An Operatic Apocalypse: The Drumf and the Rhinegold at Turn Park Art Space

Yesterday we took a day trip to West Stockbridge, Massachusetts, lured by the chance to hear two of our favorite singers, Lucy Dhegrae and Ariadne Greif. Well, OK, also, we’d missed earlier performances of The Drumf and the Rhinegold, and it was way past time to make up for that cultural lack.

Greif reprised her role as Melania (a role she was born to perform), and Dhegrae took up the role of Marla. I bet, without much more information, you have an idea where this is headed, and you likely wouldn’t be wrong. But just in case, here’s the gist:

Having stolen the magical Rhinegold, which grants world domination to its owner, the sinister Drumf is now poised to become leader of the free world. The gold’s guardians, the beautiful Rhinemaidens Ivana, Marla and Melania, race against time to reclaim their gold from his grubby clutches. After the consecutive failures of Ivana and Marla, can Melania succeed in wresting the gold from Drumf before her time runs out?

For the creation of this uproarious 15-minute opera, we can thank composer Mátti Kovler; Tasha Gordon-Solmon, Kovler, and Gil Varod (book); and Gordon-Solmon, Kovler, Varod, Matthew Shifrin, and Toby Lightman (lyrics).

Each singer’s performance—Greif, Dhegrae, Casey Keenan (Ivana), and Matthew Shifrin (Rhinegold)—was delicious, fully inhabiting the opera’s subversive wit. Doug Fitch directed. The staging was ingenious, with audience, singers, and musicians moving in tandem as the opera proceeded through its three mini-acts. Alyona Gomberg, Tommy Nguyen and Misha Igoshin concocted the inspired costumes and set. The terrific musicians included Contemporaneous members Kate Dreyfuss (violin), Cameron West (French horn), and Fanny Wyrick-Flax (flute), as well as Evan Primo (bass) and several others whose names I wish I knew. These are musicians who take in stride everything thrown at them—including moving their music stands and instruments to new locations—without missing a beat.

Everyone in attendance left grinning like maniacs, with random bursts of laughter breaking out. This was aided and abetted by Greif. Without once breaking character, she swanned around, conveying essential information in her Slovenian accent (“I speak five languages, you know”) and directing photo shoots, like this:

And this:

And this:

The performance took place on the grounds of a quarry, now repurposed as Turn Park Art Space.

We took a turn around the grounds before heading home—a work in progress that’s already a feast for the eye everywhere you look.

Before the performance, we stopped in at No. 6 Depot for an early lunch, where we met up with one of our favorite composers, Shawn Jaeger. We’d spotted a bookstore, Shaker Mill Books, across the street, and Jaeger confirmed it was as good as it looked. Needless to say, that’s where we headed after lunch. J picked up a book about Dunkirk to add to her vast collection; I resisted temptation this time, but it wasn’t easy, and a return visit is on our bucket list.

 If you haven’t yet seen The Drumf and the Rhinegold, you must (as a friend of ours who, as it happens, just saw a stunning Ring in Budapest, is wont to say). Toward that end, a performance, complete with subtitles, is included in this post, below.

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Listening List

The Drumf and the Rhinegold, as performed on Halloween eve and Halloween, 2016

10 thoughts on “An Operatic Apocalypse: The Drumf and the Rhinegold at Turn Park Art Space

  1. shoreacres

    I started chuckling from the beginning, but when the line, “Think Law and Order” came along, I finally laughed out loud. The first time I wandered by, this didn’t appeal enough to me that I watched the video, but this time? I did, and it appealed very much to my parody-loving heart. (It is a parody, right? Right?) And isn’t it just the truth that no one knows how the seaweed gets into your hair! And the last line? SO funny!

    Now, here’s a sort-of-related tidbit for you. When I read that Anthony Scaramucci is the new WH communications director, my first thought was of the Scaramuccia. From the Encyclopedia Britannica:

    “Scaramouche, Italian Scaramuccia, stock character of the Italian theatrical form known as the commedia dell’arte; an unscrupulous and unreliable servant. His affinity for intrigue often landed him in difficult situations, yet he always managed to extricate himself, usually leaving an innocent bystander as his victim.”

    There’s nothing funny about what we’re enduring right now, but on the other hand, there are the occasional delightful coincidences.

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      Oh, indeed, a parody. You would have loved being there “live,” I think. Ariadne really was impossible, in the best possible way: she simply would NOT break character. Your Scaramuccia reference is priceless. Surely this can’t be a coincidence? Yes, nothing funny about what’s going on, you are SO right, so all the more precious if there’s something about it all that makes us laugh.

  2. shoreacres

    Ah – I see you’ve closed comments on earlier posts. I’ll just say that I found them most interesting: especially the added details on the Millstone Riots, which I knew about. I think you’ve written about the Riot Act before. Being “read the riot act’ was a common expression when I was growing up, and it never was pleasant.

    I’ll make an effort to be more timely with my reading from now on!

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      You are amazing, to have known about the Millstone riots. I’d no idea until I poked around after our visit to Derbyshire. And yup, don’t so many of us recall the expression “read the riot act”? Never pleasant, indeed.

  3. David N

    Endlich, I’ve seen it, and I think it’s splendid – the premise, the libretto, the music, especially the central aria. I get the feeling it could be fleshed out further to 30 or even 45 minutes – show, don’t tell, the denouement, find a stronger ending. But so well performed and staged. Congratulations to those gals. Bring it over here in new expanded form?

    1. Susan Scheid Post author

      David: So pleased you were able to find time to watch. I know, as you’re inundated and on the move a lot, it’s not so easy to do. I, too, loved that central aria and would enjoy a further fleshed out version.(I watched the video again recently and was laughing all over again–a welcome feeling in these times!)

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