July 29, 2005
Volume 33
Issue 30

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Bits & Bytes
Seattle Opera's Wagner Ring cycle; Gay Marine porn star tells all...twice
by Milton W. Hamlin - SGN A&E Writer

It's another terrific week for Seattle's GLBT entertainment fans and another great week for "Bits & Bytes." A former openly Gay member of the U.S. Marine Corps tells all about his life as a Gay porn star on Tuesday and Wednesday, an openly Gay Broadway actor tells his story of adolescent sexual molestation in Intiman's powerful staging of The Tricky Part, Seattle's Gilbert & Sullivan Society winds up its delightful summer staging of Patience, the often-riotous send up of Gay icon Oscar Wilde and his aesthetic gang of poets, painters and pretenders.

Seattle Opera is readying its 2005 edition of its "green" Ring which opens Aug. 7, and SO's founding artistic director, Glynn Ross, is given a fond farewell in a memorial service Wednesday at St. Mark's Cathedral. Sunny Sings Sinatra at Crepe de Paris-and the talented blonde clearly loves "Bits & Bytes" and SGN. The popular Showcase Cabaret Series offers Sunday shows at Thumper's Cabaret On The Hill series. It's another busy week for "Bits & Bytes"-and for Seattle entertainment fans.


Diehard Wagner Ring fans who procrastinated are spending the week on the phone or in line at Seattle Opera's box office window hoping for last minute cancellations or turned in tickets for the four-part opera landmark. The first of Seattle Opera's three cycles opens Sunday, Aug. 7. Performances continue through Aug. 28.

Best chances for scoring 2005 Ring tickets involve persistence. Call the box office frequently and be flexible. One friend was told no tickets were available but found out that rephrasing the question to include single tickets in different seating areas at different price ranges resulted in tickets to all four Ring productions in the same cycle. Another friend, with travel conflicts, scored tickets to all four parts by asking for single tickets in all three cycles-he will see The Ring over a three-week period, not in the six night span that Wagner intended-but he will see The Ring this summer.

Another friend is attending many of The Ring low-cost or free lectures and previews and the in-depth Symposium series and letting everyone know that she needs tickets. Serious Ring patrons often buy their tickets months and months ahead of time and conflicts result in cancellations, especially in group tours.

One tried-and-true method is to simply show up at McCaw Hall a couple of hours before each performance and watch for patrons with extra tickets for sale. With a seating capacity of 2,800, the remodeled opera house often finds opera fans anxious to sell "Aunt Martha's tickets" since she can't attend. And be sure to ask about available tickets for the whole series. One patron was astonished to get tickets to all four parts when he thought he had only a ticket to opening night-"the nice couple had planned to sell each separate ticket each night-they were delighted to unload the whole series in one quick transaction." Be sure to bring lots of cash for resold tickets.

Seattle Opera is offering a zillion Ring events-free lectures, low cost previews, a "tech talk" series, a Question & Answer Evening series with Speight Jenkins, Seattle Opera's general director, the intensive symposiums. One rarity that is high on "Bits & Bytes'" calendar is the three showings of the nearly forgotten 1913 silent film, The Life Of Richard Wagner. The 70-minute epic-extremely long for a 1913 film-includes a new score by Barry Seaman and a lecture from film historian Dr. Paul Fryer. Check with Seattle Opera at (206) 389-7676 for details on all events and all performances.

Wagnerians-new and life-long enthusiasts-should be sure to check out the summer issue of Seattle Opera Magazine, available at the opera and at all performances and many events. One fascinating article, Wagner's Own Staging of "The Ring," by Stewart Spencer answers many questions Ring fanatics have always asked about the original Ring performances. Another article, Seattle Opera's "Ring:" Three Productions, Three Approaches, chronicles the history of The Ring at Seattle Opera since 1975. The photo essay with text by Speight Jenkins, SO's current artistic director, is a visual highlight of the summer-and a trip down memory lane for many Wagner buffs with long and happy memories of The Ring at Seattle Opera.


Glynn Ross, the founding artistic director for Seattle Opera, was the man with the vision to bring Wagner's The Ring to Seattle Opera in 1975. He died last week in Arizona at 90 years of age. His memorial service is next Wednesday, Aug. 3, at St. Mark's Cathedral at 2:00 p.m.

He headed Seattle Opera for nearly 20 years before an abrupt, emotionally charged departure. Making lemonade out of career lemons, he quickly moved to Arizona Opera as its new artistic director. In short order, he whipped that troubled company into artistic and financial shape and quickly planned Arizona Opera's first Ring cycle.

"Bits & Bytes," then writing for another Seattle paper, was one of the few Emerald City journalists who attended the Arizona Ring-a major triumph for the small company. As a Seattle-based journalist, this scribe was asked to sit at Ross' table for the gala Ring luncheon. It was an emotionally highlight of this reviewer's long journalistic career-Ross was obviously "the man of the moment," but he took time to reflect on his extraordinary Seattle Opera career. In 19 years as artistic director, Ross and Seattle Opera never ended a season "in the red." Whatever he had to do to balance the books, Ross happily did to make sure Seattle Opera had a secure future.

Ross' memorial service next Wednesday should be an emotional highlight of the year for Seattle's diverse arts and musical community. "Bits & Bytes" wouldn't miss it. The memorial service is open to the public.


"Bits & Bytes" originally joined the SGN arts team many years ago as editor of a book review column, "Book Look." Happy memories of that bygone era returned this week when announcements arrived about two readings next week by Rich Merritt who is touring to publicize his new autobiography, Secrets Of A Gay Marine Porn Star.

There are few words or phrases dearer to "Bits & Bytes" and the whole SGN arts staff, the famous (maybe infamous) SGN "dream team," than "Gay," "Marine," "Gay Marine" or "porn star." So, the incredible true-to-life combination of all of these makes Secrets Of A Gay Marine Porn Star a "must read" for SGN staff members-and many SGN loyal readers.

Merritt reads from his "scandalous" autobiography on Tuesday, Aug. 2, at 12:30 p.m. at the downtown Barnes & Noble. The rare daytime reading should be a major draw for downtown workers who could brown bag lunch and learn a thing or two. Details at (206) 264-0156.

Merritt also reads Wednesday night, Aug. 3, at Bailey/Coy Books, the very Gay-friendly bookstore on Broadway. Details on the 7:30 p.m. event are available at (206) 323-8842.

The two readings should be packed with Seattle's famous crowd of book enthusiasts who traditionally pack reading by even the most prosaic authors. The Emerald City's GLBT book fans will clearly arrive early for up-close seating. Military recruiters should find the events of great appeal under the "career opportunities" label. Details to follow. Remember, "Bits & Bytes" told you to go.
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