[Note: This post has been updated (1) as of 11:38 AM Eastern on 25 Mar. See below.]
[Note: This post has been edited at 8:50 AM Eastern on 6 Jan to correct a badly mangled and incomplete closing graf.]
The Washington National Opera is preparing its first-ever production of Wagner's epic tetralogy, Der Ring des Nibelungen. The new production's Das Rheingold, the first music-drama of the cycle, is to be given its premier 25 March this year, the next in the cycle, Die Walküre, to be premiered in March of next year (the premiers of the last two music-dramas of the cycle, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, have not yet been scheduled).
While a new production of the Ring is always cause for notice and remark, what makes this particular new production worthy of notice and remark is that it's to be what its director, Francesca Zambello, calls "an American Ring."
Well, you know, American. As in, Native American, perhaps. As in, Red-Indian American. As in, the magic gold residing in the depths of the Mississippi or Colorado, perhaps (Das Mississippigold just doesn't cut it, does it). As in, perhaps, Wotan as Kitcki Manitou, the Algonquin Great Spirit or Supreme Being, father of all. As in, perhaps, Erda as Atira, the Pawnee Earth goddess. As in, perhaps, Donner as Hino, the Iroquois god of thunder. As in, perhaps, Loge as Michabo, the Algonquin trickster god. As in, perhaps, Alberich as a proto-black slaver (there were such, you know), and the Nibelungs his stable of slaves.
But not so fast, please. Unlike the prima facie absurd Konzept of, say, the Chéreau, Kupfer, or Flimm Rings, the Konz..., er, concept of an American Red-Indian Ring cannot be dismissed out of hand as prima facie absurd. It in fact has possibilities. Genuine mythic possibilities; mythic possibilities in which Nature and the cosmic are both overarching context and underlying ground just as in the Scandinavian-Germanic-derived world of the Ring as envisioned and realized by its original creator. As I said in the comments section of this post by blogger La Cieca of Parterre Box (which has a couple nifty costume sketches for the still-secret production design), for this production one must withhold judgment until it's a fait accompli as its success or failure depends entirely on how Ms. Zambello and her team handle the new material, especially as it concerns that material's correspondence with Wagner's text, and most especially with Wagner's music; correspondences which the above mentioned Eurotrash productions failed grotesquely and abjectly to achieve, if such correspondences were even considered by the productions' respective directors as of any importance at all. If this "American Ring" satisfies those correspondences faithfully, imaginatively, and resonantly; remains unwaveringly and resolutely mythically grounded through and through; and the music forces involved are all first-rate, Washington National Opera might just find itself with a bona fide, world-class, true-to-the-Wagnerian-vision Ring on its hands.
Update (11:38 AM Eastern on 25 Mar): This Ring didn't, and the WNO doesn't.