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Journal of No. 118


April 26th, 2009

Teriyaki Valkyries @ 07:54 am

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Too many good things to choose from this weekend. Festival of Books, Grilled Cheese Invitational, etc. etc. I thought time was supposed to be the universe's way of keeping everything from happening at once. Fortunately, I'm well satisfied by my choices.

A quick plan to BBQ arose mid-week, and we hosted ian_tiberius and zorker & postgoodism. By noon, the chicken was well on its marinating way and the house was clean enough. Corn on the cob and teriyaki chicken on the grill, plus some salad and an outrageous chocolatey thing from Viktor Benes, courtesy of C&L. Ian's Native American/Irish background spurred him to contribute the corn and some Harp. I was very satisfied with my grilling of the chicken, but all honor goes to the marinade, direct from the Goth Gardener's twin sister:

1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup soy sauce
3 clove garlic
3T brown sugar
1T grated ginger
2T sherry (I believe we used vermouth, with no ill effects)
marinate 4-12 hours

We ate, drank and were merry, with conversation ranging far and wide. Sadly, we couldn't linger overlong with our postprandial socializing, for we had to gird ourselves for the next event on the schedule: Die Walküre at the LA Opera.

The Goth Gardener made herself elegant, and I did my best to make myself a fit companion. I'm afraid there were a few disappointments. Plácido 'the greatest Siegmund of our era' Domingo was not Siegmunding this night. Boo. This was my first visit to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and maybe it made sense in the 60's, but the inside of the theater is kinda butt ugly. And finally, there is the overall artistic design of the LA Ring Cycle, perpetrated by "boldly abstract German theater artist, painter and director Achim Freyer".
The NYT calls his work "fantastically strange and often confounding," while the LAT maybe didn't want to directly disparage the home team, calling it "not to everyone's taste." Well, I'm telling you it sucked.
I found it distractingly ugly, rife with meaningless elements, and detrimental to the telling of the story. I think the meeting and emotional interaction of Siegmund and Sieglinde is somewhat hampered when the two are forced to stand at opposite ends of the stage, almost totally obscured behind icons of themselves.
The same way that bad LARPs have inspired me to run better LARPs, I want to try my hand at providing the artistic vision for a Ring Cycle. I can't draw my way out of a paper bag, but I'm willing to lay good odds that I could do better.

OK, now the good stuff. Everything else. Glorious music and glorious singing, even glorious stage ninjas. The orchestra sounded fantastic, even if the peculiarities of the hall make it occasionally sound like they're next door. Ventris as Siegmund may be overshadowed by Domingo (or so I'm told!) but he did a fine job and was the first to get the malenky hairs on my plot standing endwise, when he blasted us with his prayer for his father's aid: "Wälse! Wälse! Wo ist dein Schwert?"
Anja Kampe's Sieglinde didn't impress me at first, but by the end I was a believer. But the most satisfying were Linda Watson's Brünnhilde and, particularly, Vitalik Kowalkow's Wotan. The last act is primarily a vehicle for Brünnhilde/Wotan to chew the scenery together, and for once the staging didn't get in the way of their interaction. Throughout, Wotan was consistently making the best attempts at acting (even while wearing a big eyeball on his head) and it made for a very satisfying end.
The Valkyries warbled and shrieked and Hojotoho-ed like there was no tomorrow, but I can't really tell a Helmwige from an Schwertleite without a program. But using the program, I will say that Ortlinde can bear my broken body off the battlefield anytime.
 
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Journal of No. 118