Why isn't it performed all that often? Well, its comparative unpopularity and length are two factors, but much more importantly, it's difficult to find five singers who can sing the crazy demanding leads, and it's enormously expensive to stage, between the scenic requirements, the size of the orchestra, those five leads, and the eight or ten small roles that still need to be cast with good singers.

Christine Goerke (Dyer's wife) and Johan Reuter (Barak)
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

The Met production has an appealingly drab and humble set for Barak's house, set in more or less modern times and featuring, among other things, a run-down looking refrigerator from which the characters occasionally pull out, and drink, a beer.

Act III - The Nurse about to be banished. 
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

By contrast, there's an absolutely gorgeous set for the world of the Emperor and Empress. It's a huge box mirrored top, bottom, and sides, with effects done entirely with lighting. There's nothing in the way of physical properties or furniture at all, just the glowing mirrored box.

The production photos do not do the set justice, and I really understand why the Met decided against an HD broadcast of this one. They'd be doing a lot of closeups; the spirit world Personregie leaves something to be desired, and I am sure this set looks best when you can see the whole thing.

I have a whole bunch of minor and major beefs with the direction and theatrical side of the production, discussed below, many fewer with the singing and just about none with Vladimir Jurowski's conducting. Although one friend remarked that he hoped Jurowski would keep the orchestra under wraps more, from my seat in the Grand Tier I heard very few moments when the orchestra covered a singer. (If you care, my personal decibel meter pegged the Nurse's departure in Act III as the loudest single moment in the opera, and it was damn loud.)  I thought there was some slackening on Jurowski's part during Act II, but that is also the most dramatically, and perhaps musically, diffuse act of the show. Acts I and III moved along well, and in fact Act III had tremendous musical drama and excitement from the first downbeat.

The orchestra sounded great as well, and played heroically through a very long night. Yes, there were those trumpet clams in consecutive bars at an exposed moment in Act III, but this is entirely forgivable. And major kudos are due concertmaster David Chan and principal cellist Jerry Grossman for their gorgeous solos.

Richard Paul Fink (Spirit Messenger) and Ildiko Komlosi (Nurse)

All of the smaller roles are well sung, although Spirit Messenger Richard Paul Fink's stentorian bass-baritone is starting to show some wear. There's one unusual bit of casting, in that countertenor Andrey Nemzer sings the Guardian of the Threshold. This alternate casting is in the score; I just can't think of another production where this was done.* Nemzer was astonishing, with a very big and rich voice, more a male soprano than any countertenor I've heard before. I also really liked the use of an acrobat to portray on stage the invisible Falcon, who is typically heard but not seen.

The leading singers are overall very good, with exceptions at either end of the scale: Ildiko Komlosi, the Nurse, is wobbly and without enough power, especially in her low register. She just can't register the character's malevolence sufficiently and doesn't make much vocal impact.

Christine Georke and the singing fishes
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

On the other hand, there's Christine Goerke, who is magnificent as the Dyer's Wife. She gives one of the most complete assumptions of a character that I have ever seen. Where too many sopranos sound like shrews when they take on this part, she sings so beautifully and expressively that you realize the Dyer's Wife is young, confused, and vulnerable, lashing out because she is afraid and deeply conflicted about her marriage. Goerke has tremendous vocal range, all the way down and all the way up, and she is a fantastic physical actor. If you have ever heard Christa Ludwig as the Dyer's Wife, Goerke's performance is in that league. And I feel that I now know what the critic Claudia Cassidy meant when she described Rosa Raisa as having "a royal purple dramatic soprano."

The other leads are very good, though none of them quite reach the heights of Goerke. Johan Reuter sings well, but his Barak is little one-dimensional. Barack's goodness comes through loud and clear; I wish he could show some of the pain Barak must feel at his wife's ambivalence and rejection. If you saw his Wozzeck last year with Esa-Pekka Salonen, you may recall that it was a surprisingly sane and amiable Wozzeck, which are not the qualities I expect in that role.

Torsten Kerl, Emperor
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

The Emperor must be among the most thankless roles in opera. The tenor has to cope with a lot of difficult singing, but gets very little interaction with other characters. You learn about the Emperor and his relationship with the Empress from his monologues and from what the Nurse says about them. Torsten Kerl doesn't have a huge or especially beefy voice; he sings tirelessly and sounds good, with a bright, clear tenor, but the direction gives him nothing to do at all. He stands around as if he were a stone, even when he's not.

Anne Schwanewilms (Empress)
 Her face looked exactly like this throughout the opera.
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

And it's the same story with Anne Schwanewilms as the Empress. She has a beautiful voice, and sufficient range and volume and flexibility - "Is mein Liebster dahin?" was gorgeous - but her face is just a blank; I spent a fair amount of time with my binoculars trained on her, and I would swear her facial expression hardly varied and that her forehead never moved. She is poorly directed in any number of ways, starting with the way she wanders around that mirrored stage in Act I with her arms extended, as if she were a child imitating a bird, badly.

 Over the course of Act II, the Empress has little to sing when in the human realm, but the realization slowly dawns on her that there will be terrible consequences for the Dyer's Wife and Barak if she takes the shadow. But Schwanewilms expresses none of this physically, missing out on the beginning of the Empress's transformation and maturity.

Because Schwanewilms is so blank and Goerke is so expressive, I was far more moved by the transformation of the Dyer's Wife than by that of the Empress. On record, "Ich will NICHT!" is what moves me to tears. In this performance, I wept for the Dyer's Wife at the end of Act II

And there were other reasons the Empress's big scene in Act III did not have the impact it ought to have had. While I am not a stickler for following stage directions, I cannot believe that the production ignores the instruction after "Ich will nicht" to darken the stage, then bring up the lights again to show that the Empress is casting a clear shadow. Instead, the production does something much vaguer with the lighting to show what I presume to be a shadow on the back wall of the mirror box. They're ducking an easy lighting effect - my high school theater could have done it - that has enormous impact. And hey, they've been yelling about her lack of a shadow for 3 hours 45 minutes by then! Give us a shadow, Met!

Anne Schwanewilms (Empress) and Torsten Kerl (Emperor, turned to stone).
"Ich will nicht!" but are those blobs the Emperor, her shadow, or a Rorschach test?
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

I have also got some issues with the staging of the last five or ten minutes. The mirrored box, where most of the last act has taken place, is withdrawn, leaving the two couples on the lip of the bare stage. Then the giant Met lighting rig is lowered until it's hovering maybe 15 feet above them - shades of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which I would bet is not what Herbert Wernicke had in mind, and is certainly not what I want to be thinking of at the end of this great opera. Moreover,  there's this Kumbaya business where the two couples meet and Barak and his wife make obeisances to the Emperor and Empress. I don't buy it and I think it lessens the dramatic impact of the ending. Perhaps the production team was trying to distract us from the voices of unborn children.

* Update: Henry Holland calls to my attention a 1993 LA Opera production in which David Daniels sang the Guardian of the Threshold.

Huge thanks to BH and JF for asking me questions that helped me get this written.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Frau at the Met, Short Version

Go see it. You just don't have many opportunities to catch this one; the production is solid and often absolutely gorgeous, though I have many quibbles with it. The singing is mostly excellent, and.....CHRISTINE GOERKE. Well. You may have thought this opera was about the Empress, the woman of the title, but Goerke steals the show in magnificent fashion as the Dyer's Wife.

Hoping to get something longer up - Bruce Hodges heard a half-hour brain dump Friday night - but having a hell of a time getting going on it.

Monday, September 30, 2013

The Met Helps You Keep Track of Who's Doing What With Whom

From a cast change advisory for upcoming performances of Rigoletto:
Two rising young sopranos will make their Met debuts earlier than originally scheduled when they share the role of Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto later this fall, replacing Aleksandra Kurzak, who has withdrawn due to pregnancy. Russian soprano Irina Lungu will sing the role on November 11, 15, and 18, and Bulgarian soprano Sonya Yoncheva will sing the role on November 21, 27, 30, December 4, and at the December 7 matinee.  Kurzak is expecting a baby this winter with her partner, tenor Roberto Alagna.

Monday, July 01, 2013

KA Kills

Screen shot of Cirque web site


Zachary Woolfe and I have both had a few things to say about Cirque du Soleil's show KA, directed by none other than Robert Lepage, whose design prefigures that of Lepage's Metropolitan Opera Ring.

Now the KA set and rigging have taken the life of a Cirque acrobat. The show is at least temporarily closed down. Let's hope nothing like this happens on the rotating planks of the Ring set.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

James Levine Birthday Celebration

The Met Opera radio channel on Sirius XM (channel 74) will have a special marathon this weekend in honor of James Levine's 70th birthday. Program is after the cut. Of special interest are the rarely-heard Ghosts of Versailles at noon Saturday and Idomeneo at noon on Sunday, as well as the Vespri that follows Idomeneo. It's a shame they can't get it together for Moses und Aron or Wozzeck, and it is bizarre that no Wagner is among the operas being broadcast.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Defending the Indefensible



The Times has a puff piece on the dismantling of The Machine, that nasty unit set used for the Met's current Ring production, which is going into storage for the nonce. Ho hum, except for the quotations from Peter Gelb, who inserts his foot farther into his digestive system with every comment:
Mr. Gelb suggested that the machine had become a scapegoat. “One of the reasons the ‘Ring’ has been criticized so much is people disagree with his approach, not the machine,” he said, referring to Mr. Lepage. “The machine is a victim, not entirely innocent because of its creakiness, but, you know, every production at the Met makes some noise.” 
He said he had not lost his enthusiasm for the machine. “It worked far more times than it didn’t work, and when it didn’t work sometimes, the machine was blamed when it wasn’t its fault.” He mentioned a moment in “Das Rheingold” last month when a jam on a separate “track-and-trolley” device prevented acrobats from zooming over the stage. Still, that problem forced the crew to stop the machine. 
He added that while it had delayed that 2011 “Die Walküre,” it had never interrupted a performance. “I’ve been to Broadway shows where the performance was stopped and the audience sat with the house lights on because things weren’t working,” he said. “That never happened to us.”

Yeah, that 45-minute delay to reboot the thing for Die Walkuere, who cares?
Nobody believes a word Peter Gelb says about the production at this point; actually, people disagree with the approach (brainless) and The Machine (worthless, dull). I'd suggest that he cut his losses by keeping his mouth shut.

On the Air

James Levine's return to the podium is tomorrow, and the concert will be broadcast on the web. Details from the Met press release:

The Sirius XM Radio broadcast of this Sunday afternoon’s MET Orchestra at Carnegie Hall concert—Met Music Director James Levine’s first public performance in more than two years—will be simulcast on the Met’s Web site.  The broadcast can be heard live on Metropolitan Opera Radio on SIRIUS XM Channel 74 and streamed live at www.metopera.org/stream.aspx beginning at 2:55 p.m. on Sunday. The concert begins at 3 p.m. this Sunday, May 19. The program will include the prelude to Wagner’s Lohengrin; Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major with soloist Evgeny Kissin; and Schubert’s Symphony No. 9, “Great.”
A pretty tame program for Levine: no Carter, Webern, etc.

Note: 3 p.m. eastern time. That's noon for us here on the west coast.  Good luck, Jimmy, and don't fall off the scooter.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Where Time and Space Become One



Reviews accumulating for the new Met Parsifal, which, if you're not going to be in NYC, will play in movie theaters on March 2.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

He Got This One Right

I have raked Zachary Woolfe over the coals from time to time for ridiculous things he has said in the Times - Margaret isn't killing opera any time soon - but here's something he got right: what the Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil production of KA should have, could have, told the Metropolitan Opera about Robert Lepage. In a word, everything. Everything they needed to know about his style, production values, and priorities.

How do I know this? I was in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago for a short visit with relatives. My uncle, who knows everybody in the theatrical world, got us comp tickets for KA. This made sense because we were staying in the MGM Grand, where the show runs, many times each week, in a purpose-built theater.

First off, the show is a complete and total embarrassment, for many reasons. There's the embarrassing, cringe-inducing, enraging, and racist use of African American performers, many of whom come out of the theatrical woodwork at the beginning of the show, faces and upper bodies brightly painted, to swing around the theater making jungle noises. God help me; it's the 21st century and we haven't gotten to the point where we consistently write meaningful theatrical roles for African Americans.

Yeah, I know it's a spectacle. So?

Second, the scale of the thing is insane, in many directions. The theater is vast, the stage makes that of the Metropolitan Opera look small. And yet....in the middle of the vastness, you've got people doing acts that were invented about 700 years ago and would look great in a medieval village square done from the back of a horse-drawn cart, with the audience within 15 feet of the performer. They look like they're about 250 feet away in that gigantic theater. Did no one notice this?

Third, there's the stage itself, which goes up and down, swivels, rotates in various planes, turns around, goes upright, and, for all I know, flips over. It behaves remarkably like the Ring set that the Met paid a fortune, and not a small one, for.

I can't claim to know its full range of tricks because the show itself is so boring that I left after about 45 minutes. There's not a semblance of plot; you're so far from the action, even in good seats, that you have no connection with the performers. Acts move on and off stage; the performers don't really interact. And you've seen most of the tricks before.

As theater, this show is a shambles. There's not a bit of Personregie or any kind of human interest, although I think Cirque does have the nerve to claim that there is a plot. No there is not.

Had anyone from the Met bothered to attend this mess, which opened in 2005, they would have known exactly what they were getting in the way of a Ring director: a guy who likes to play with toys and has no real sense of theater. And maybe they wouldn't have signed him on.