There’s no doubt that the most recent production of Wagner’s ‘Ring Cycle’ at the Met was a monumental undertaking. But Lepage’s notorious 45-ton “Machine” aside, getting behind the scenes is the best way to get a sense of what really went into a project that could only be a team effort. Wagner’s Dream is a film documentary from Susan Froemke (The Audition) that attempts just that, and in a way few other films about opera have succeeded.
Although the film was commissioned by the Met as part of the production hoopla, this is no mere behind-the-scenes chronicle, nor is it either a puff piece to support the Met or the type of gossipy snark that hopes to win viewers by capitalizing on reality-style drama. This film neatly avoids those pitfalls, and aiming instead to enlighten its audience about the complexity behind the curtain, and the resulting documentary has received a solidly positive response from the film community as well as from opera buffs. With warm reviews from LA Times‘ Kenneth Turan, the New York Times (who labeled it a “Critic’s Pick”), Variety and even Rotten Tomatoes (who are a notoriously tough bunch to impress), The Hollywood Reporter‘s John DeFore praises the filmmakers for avoiding melodrama over the productions’ mixed reviews and placing the focus firmly on the artists who made the shows happen (and survived!).
There’s still time to see it in theaters, as Laemmle is featuring it on three screens this week (through Aug 2). Take a friend, and build your own assessment… quickly!