Who knew opera could be so contentious? First, appreciator Rip Rense writes that the April 3 premiere of Los Angeles Opera’s production of Richard Wagner’s “Götterdämmerung” at the Music Center was roundly booed by the audience. Not just booed, but Rense says: "In the 40 years that I have attended concerts and operas in Los Angeles at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, I have never heard anything close to the amount, volume, and ferocity of the booing..." When director Achim Freyer bounced on stage, the booing intensified, Rense says. His beef, though, is that Times' critic Mark Swed didn't report the reaction in his review.
The omission can only be described, by any reasonable journalistic standard, as irresponsible.
At the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, where I used to work with Swed, it would have been scandalous, and I would venture to say, possible grounds for sacking. It gives me little pleasure to write this, as Swed is a brilliant, collegial fellow with whom I have enjoyed many a musical discussion....
He didn’t bury the lede---he never wrote one. This is like going to a mayoral press conference that ends in assassination and leading with what the mayor said.
Swed responds at Rense's site. And last night at the Museum of Tolerance, a lecture on the Ring Festival was interrupted by a heckler who continued so long that county Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, in the audience, apparently moved to physically evict him.
Additional voice: OC Register critic Timothy Mangan liked the opera, but agreed with Rense that when Freyer came out for bows at the end, "he was greeted with the loudest chorus of boos that I have ever heard." There also was a standing ovation, Mangan said — which just goes to show you the complexity of this topic. (Rense says: "A lot of people were standing so they could see when Freyer took the stage, in order to boo.")