Wagner's Ring: Check with Your Doctor Before Attending

The Seattle Opera waits for no one. Even among other opera companies, it's famous for never, ever holding a curtain. This is not just polite opera etiquette, or consideration for the expensive time of very rich people, but a matter of finance: When a performance runs past midnight, union fees (not only for the orchestra, but for the whole crew) skyrocket into double and triple overtime. However, last week, a performance of Die Walküre was delayed for a half-hour when a man in the audience collapsed and needed medical attention. The initial gossipy estimates of the opera's overrun were up in the stratospheric half-million-dollar range, but according to Tina Ryker, Seattle Opera's lovely and helpful P.R. person, it was well under $10,000 for both crew and orchestra. The unlucky operagoer recovered, and was back in time for Götterdämmerung.

Memoiristic Interlude

The above grisly report reminds me of something that happened when I was a small child in New York, and I went with my parents to see a performance of Peter Pan, starring Sandy Duncan and her glass eye. Being an absolute nut over Peter Pan--I think I had a crush on the boyish, unthreatening Peter (not on Sandy, however)--I was following the story very carefully, and noticed that after intermission, Smee had gone missing. Other characters took his lines, which created a very strange effect for someone who knew the story as well as I did. In the dark of the theater, I whispered as much to my parents, who shushed me, unimpressed. The next day, my father heard on the radio that the actor had suffered a heart attack at intermission and died. Needless to say, my parents treated their super-observant daughter with a bit more respect after that, as if her noticing the actor's disappearance had somehow caused his death. And then she grew up to be a critic. Funny.

Brand-New Forms of Tuberism... I Mean Terrorism

In related news, Reuters reports that 2,000 balletgoers were evacuated from London's Royal Opera House last week when a baked potato exploded in a backstage microwave, causing a fire alarm to go off. After 20 minutes, the audience was allowed to return to the theater (in England, they say "theatre") for the rest of the performance. No one has claimed responsibility for the potato, but I suspect the IRA.


...at Project 18, an installation of site-specific sculpture at Sand Point's Magnuson Park: A child, about four years old, looking at Brad Miller's heap of 50,000 pennies, remarked, "If that's art, I'm the king of England." If so, he'd better get on the stick and do something about that pesky colony sending exploding baked potatoes into the Opera House.

It's Tempting to Make a Pun about Art for the Birds, but I Won't

Lastly, at the same art exhibition, Katie Kurtz and Kurt Kiefer, the show's curators, were surprised to find a piece of unidentified sculpture. On the show's opening day, they found an old-fashioned typing table covered in peanut butter and birdseed next to Leslie Clague's Project #1. Clague's installation consists of an airplane that appears to have missed its landing strip, crashed, and half-buried itself in the ground. The trail of seed leading up to the table looks like an avian runway, suggesting that the two works are connected, but Clague vehemently denies any knowledge of how it came to be there. I have my own theories... but look at that--I've run out of space. Ta-ta!