Ring in Your Pocket 

Condensed Ring makes Wagner digestible


Praise and damnation have been heaped upon Richard Wagner's fifteen-hour, four-opera Ring cycle ever since its completion in 1874. One of the most extended (overblown?) Romantic statements in musical literature, the Ring helped pave the way for the sonic experimentation of the present day. And its opening opera, Siegfried, lasting two and a half hours without intermission, has caused more bladder mishaps than Rheingold beer. On March 6, 10, 12, and 14, Berkeley Opera celebrates its 25th year of risk-taking by plunging its sword directly into the heart of Wagner's epic and emerging with The Legend of the Ring, a one-evening pocket condensation of the supersized epic. Created by David Seaman for Pocket Opera Nuremberg, the much-praised production features several singers with international reputations, including Seattle Opera's next Elsa. Artistic director Jonathan Khuner brings a wealth of experience to Berkeley Opera's four performances at the Julia Morgan Theater. Hardly a stranger to Wagnerian excess, Khuner has helped coach Ring cycles at Bayreuth, the Met, and San Francisco Opera. Marian Kohlstedt of Berkeley Opera describes the Legend as "a way that people who haven't felt they can sit through the whole thing can experience the wonderfulness of Wagner's music." The Berkeley production retains the music "that speaks to your heart and soul" while eliminating a Valhalla's worth of endless dialogue. Tickets: 925-798-1300 or BerkeleyOpera.org -- Jason Victor Serinus



Amalgam in Motion

In the Senegalese Wolof language, diamano coura means "those who bring the message." In terms of the Bay Area dance community, it means "those who bring the African diaspora together." This weekend, the Diamano Coura West African Dance Company hosts its ninth annual Collage des Cultures Africaines , with Diamano Coura, Dimensions Dance Theater, Savage Jazz, KaUa Tuahine Polynesian Dance Company, and many more at the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center and Alice Arts. There will be workshops Thursday through Saturday, a closing performance Saturday night, and a community breakfast Sunday. Info: 510-733-1077 or DiamanoCoura.org -- Stefanie Kalem

SAT 3/8

Battle Hymn of the Freeway

Don't panic if you see Confederate soldiers this Saturday in Moraga, waving their distinctive (and socially disruptive) Stars and Bars flag -- they'll no doubt be followed by a passel of pursuing Yankees. Yes, it's a Civil War Reenactment , staged in cooperation with the American and the National Civil War Associations, at the Saint Mary's College intramural sports fields, complete with firing cannons, a period field surgery unit, a war correspondent sending dispatches by telegraph, and even camp followers. But will they eat hardtack? The blues and the grays take to the field of battle at 10 a.m. and fight until 2. Admission and parking are free. 1928 Saint Mary's Rd., Moraga. For more information call 925-631-4000 or STMarys-CA.edu -- Kelly Vance


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