SILVERDOCS: ‘Wagner’s Dream’ by Bari Biern

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Wagner’s Dream (USA) 112 minutes

Richard Wagner spent 25 years composing the Ring Cycle, a 16-hour magnum opus, largely based on Norse and German myths. The Ring is comprised of four operas (Das Rheingold, Die Walkure, Siegfried, and Götterdämmerung). Even by grand opera standards, the Ring has always been a beast to produce, requiring outsized commitments of time, talent and financing.

Deborah Voigt in 'Götterdämmerung.' Photo by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera.

Wagner’s Dream, directed by Susan Froemke, is the story of the latest incarnation of the Ring at the Metropolitan Opera, under the direction of Canadian Robert Lepage. The centerpiece of all four operas is a single set, made up of 24 giant cedar planks, rigged to rise, lower, tilt and turn in myriad formations.

Clearly, this is a high-risk undertaking for all involved, starting with Met General Manager Peter Gelb, who is banking on the new production to lift the company out of the doldrums and give it new relevance for the 21st century.

Soprano Deborah Voigt is also the focus of the film, as she prepares to sing her first Brunnhilde in this ambitious new production. The role alone is challenging enough, but Voigt also has tremendous trepidation about working on the 90,000 lb. ‘machine,’ which can malfunction without notice. Any number of calamities can befall the singers, making every performance a nail-biter for everyone on and offstage.

Wagner’s Dream is a terrific documentary, a genuine roller coaster ride through the perils of creating and mounting a production that is well outside the comfort zone of an opera institution and its discriminating and demanding audience. The stakes couldn’t be higher – and that makes for riveting filmmaking.

Remaining Performances
Friday, June 22 at 2:30 pm
Sunday, June 24 at 5:15 pm

Purchase tickets here.

LINK

Wagner’s Dream website.

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Bari Biern
Bari Biern is an actress/playwright/lyricist whose first musical, 'A Dance Against Darkness: Living with AIDS' (with composer Roy Barber) was nominated for Helen Hayes Awards as Outstanding New Play and Outstanding Resident Musical. She wrote the lyrics for 'Riddle Me a Prince,' a children’s musical which premiered at Imagination Stage, with book by Ernie Joselovitz and Harry Bagdasian, and music by Emmy Award winner, Lenny Williams. She contributes lyrics to the political satire troupe, the Capitol Steps, and has been performing with them since 1993. Bari was the lyricist for the critically-acclaimed In Series production of 'The Marriage of Figaro: Las Vegas Version.' That opera (with dialogue by Elizabeth Pringle) was presented by Philadelphia’s Poor Richard’s Opera Company as part of the 2010 Philly Fringe Festival. Poor Richard’s also presented 'Gianni Schicchi,' featuring Bari’s English libretto. In 2011, Bari was the librettist for WAM2, a co-production of the In Series and the Washington Ballet. She also wrote the script for the In Series’ 'Arlen Blues & Berlin Ballads,' which premiered earlier this year. Bari has reviewed theatre and film in the DC area for WAMU-FM’s Metro Connection.