Archive for the Arthur Rackham Category

Siegfried, a slow conversion

Posted in 19th cent., 21st Century, Achim Freyer, Arthur Rackham, L.A. Opera, The Ring Cycle on June 14, 2010 by babylonbaroque

My aesthetic journey continues.

I have complained rather ceaselessly about Achim Freyer’s production of Der Ring des Nibelungen.

I might be experiencing a change of heart.

Perhaps it was because the Beloved was able to accompany me to this performance, his optimism is infectious. Perhaps it was the very engaging lecture by Katheryn Syer, professor of musicology, University of Illinois, held this past saturday at LACMA’s Bing auditorium. Perhaps I’m just opening myself to his vision.

John Treleaven as Siegfried

I still have my hesitations, yellow haired, blue skinned anime-esque action figure? Probably not what Wagner had in mind.

But the performance was stirring.

Images taken from the first Ring , 1876

Siegfried front and centre.

I am better able to understand and appreciate Freyer’s vision. It is complete, and at times deeply moving and wondrous.

At times, silly, I cannot fully grasp Fafner as a teeny elfin dragon. My understanding of the dragon slaying scene goes back to childhood with this image.

ca. 1914

With that prejudice in mind,   I am eager to see the final installment, Gotterdammerung.

Until then a few images of Siegfried more in keeping with my usual taste.

A very creepy image by Rackham of the perverse step-dad Mime offering grub to the toddler Siegfried.

A wonderfully romantic image of the handsome Siegfried awakening the beautiful Brunnhilde with a kiss.

ca. 1892

Otto Donner van Richter 1828- 1911

Dear Mad Ludwig would have been truly mad for this, a great scheme for a mural at Neuschwanstein.

So much the sort of image I grew up with. Siegfried discovering his voice.

Same pose.

The Dutch , Jacques Urlus (1887-1935) ca. 1913

Just another typical image, I’ve always been a fan of helmets with dragon/Fafner motifs.

Just a closing image with the original Brunnhilde, Amalie Materna.

Please note that Grane is from Ludwig’s stable.

Such devotion to the cause.

Good Night


Ring Cycle Seating week 14

Posted in 1851 Great Exhibition, 19th cent., Achim Freyer, Arthur Rackham, Eastlake, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Gothic Revival, Placido Domingo, The Ring Cycle, Wagner with tags on June 11, 2010 by babylonbaroque

In the throes of my Teutonic frenzy, Ring Cycle in high gear,I thought this weeks chair should be one suitable for the Maestro Wagner.Chair

ca. 1850 , Coburg

Ferdinand Rothbart, designer, Thom. Hoffmeister and Thom. Behrens , makers

Oak and pine, with original plush upholstery, wool tassels, and brass nail

V&A

NOW this is my kind of chair, although it does indeed appear to be a throne, it is was intended to impress upon the world German craftsmanship and taste. Initially shown at the Great Exhibition of 1851, this chair, part of a set including a sideboard, were well received. Raves included praise for work “in the German-Gothic style of the middle ages”. So well  received ,that her Majesty used the set to furnish the Evening Drawing Room at Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh.

Multiple Drawing Rooms, Morning, Noon, Evening, different castles, ain’t monarchy just grand!

To make this chair more lust worthy, the tassels were initially bright pink, now faded to this sober tasteful coloring,a bit mud like.

I am fully entrenched in Master Wagner’s masterpiece, his Der Ring Des Nibelungen, last evening being Die Walkure. As I mentioned before I have my reservation concerning Achim Freyer’s production. From my nose bleed seats I feel as if I were the one viewing from Valhalla.

The production from this distance makes much more sense, Fricka’s ridiculously attenuated arms are less comical ; although her appearance onstage elicited loud guffaws from rubes in the audience, my sympathies to the fine soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk.

Fricka in background, Wotan foreground.

I hesitate to identify who is performing, but this is the costume scheme for the characters.

The first act of Die Walkure has a most tender and intimate quality to it. Never has incest been so romantic, so lovely, so enviable. Siegmund and Sieglinde have truly found their other half. This production seems to great to great lengths to distance itself from that intimacy, the Black and White Cookie costumes aside.

I am well aware of my conservative, at times pedantic taste. I  value Mr. Freyer’s vision, at times I am swept up in it. But so often I am left with the feeling that it is best as a conceptual rendering, the actual, very expensive, production often feels distracting.

With that said ,back to dear Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), Rackham captured the intimacy of this young attractive couple perfectly in sepia line drawings.

A smokin’ hot Stranger Man receives refreshment from a nubile Sieglinde.

Grumpy hubby Hunding not pleased with above mentioned smokin’ hot Stranger Man sharing a meal with them.

Wise and lovely Sieglinde pulls a sleep aid for grumpy husband from a very attractive Eastlake cupboard.

Sieglende explains to Stranger Man/ Siegmund the tale of the Sword, Notung,while hubby snoozes.

She tells how Wotan (pictured) disguised as a wedding guest to celebrate her arranged marriage to Hunding, plunges said Sword (Freudian subtlety) into The Tree. A sword Siegmund must remove to protect himself against Hunding.No man thus far has been able to do so.

This image “Sigmund’s Schwert” 1889 by Johannes Gehrts

Post pulling out the ever so subtle “Sword”,the smokin’ hot Siegmund declares his  incestuous  passion for Sieglinde .

The music climaxes,  passions explode (Siegfried next act)and they run off together.

The less smokin’ hot Placido Domingo as Siegmunde aids the exhausted Sieglinde, Anja Kampe, ’08-’09 production.

Battle between Hunding and Siegmund. Sieglinde once again feels faint.

Outcome, go see the Ring.

Image unknown to me.

Wotan’s faithful/faithless beloved daughter Brunnhilde, yet another aspect of this complicated tale of love, family, and passion.

I will close with the Maestro himself, thank you Richard.

Wagner at Luzern, 1868

I do like this  chair as well.

Have a great weekend.

Das Rheingold, a Wagnerite’s ambivalence

Posted in Arthur Rackham, The Ring Cycle, Wagner on June 8, 2010 by babylonbaroque

The Beloved kindly purchased tickets for the complete Ring cycle. I have the luxury of seeing Wagner’s dream opera in it’s entirety within the next few days.  Das Rheingold is this evening.   We were able to catch last season’s production of Das Rheingold and Die Walkure.   The Beloved was much more enchanted, I felt the need to shut my eyes.

Achim Freyer’s production, lauded in LA circles as revolutionary, was to my admittedly conservative taste, clownish. My tastes run towards productions the sainted Ludwig II would have enjoyed, mythic, romantic, fanciful.

Arthur Rackham’s wonderful illustrations express this taste beautifully.

Alberich and the Rhine Maidens

Achim Freyer’s vision of Alberich

As the LA production is winding down my resistance to Freyer’s production  has lost steam. As aggravated as I was by the cartoonish images plastered upon city buses; I knew my chance to see the city’s first production of the Ring Cycle was slipping through my fingers. You can’t bitch about a production, without having seen it in it’s entirety. Freyer has a vision, he has an admirable Brechtian pedigree, I need to see the Cycle in it’s entirety; something I have never done. Wagner himself felt it best to witness his creation four evenings in a row, this is my opportunity.

I have my issues with LA, it’s mad desire to be “unconventional”, “creative”, often just vulgar, but I look forward to this evening’s and the following evenings’ performances.

I must admit, I find this image very striking, I know I would enjoy Mr.Freyer’s sketches, his ideas are wonderful, mythic in their own right. The production, is often lackluster.With that in mind, I will once again take in the music, and this production. I will keep an open mind, difficult for an old curmudgeon.

I can always shut my eyes.

The Wagnerites by the Master, Beardsley

Just in case this production is too horrid, we can always attend the Met’s new production, Das Rheingold opens Sept. 27th.