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Friday, April 1, 2011

Sssssnake ssssignss for Sssssiegfried

The Bronx Zoo Cobra: "Mr Lepage, I'm ready for my close-up."
Photo by Julie Larsen Maher © Wildlife Conservation Society
At an early press breakfast Friday morning at the Bronx Zoo, the Metropolitan Opera introduced the newest member of the cast for its new production of Siegfried: the Bronx Zoo Cobra.

Met general manager Peter Gelb made the announcement. "This contract is an exciting new development in interspecies cooperation." Gelb enthused. "Through its long history, our stage has featured horses, donkeys, geese and Franco Zeffirelli. But this is our first professional reptile."

The cobra revealed that it had signed in exchange for a generous donation to the Zoo, all the mice it could eat, and a private afternoon recital played by the Met Orchestra's woodwinds. It will be filmed at director Robert Lepage's Montréal studio, where the director is putting the finishing touches on his production of Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen.

The snake, filmed and projected onto Mr. Lepage's $16 million dollar "Machine" set, will take the role of Fafner, the ferocious dragon that guards the Nibelung hoard in the second act of Siegfried. The part will be voiced by German bass Hans-Peter König.

"We feel that the cobra offers a fresh take on the character," Mr. Gelb explained. "We are very excited to be breaking this new ground."

In addition, the most famous snake in New York will be used in promotional images of the opera, a key part of the company's 2011-2012 ticket drive as the Met tries to build its subscription base for next year. The current campaign features portrait photos of Siegfried (sung by tenor Gary Lehman) and Brunnhilde (sung by soprano Deborah Voigt.) "Snakes are sexy," Mr. Gelb said. "And this little guy captured the imagination of an entire city. It can't hurt ticket sales either."

The snake was tabbed for the part shortly after engineering an escape from the House of Reptiles, and embarking on a series of adventures across New York City. The deadly Egyptian cobra became an internet sensation, launching her own Twitter account (@bronxzooscobra) and gaining 200,000 followers in a mere six days through the hash-tag #snakeonthetown.

In other news, British singing actor Daniel Radcliffe, who is currently appearing as J. Pierrepont Finch in the smash Broadway revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, has been signed to sing Siegfried at the Met in the spring of 2013.

"Dan's everything we could want in a Siegfried," a representative said. "He has the physical tools, robust stage presence and movie-star looks needed. Plus his experience as Harry Potter means he is at ease in the heroic world of Wagner's operas and fantastical worlds that make up our new Ring."

"However, we will have to fit him with a blond wig."
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.