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Dr. Evan Baker – The "Rube Goldberg" Effect in Wagner Productions

November 8, 2014 - 9:00 am

A Rube Goldberg Machine is an over-engineered contraption designed to perform a simple task in a complicated way.  Wagner’s operas are never easy to produce, and the implementation of special effects – the sinking of the Holländer’s ship, swimming Rheindaughters, and the Verwandlung (change of scenery) in Parsifal are prime examples.  Nonetheless, stage designers, theater technicians, and stagehands are an exceedingly clever group of people.  Their solutions to these effects may seem complicated and “Rube Goldbergese,” but in actuality, the execution was quite simple.  A look “behind the scenes” in the creation of these effects with audio, animation, and digital examples will be offered, along with a recreation of the original Verwandlung from the forest to the Temple of the Grail in Parsifal.

Baker recently published From the Score to the Stage on University of Chicago Press. Baker’s book received the Prose Award for the Best Book on Music and the Performing Arts from the Association of American Publishers.

Phillip Gossett also gave high praise to Dr. Baker’s book in a recent review in The New York Review of Books.


A review from Academia.edu: 



Program begins at 1:00 p.m.     Free to members, non-members $10



3200 California Street (at Presidio)

San Francisco, CA 94118


November 8, 2014
9:00 am

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