The Cycle Revealed - Narrated by Bernard Gilbert

Avant/Garde Diaries
Jun 6, 2013 5:11PM

Stage directors have long struggled to successfully capture the vivid, almost unhinged imagery Richard Wagner envisioned in his Ring Cycle. Perhaps that’s just as well since the composer spent nearly a third of his life writing what is an epic fifteen-hour, four-part opera. It was epitome of gesamtkunstwerk, or his notion of a total work of art. The basic storyline has the air of the archetypal – man, gods, and mythical creatures battling for ownership of a ring that has the power to control the entire world. The actual text is a bit more fantastic – gods treading rainbows, a dwarf transforming into a snake, a sleeping mortal surrounded by an impenetrable ring of fire, and so on.

For the first time in twenty years, New York’s Metropolitan Opera revealed a new Ring Cycle, the most impressive production the opera house has ever undertaken. Directed by Robert Lepage of the Quebec-based theater company Ex Machina, this Cycle is presented with the help of a twenty-four-plank stage system, which rotates 180 degrees to a staggering fifteen-feet high – exactly the kind of disorienting carnival ride Wagner probably envisioned. The stage, which has come to be known as “The Machine,” is the canvas for a series of organic and phantasmagoric visual projections that carry the audience through the entire scenery of the Cycle.

The Avant/Garde Diaries invited filmmaker and photographer Samantha Casolari to provide us her own interpretation of this Ring Cycle. Narrated by Ex Machina production manager Bernard Gilbert, we learn that “what has happened through this cycle of life and death is that we start again, but probably not at the same point we started before,” he says. “Will we do it better? Will the journey be different? We have lived an experience through the entire first cycle and the second experience could never be the same.”

Directed, Filmed & Edited by Samantha Casolari / Produced by Callie Barlow & Samantha Casolari / Music remixed by Valentin Stip / Narration by Bernard Gilbert, Production Manager Opera Ex Machina, Québec City / Filmed on location at The Metropolitan Opera – Robert Lepage’s production of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle / Special thanks to Sam Neuman

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