Opera Review by Willard Manus

GOTTERDAMMERUNG, the conclusion of Richard Wagner's epic Ring tetralogy, was brought off recently in memorable (if controversial) fashion by Los Angeles Opera. The controversy had to do with Achim Freyer's direction and design. At a reputed cost of $32 million, he and his daughter Amanda created a vast, surreal world for GOTTERDAMMERUNG and the other Ring operas--all four of which will run in repertory in May and June. Puppets, masks, spectacular lighting effects, whimsical costumes, flying people and symbols were employed by Freyer in non-stop, precisely choreographed fashion, presenting a feast for the eyes--most eyes, that is (some boo-birds were heard when the designers took their post-performance bows).

On the whole, though, GOTTERDAMMERUNG must be counted as a major success for L.A. Opera., which labored for many years to find the resources and courage to produce a world-class version of Wagner's 5 1/2hr-long cycle-concluding opera. Thanks to the superb work of conductor James Conlon and his orchestra, and to such remarkable singers as Linda Watson (as Brunnhilde), John Treleaven (Siegfried), Eric Halfvarson (Hagen), Alan Held (Gunther) and Jennifer Wilson (Gutrune), GOTTERDAMMERUNG'S dark, turbulent story was brought to life with heart-rending beauty, power and profundity.

For tickets and information about the four Ring operas being performed in May & June at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., call 213-972-8001 or visit For information about Ring Festival LA, the citywide cultural extravaganza tied to the Wagner productions (dozens of special exhibitions, performances and symposia), visit