Friday, August 21, 2009

An Epic Drive for An Epic Opera

Last week, Selina, Jen and I got to go on a little fieldtrip.

To celebrate their production of Wagner's Ring Cycle, Seattle Opera's Bravo Club was hosting Laser Ring (a la Laser Floyd or Laser Zeppelin style) at the Pacific Science Museum. So with the blessings from the higher-ups, we drove down to the States.

What should've taken 3 hours to get to downtown Seattle turned out to be 4+ hours excruciating drive. You gotta love the I-5 during rush hour.

We made it in one piece (barely) and were late 15 minutes to the one hour laser show. But we got there just in time for the Ride of the Valkyries!

Laser Ring offered a condensed version of The Ring, with the best of music handpicked by the General Director, Speight Jenkins, accompanied with live commentary. The arias chosen came from different recordings, some featuring the Met Opera and Bayreuth Festival.

As we were "fashionably" late, it was pitch black by the time we got inside the laser dome. We sat on the floor, along with the scores of other people. The seats were filled up already but I think that being on the floor was the better way to see Laser Ring cuz you could really spread out or kick back.

When the laser lights were especially bright, I could make out the silhouettes of people laying down on their backs, some with pillows and blankets. It was like a giant slumber party!

The commentator's voice and enthusiasm reminded me of the fieldtrips I took in elementary school, where school kids would oooh and aaaah at what was being explained to us. There were quite a number of families at Laser Ring which I was glad to see. Get those kids young with the appreciation for opera!

When the show was over and the lights turned on, I was delighted to see that there were tables down at the front of the auditorium selling chips and other snacks, along with pop, beer and wine. Had we not been late, I would've totally indulged and am sure this would've added to the whole experience.

I risk sounding like a dork here, but I only wish that the sound was better. It may have been the recordings, (perhaps they were not re-mastered recordings) it may have been the speakers, but the music sounded a bit muddy and scratchy. It would've rocked so hard if you could hear the music THX, Dolby surround sound style. Because it's all about the music, you know.

However, everyone looked like they had a lovely time. Overall an enjoyable experience and a great way to bridge newcomers or the opera-curious to the world of opera.

~ Ling Chan

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