The San Francisco Ring, 2011 – Donald Runnicles, Conductor, Francesca Zambello, Stage Director

 

Gordon Hawkins (Alberich) steals the Rhinegold from the Rhinemaidens. Photo Cory Weaver.

Gordon Hawkins (Alberich) steals the Rhinegold from the Rhinemaidens. Photo Cory Weaver.

San Francisco Ring Cycle, 2011

Conductor – Donald Runnicles
Director – Francesca Zambello
Set Designer – Michael Yeargan
Costume Designer – Catherine Zuber
Lighting Designer – Mark Mccullough
Projection Designer – Jan Hartley
Senior Associate Director – Christian Räth
Choreographer – Lawrence Pech
Associate Director – Jose Maria Condemi
Associate Projection Designer

 

Das Rheingold, June 21

Cast
Wotan – Mark Delavan
Loge – Stefan Margita
Alberich – Gordon Hawkins
Fricka – Elizabeth Bishop
Erda – Ronnita Miller
Mime – David Cangelosi
Fasolt – Andrea Silvestrelli
Fafner – Daniel Sumegi
Froh – Brandon Jovanovich
Donner – Gerd Grochowski
Freia – Melissa Citro
Woglinde – Stacey Tappan
Wellgunde – Lauren Mcneese
Flosshilde – Renée Tatum

Die Walküre, June 22

Cast
Brünnhilde – Nina Stemme
Wotan – Mark Delavan
Sieglinde – Anja Kampe (June 15, 22)
Sieglinde – Heidi Melton (June 29)
Siegmund – Brandon Jovanovich
Fricka – Elizabeth Bishop
Hunding – Daniel Sumegi
Gerhilde – Sara Gartland
Helmwige – Tamara Wapinsky
Ortlinde – Melissa Citro
Waltraute – Daveda Karanas
Rossweisse – Lauren Mcneese
Siegrune – Maya Lahyani
Grimgerde – Renée Tatum
Schwertleite – Cybele Gouverneur

 

Siegfried, July 1 (Cycle 3 performance)

Cast
Siegfried – Jay Hunter Morris
The Wanderer (Wotan) – Mark Delavan
Brünnhilde – Nina Stemme
Mime – David Cangelosi
Alberich – Gordon Hawkins
Fafner – Daniel Sumegi
Erda – Ronnita Miller
Forest Bird – Stacey Tappan

 

Götterdämmerung, June 26

Cast
Brünnhilde – Nina Stemme
Siegfried – Ian Storey
Gunther – Gerd Grochowski
Hagen – Andrea Silvestrelli
Waltraute & Second Norn – Daveda Karanas
Gutrune – Melissa Citro
Alberich – Gordon Hawkins
First Norn – Ronnita Miller
Third Norn – Heidi Melton
Woglinde – Stacey Tappan
Wellgunde – Lauren Mcneese
Flosshilde – Renée Tatum

When any object is taken apart and reformed, does its substance remain what it was in the beginning? Nothung, Siegmund and Siegfried’s magical sword, proves stronger for having been shattered and forged anew. Does the Rhine gold itself acquire new properties through being the fatal, world-dominating ring, or when the Rhinemaidens receive it at the end of Götterdämmerung, has it the same intrinsic properties it did when Alberich stole it “twenty hours ago,” as Anna Russell clocked it?

Director Francesca Zambello, in her Americanized Ring Cycle, three-quarters of which were co-produced by Washington Opera, forged something new and wondrous from Wagner’s tremendous and often toxic masterwork. Not every bit of Wagner’s original symbolism reintegrates seamlessly into the newly fashioned work, and occasional cognitive dissonance results. Frankly, Wagner’s own sprawling cosmology—one part German myth, one part creative genius, one part tortured personal psychology—leaves many questions unanswered and any number of unresolved contradictions and loose ends. In San Francisco, the director and her designer colleagues shaped a remarkable production that transcended its occasional awkward moments and that touched the heart in ways I’ve never known this uniquely ambitious epic work to do before. The striking and varied stage pictures are the work of Michael Yeargan, the always illuminating costumes are by Catherine Zuber, the colorful, refreshing, and often exquisite lighting is by Mark McCullough. The many projections, used as backdrops and show curtain, were created by Jan Hartley. I didn’t find every element equally successful, but I left the theatre believing that this production had the mystical power to make the world a better place. The staging is that good.

All directors aim high and ambitiously when they attempt the Ring; no coward can or should approach. Wolfgang and Wieland, The Brothers Wagner, radically streamlined their grandfather’s works during the New Bayreuth festivals after World War II, emphasizing the dramatic conflicts and the complex psychologies while dispensing with detailed scenic realism. Karajan’s Salzburg production, which came to the new Met in the 1960s, further slimmed things down and notoriously darkened them—prompting Birgit Nilsson’s famous prank of donning a lighted Miner’s helmet in rehearsal, lest the audience not see her at all in the Todesverkündigung (ah, those were the days of true divadom!).

Many other stagings, beginning most prominently with the Chéreau Ring at Bayreuth in 1976, have not only abandoned the trappings and garb of Norse mythology, but have emphatically framed the epic in contemporary political contexts that resonate with Eurocentric audiences since World War II. Chéreau introduced Marx into the mix and implicated American industrialism in the corrupt worldview wherein Siegfried perishes and which Brünnhilde in sacrifice redeems.

The Metropolitan Opera’s Ring-before-last, directed by Otto Schenk with sets by Günther Schneider-Siemsen and costumes by Ralf Langenfass, determinedly restored the work to an often visually endearing if shockingly literal, Classics Illustrated aesthetic. Beginning with the 1987 Walküre, mountaintops, robes, spears, horns, and palaces, stage pictures often adhered to the italicized passages in Wagner’s over-written libretti (although the Fafner dragon came closer to “When Good Tree Roots Go Bad”).

Zambello and her extensive design team, placed the work in an unmistakably American context that particularly resonated with audiences in this former California Gold Rush town. While the sung German text remained unaltered, SFO’s supertitles never referred to “the Rhine” (do you remember the Rhine?), only a nameless “river,” and, as has become more and more the custom, often provided a slangy and ironic commentary that occasionally bent the meaning of the original words. In general, conscious mistranslation troubles me in an international art form where suddenly literacy in language of the theatre rather than that of the author becomes the key to understanding the production. In this instance, I admit that the translation often had a contemporary freshness, consistent with this being the most brightly lit and colorful Ring I’ve ever seen. It was certainly the “proppiest”—with more tchachkes to establish place, character, and relationship than have ever surfaced in a story that traditionally calls for a few swords, spears, hammers, horns, helmets, and a ring.

Before going into further detail of which elements worked and which didn’t, I want to proclaim the true innovative triumph of the whole endeavor, the way in which Zambello told a worthy and contemporary feminist story through Wagner’s Romantic score, his heroes and heroines. The dramatis personae throughout and the death-toll at the end of the tetralogy were the same as always, yet some moments of the staging constituted a rewrite of Wagner’s storyline. Zambello matched the score and even the libretto to the the newly contrived action so convincingly, though, that I had to remind myself it was not always thus. I liked Francesca Zambello’s revised Ring narrative better than I like Wagner’s original.

For this Jewish Wagnerian who feels profound discomfort with Wagnerian anti-Semitism, I was deeply relieved at how thoroughly Zambello’s production eschewed the racist stereotypes implicit in the text and score. The prime Nibelungs, Alberich and Mime, were not by nature ugly or evil, more troubled and embittered. The Valhallan Gods were not lofty in manner or motivation. Neither the Volsung Twins, Siegmund and Sieglinde, nor their love-child Siegfried shone with gilded character against the dark horde of their moral inferiors. The ethical playing field was rendered strikingly even for a game played among deities and dwarves, goddesses of wisdom, demigod heroes, and scheming murderers.

As if to mete out a further measure of Borscht-Belt retribution for repugnant Aryan sins past, Zambello introduced an unprecedented amount of shtick into this portentous musical mythology,. Staying sometimes just on the windy side of Charles Ludlam’s parody, Der Ring Gott Verblonjet, there were nonetheless enough precisely timed elements of low comedy and enough laugh-provoking prop gags (beer bottles, butt kicks to God, telephones, televisions, remote controls, croquet mallets, and lap dances) to fill a revival of Gianni Schicchi, if not Come Blow Your Horn. This was the first Ring cycle of my experience that didn’t, like the fatal pedant of Broadway’s The Man of la Mancha, carry its own importance as though afraid of breaking it. From time to time I feared that the director’s intentional comedic overlay would cheat the audience and the work of deeper levels of meaning, but possibly Zambello scored stronger emotional pay-offs by offering an emotional palette of surprising breadth.

In a rough tally, we find that Zambello transported the Ring out of the Rhine to the American River; brought the gods down (and the gnomes up) to a very human plane; spiked Teutonic mead with vaudeville borscht; enriched the quality of women’s experience and agency beyond the stale limits of conventional heroine-ism; and erased the ethnic caricatures of the most offensively anti-Semitic work of dramatic art to hold an enduring place on the world stage.* All that, yet it was still grand theatre, still the Ring.

Donald Runnicles was an assured and extraordinarily humble conductor, who paced the four works for maximal narrative impact. He was rightly lauded by his San Francisco audiences. The orchestra played well for him. Lower brass occasionally sounded less elegant in attack and intonation than the trumpets, yet they created a moment of sonorous magic for the transition from Hagen and Alberich’s midnight exchange (Götterdämmerung Act II) into the grand confrontation that followed. Moments when Runnicles completely disarmed me with the beauty of the music tended to be quiet and spare in texture: Mime’s reminiscence of a happy Nibelung life before Alberich’s tyranny in Rheingold; Siegmund’s poetic “das Aug’ erfreut des Sehens selige Lust“; Brünnhilde’s generous “Ruhe, ruhe, du Gott”, at the heart of the Immolation Scene. Runnicles distinguished himself as an accomplice to the total work and an accompanist to his soloists, although in Das Rheingold and Die Walküre he occasionally swamped his baritones. Gordon Hawkins and Mark Delavan couldn’t always project through the sound rising from the pit. Delavan especially abandoned the natural warmth of his voice in big moments and bellowed a few climactic phrases in the Entrance to Valhalla and the Farewell.

Gordon Hawkins (Alberich) wearing the Tarnhelm. Photo Cory Weaver.

Gordon Hawkins (Alberich) wearing the Tarnhelm. Photo Cory Weaver.

Hawkins’s voice has a softer nap than more venomous Alberichs of my experience (among them Wlaschiha and, indelibly, Mazura in the theatre; Neidlinger, definitively, on record). A lyrical rather than brutal approach to this role means a less visceral impact, though, a loss for which the production bears substantial responsibility. Alberich first appeared as a prospector exhausted in his search for gold, befuddled by his own map, emphatically not a grotesque figure emerging from under a toadstool. He may not have been particularly courtly in his approach to the Rhinemaidens (pretty, blonde, and sassy saloon girls), but he warn’t no villain, neither;. His thieving the gold didn’t register as a rape—rather a fairly benign dance with the maidens for a large square of gold lamé fabric (vaguely reminiscent of modern dance from the 1960s). Ultimately we were left with an epic without a villain. It was wonderful that the Nibelungs weren’t portrayed as an infiltrating race of human-like vermin, but they were never any more evil, violent, ruthless, or greedy than anyone else. If Alberich is not a monstrous figure upon entry, a dramaturgical problem results if neither his renunciation of love and nor his embittered curse transform him into one by the end of Das Rheingold. Moments when Zambello could have made Alberich uglier without making him subhuman were lost and count among the few miscalculations in her staging. In the Nibelheim scene Hawkins, a burly figure, picked up one of the frightened and vulnerable little Nibelung slaves (costumed to remarkably poignant effect) and then put it down again unharmed, which rendered him a pussycat in tyrant’s clothing. The father/son encounter in Götterdämmerung—brilliantly staged on Hagen’s Hyatt Regency king-size bedroom set—remained too cuddly and paternal. A man who has renounced love in exchange for power might well exert authority over his son by more malign means when crawling into his bed at night. Crush a baby Nibelung for sport, sexually abuse your adult son for control, and then you’re a force to be reckoned with. (Given that Wagner doesn’t shy away from onstage incest, it was surprising that Zambello did.) Hawkins’s Alberich never registered as mean or perverted, just downtrodden. Finally, in an American setting, race carries other tropes, and Hawkins as a black man taunted by the white elite grabbed a measure of audience sympathy that the production never mitigated.

Götterdämmerung, Act II: Andrea Silvestrelli (Hagen) and Gordon Hawkins (Alberich). Photo Cory Weaver.

Götterdämmerung, Act II: Andrea Silvestrelli (Hagen) and Gordon Hawkins (Alberich). Photo Cory Weaver.

Not only in terms of complexion, but also in characterization, Hawkins’s snubbed black worker and David Cangelosi’s poor-white Mime made for unconvincing brothers. The excellent Cangelosi and the superlative Stefan Margita as Loge out-sang their baritone competition in Das Rheingold, no contest. Runnicles enabled them both to sing with Schubertian elegance and poise, and these two semi-character tenor figures emerged the male stars of both Das Rheingold and Siegfried.

Stefan Margita (Loge) in Nibelheim. Photo Cory Weaver.

Stefan Margita (Loge) in Nibelheim. Photo Cory Weaver.

No one sang badly in all the performances I heard, although basses Daniel Sumegi (Fafner and Hunding) and Andrea Silvestrelli (Fasolt and Hagen) cannot be said ever to have sung beautifully. They made impact through volume and stage presence, but the sounds were sometimes just ugly. The scissor-handed giants of Das Rheingold were more effective creations than the transformer-truck monster of Siegfried, I felt. Silvestrelli limned a wonderfully moving yet brutish Gibichung half-brother. Sumegi’s redneck Hunding was a bundle of macho boy cliches that did little to individualize either him or the plight of his hapless wife.

Anja Kampe’s Sieglinde made her best impact in a genuinely moving Act II mad scene, but lacked vocal gold in the upper reaches to cap the Act I love ecstasy or Act III heroics. Her brother/lover Brandon Jovanovich was just damn handsome in both form and tone (making a fine, preppy Froh in Rheingold, also). What he wasn’t, in Act I of Die Walküre, was erotically innocent. He displayed a convincing reticence about approaching Sieglinde, but this Siegmund had some practiced moves to win space at strange women’s hearths.

Walküre Act I was filled with hunting lodge detail, lots of antlers on the walls, which made the 2-dimensional tree with embedded sword look distractingly odd. Hunding’s posse of ruffians required a fudged translation of “Rüst’ uns Männern das Mahl!” but made for a scary and brutal rumble at the end of Act II. The occasional lack of continuity from scene to scene was problematic given the lengths Zambello and Company went to establish cultural context for each moment. If Hunding had that many men on hand, Sieglinde’s isolated predicament would likely have been equally dire but different. If Hunding’s house is stuck deep in the forest like a sword in an ash tree, how did everyone find themselves so quickly in the Edward Hopper-influenced, urban wasteland of at the end of Act II?

The design of that scene, under the highway, was a gorgeous and effective staging choice. Just as I silently began to protest the stylized parade of dead heroes in the Todesverkündigung (drawing attention away from Siegmund’s über-poignant line “Fänd’ ich in Walhall Wälse, den eignen Vater?”) I started to cry, so I suppose it wasn’t such a bad choice after all.

The first scene of Act II, in Wotan’s skyscraper office overlooking Gotham City, generated one very serious dissonance between staging and narrative that never resolved itself fully. Wotan as powerful business executive, check. Brünnhilde as tomboyish collegiate daughter back from Bryn Mawr, check. Fricka as corporate wife in a lounge outfit…not so much.

Die Walküre, Act II: Mark Delavan (Wotan) and Nina Stemme(Brünnhilde). Photo Cory Weaver.

Die Walküre, Act II: Mark Delavan (Wotan) and Nina Stemme(Brünnhilde). Photo Cory Weaver.

Here Zambello’s sophisticated understanding of male-female relations in American society lapsed. The private executive office might well be where the lonely boss indulges his pet daughter, but it’s not the space in which betrayed wives win policy battles against their husbands. Even acknowledging that Fricka has him dead to rights in their argument, Wotan the corporate magnate still wouldn’t yield to her wishes unless she arrived ready to take Daddy’s money out of the firm and flanked by an army of lawyers ready to nail Wotan for breach of contract. Elizabeth Bishop’s pleasantly plump, brightly sung Fricka was a smart and witty lady in both Das Rheingold and Die Walküre, but her crucial triumph over her husband’s will made no dramatic sense. Goddesses can best their godly husbands in power struggles; coiffed society wives don’t dominate their big cheese husbands without better ammunition than Zambello gave to Fricka. When this production is next revived, let her invade Wotan’s eyrie with an attorney or two (maybe Donner in his preppy attire from Das Rheingold), then she can put her feet up, read her husband’s newspaper, and relish watching him twist in the wind.

Die Walküre, Act III: Mark Delavan (Wotan) and Nina Stemme (Brünnhilde) with the Valkyries. Photo Cory Weaver.

Die Walküre, Act III: Mark Delavan (Wotan) and Nina Stemme (Brünnhilde) with the Valkyries. Photo Cory Weaver.

Act I of Siegfried outside Mime’s junkyard trailer sort of worked, although one couldn’t fathom how Siegfried’s soul had been saved by the forces of nature that were nowhere to be seen. I found Act II in Fafner’s industrial warehouse a non-starter, and the personified wood-bird, a pretty young grad student with a note-pad (energetically sung by Stacey Tappan), was a forced theatrical gesture that undermined Siegfried’s discovery of Brünnhilde in Act III.

Siegfried, Act I: David Cangelosi (Mime). Photo Cory Weaver.

Siegfried, Act I: David Cangelosi (Mime). Photo Cory Weaver.

San Francisco maintained consistent casting across the entire tetralogy with the one conspicuous exception of Siegfried, sung as scheduled by Jay Hunter Morris in Siegfried and Ian Storey in Götterdämmerung. The American and British tenors managed to create a consistent characterization and look between them—always the awkward child of Mime’s raising—with touching sincerity but with no preternatural wisdom or grace. Storey (who had lived through a vocally rough night in Cycle #1, by all accounts) managed his voice well, with perceptible caution. Morris sounded alarmingly small voiced in Act I of Siegfried, but gained strength as the performance progressed. The young Siegfried who hasn’t yet found love is a cranky boy, and Morris played him truthfully, which meant not very likably. The Götterdämmerung Siegfried is a happier camper, and Storey had moments of ingratiating boyishness.

Siegfried, Act II: Jay Hunter Morris (Siegfried) and Stacey Tappan (Forest Bird). Photo Cory Weaver.

Siegfried, Act II: Jay Hunter Morris (Siegfried) and Stacey Tappan (Forest Bird). Photo Cory Weaver.

Siegfried’s narrative has always been less intriguing than that of his consort. In San Francisco the extraordinary performance of Nina Stemme held the audience’s focus on Brünnhilde. The production traced the impact of Brünnhilde’s relationship among other women, Gutrune especially, making the community of women the lens through which Wagner’s story of redemption was seen.

More must be said about Nina Stemme, though. She committed whole-heartedly to a Brünnhilde with no helmet, with a shoulder-bag rather than a shield. Her playful impertinence in Wotan’s office veered from the credible—answering his phone—to the forced—climbing onto his desk to cry out “Hojotoho”—but always was played sincerely. With the exception of a few rushed phrases upon entering in Walküre Act III, she sang every note with secure warm tone, spin, no wobble, impeccable intonation and consistent timbre in every register. She offered a glorious performance in all three operas, and sang with beauty and nuance, fearlessness and literacy, passion and technical control. She is not just the best Brünnhilde of her generation, she joins the pantheon of great Wagnerian sopranos.

If I was less moved by the third Act of Siegfried, it is no reflection on her or Morris’s vocalism. The singing of the duet brought all the requisite thrills, but the flow of the production and the development of Siegfried’s character had left me unmoved. Earlier in Act III, Delavan’s Wanderer was still young, and impassioned, and his encounter with Erda—the powerful and impressive Ronnita Miller—was illuminated with flashes of the erotic and romantic liaison that resulted in Brünnhilde’s birth. Miller is a singer to watch. One might wish her to slim down for her health, but the presence and voice are both remarkable in one so young. No complaints either about the remaining Norns, with Heidi Melton (also the 3rd cycle Sieglinde) and Daveda Karanas (an exciting Waltraute) rising to the occasion. Rhinemaidens Stacey Tappan, Lauren McNeese, and Renée Tatum, sang and acted with spark and assurance, tracing more of a narrative arc than any Rhinemaidens in history.

Although Melissa Citro made a slight vocal impact as Freia, she became the most vivid Gutrune of my experience, singing strongly and making the most of the depth Zambello gave to her character. She appeared first as a blonde bimbo, comically manipulable by all the men around her. By the cataclysmic ending she had matured to become a central figure in the redemption that Brünnhilde worked through her half-sisters from the Rhine.

The closing scenes of Götterdämmerung and Die Walküre, along with the Todesverkündigung, are always the most profoundly moving episodes in this sprawling work, and in them this production worked extraordinary magic.

In a lifetime of opera going, I have witnessed greatness on stage, but never seen a perfect performance of anything, until the final act of Die Walküre in San Francisco. From “War es so schmählich” until the end of the opera, every element cohered to render a perfect performance of Wagner’s music and text. Delavan and Stemme, expertly supported by Runnicles, played out the emotional encounter between father and daughter with uncompromising honesty and emotional awareness. The singers and Zambello found fascinating reversals in the traditional dynamic—Brünnhilde “parenting” her stricken father; Wotan collapsing in anguish where anger might have been a more obvious choice—that made maximal use of the musical material. Countless little touches in the staging made this familiar scene unfold with spontaneity and originality and sad inevitability. Zambello newly minted the moments of Brünnhilde’s sleep and Wotan’s departure, the fire was conjured without Wotan’s striking the spear on the ground, and Yeargen’s set boasted wonderful and gratifying fire effects that required no suspension of disbelief from the audience. The scene surprised from moment to moment, but felt as though it could not have played out in any different way. Helmets off to all involved.

Götterdammerung, Act II: Nina Stemme (Brünnhilde), Andrea Silvestrelli (Hagen) and Ian Storey (Siegfried) with members of the San Francisco Opera chorus. Photo Cory Weaver.

Götterdammerung, Act II: Nina Stemme (Brünnhilde), Andrea Silvestrelli (Hagen) and Ian Storey (Siegfried) with members of the San Francisco Opera chorus. Photo Cory Weaver.

Especially at the end of the most comedic Götterdämmerung ever (the shtick, Boss, the shtick!), Zambello crafted a truly redemptive conclusion. Stemme delivered “Ruhe, ruhe, du Gott” in a ravishing mezza voce and with a radiant smile, as this warm-hearted Brünnhilde forgave her father and bestowed the last gesture of love on him, making good Zambello’s note in the program that Brünnhilde was all along the hero Wotan sought. Based on this production, I would take Zambello’s claim one step further and say theirs was the real tragic romance of the epic work. Father and daughter were the perfect couple—not Wotan and Fricka, not Siegmund and Sieglinde, certainly not Siegfried and Brünnhilde. Of course their love was doomed, but its memory infused the whole Immolation Scene vividly.

Götterdämmerung, Act III:  Nina Stemme (Brünnhilde), Stacey Tappan (Woglinde), Renee Tatum (Flosshilde), Lauren McNeese (Wellgunde), Melissa Citro (Gutrune) and Ian Storey (Siegfried). Photo Cory Weaver.

Götterdämmerung, Act III: Nina Stemme (Brünnhilde), Stacey Tappan (Woglinde), Renee Tatum (Flosshilde), Lauren McNeese (Wellgunde), Melissa Citro (Gutrune) and Ian Storey (Siegfried). Photo Cory Weaver.

The imperceptible reentry of the Rhinemaidens among the women who build the pyre at the close was perfect directorial sleight of hand: You didn’t notice when they entered; you suddenly realized they were there. Gutrune is granted the honor and right to snuff Hagen herself. (If it hadn’t been the final pages of sublime music I think everyone would have cheered.) The last chords coincided with a young girl planting a tree downstage right, demonstrating the triumph of the community of women and the hope for a renewed world ecology after a steady degradation of nature through the ambitions of gods and men.

Alberich’s initial theft of the river gold had proved awkward, that unconvincing fabric dance with the Rhinemaidens. The return of the golden cloth, though, the unanticipated graceful expansion of the forged ring into the spreading carpet, was pure magic. Zambello, Runnicles, and the whole creative team matched the sweeping emotional contours of the music with simple, human-scaled gestures that touched the heart and satisfied the intellect of the audience who wept and cheered in gratitude.

*Readers who are interested in this hotly debated topic should read the exchange between Barry Emslie and and Mark Berry on the site of the Wagner Journal [http://www.thewagnerjournal.co.uk/wagnerandanti-se.html], watch the panel discussion between Leon Botstein, David J. Levin, Kenneth Reinhard, and Marc A. Weiner, held at the Hammer Museum, UCLA, on the occasion of the LA Opera’s Ring Cycle, and read Leon Botstein, “Wagner and Our Century,” 19th-Century Music, Vol. 11, No. 1, Special Issue: Resolutions II (Summer, 1987), pp. 92-104, Leon Botstein, “German Jews and Wagner” in Wagner and his World, ed. Thomas S. Grey, Princeton University Press, 2009, pp. 151-197.

David Dunn Bauer

About David Dunn Bauer

David Dunn Bauer is a rabbi, critic, and educator formerly based in San Francisco, now in New York City. He writes regularly on issues of Torah, sexuality, Queer culture and community, and the arts. Before his rabbinical studies, he spent 15 years directing theatre and opera productions around the United States, Israel, and Europe. Having served as a congregational rabbi for many years, he now teaches about religion, Queer Judaism, and the nexus of spirituality and eros at colleges, synagogues, churches, and retreat centers nationwide. He is an alumnus of Yale University, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, the Institute for Jewish Spirituality rabbinic leadership program, and the certificate program in Sexuality and Religion at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. He studied music with Nadia Boulanger in 1976 and movement with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in 2010 and 2011. His contribution to the “It Gets Better Project” can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIWDxPjhTSo. David creates Queer Jewish programming in the Bay Area for Nehirim (www.nehirim.org) and has a private Spiritual Counseling practice based in Queer theology, available to everyone (www.queerspiritualcounseling.com).

2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Neuenfels’ Lohengrin at Bayreuth – 2010 / 2011: a (P)review - Berkshire Review, an International Journal for the Arts

  2. The EditorThe Editor

    On June 23, 2012, Rabbi Bauer and I were amused and flattered to learn that we were favored with the attentions of one Michael Colhaze, writing on a site called The Occidental Observer – White Identity, Interests, and Culture: http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2012/06/alberichs-revenge/. I need say no more in explanation of the spirit in which Mr. Colhaze wrote.

    I was delighted with David Dunn Bauer’s review and am happy to say that the Berkshire Review has benefitted from his profound knowledge of the theater, his style, wit, and humanity in several further reviews. I am proud to publish his work for the site and proud to be associated with a man of God who does such fine work for his congregation and community.

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