When we reported a few days back that Hartford, Connecticut, was staging a Ring with a funny-sounding canned orchestra, there was a wave of understandable shock and outrage across the music world. The festival has just issued this response, for what it’s worth:
See Update below.
A Statement from the Hartford Wagner Festival
This project of presenting “Das Rheingold” was originally conceived to use a digital orchestra and was never intended to use a live orchestra. There was never an opportunity for instrumentalists to be involved in the first place and consequently there is no loss of work for them. The project was solely designed to employ and test the use of a digital orchestra in a performance situation as the state of the art of sampled instruments has progressed immensely in recent years.
The project was also designed to give American singers the ability to try out these roles in a smaller theater and add them to their resumes which would allow them the opportunity to perform the roles in larger houses here and abroad. All of our artists and their managements were aware of the scope of the project and agreed to perform knowing that we would be utilizing a digital orchestra. The excitement within our organization has continued to build as we come closer to our performances.
Once again, however, let me reiterate that the project was never intended to use anything other than a digital orchestra and therefore no opportunities for instrumentalists have been lost. We have, however, provided opportunities for 32 singers, conductors, pianists, production staff etc. that they would not have had without our production of “Das Rheingold.”
UPDATE, June 16:
It is with great sadness that we must announce that the 2014 production of “Das Rheingold” has been postponed until next year due to the vicious and coordinated attacks on the Hartford Wagner Festival by the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) which have forced the resignations of our Music Director and two of our performers with threats of loss of future work.
We continue to support all our local musicians as we have stated from the beginning of our project and we hope that our patrons will continue to support them as well.
The Hartford Wagner Festival, Inc.