But! You can't predict whether this production will work, if the American angle will infuse the operatic sequence a juicy underlying story. Das Rheingold is a prequel of sorts. And insofar as opera goes, it's on the short side (two-and-a-half hours with no intermission). What's more, it's very male dominated, which isn't a plus in this case, and ultimately devoid of the passionate-love theme that sears the rest of the series.

In the end, the American setting is only an accessory to the music, which, we should note, was performed superlatively.

Above, the Rhinemaidens (Catherine Cangiano, Lauren McNeese and Buffy Baggott); below Fricka and Wotan (Jennifer Larmore and Mark Delavan); and Günther Groissböck and Andrea Silvestrelli (the giants Fafner and Fasolt) with Tamara Wapinsky (Freia). Photo credit: Terrence McCarthy, SF Opera