Jessie Catahoula, left, as Sieglinde, and Hugh Calloway as Siegmund rehearse for the Blacktip Island Community Players’ spring production of Wagner’s ‘Der Ring Des Nibelungen’ Thursday afternoon. (photo courtesy of יוסי צבקר)
The Blacktip Island Community Players Thursday announced the group will perform all four opera’s in Richard Wagner’s ‘Der Ring Des Nibelungen’ cycle in the original German for their annual spring theater fundraising extravaganza.
“We were tired of doing the same old ‘Tora Tora Tora’ and ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ fare,” BICP creative director Doris Blenny said. “As a joke, someone suggested Wagner, and the idea really took off. We couldn’t agree on which opera to do—Das Rheingold is the most accessible, but it’s really just a prelude—so we went ahead and committed to the whole 15-hour epic. It’ll last all spring. If enough people come.
“We’re scouring the dump and the beaches for props and costumes,” Blenny said. “Helen Maples is working with anyone interested on boosting their vocal ranges, and Alison Diesel is giving everyone German lessons. This production will truly showcase the unique talent we have on Blacktip.”
Many in the community said the choice was fitting.
“Operas about heroes fighting gods, then at the end everybody dies and Valhalla gets destroyed?” Corrie Anders said. “Sounds like a standard Saturday night at the Ballyhoo, frankly. I mean, people already call it ‘Brawl-holla. It’s perfect. The horned helmets and spears and whatnot’ll make it even better.”
Others were uncertain.
“When Doris said ‘Wagner’ I thought she meant Robert Wagner,” Stoney Macadam said. “Now I’m really confused. I didn’t know he had a brother, much less that the brother wrote musicals. In German. I’d have studied German if I’d known.”
The cast includes:
Marina DeLow as Wotan
Payne Hanover as Fricka
Hugh Calloway as Siegmund
Jessie Catahoula as Sieglinde
Elena Havens as Siegfried
Lee Helm as Brunhild
Linford Blenny as Alberich
Antonio Fletcher as The Norns
“Had plenty of time to kill, so I figured why not learn some basic, myth-specific German and give it a shot?” Jessie Catahoula said. “Now, none of us can sing worth a damn, but that adds to the rustic appeal. We’re even looking at live streaming it so off-island people can see it.
“What really blows me away is the sheer scope of this production,” Catahoula said. “We’re not just staging a one-hour musical number. This is the biggest opera there is. It’s a definite go big or go home opportunity.”
Blenny hopes the operas will inspire future performers.
“I think the little ones will really like the story and the singing,” she said. “People talk about opera being unapproachable, but I think just the opposite is true. The kiddos should love it. Especially the brass and drums at the end of Götterdämmerung when everyone dies.”
Proceeds of the performances will go to the Blacktip Island chapter of Habitat for Humanity.