Much as I love -- or, let's say, revere -- Wagner's stupendous game plan, it strikes me as lazy thinking, this assumption that an opera company doesn't earn its place on the map without a Ring under its belt. If we must posit the list of what the L.A. Opera owes its audience, many items come to mind, most of them more necessary (and more practicable) than this pie-in-the-sky project. Under the Wagner rubric there is, for starters, Die Meistersinger, a work that could restore anyone's faith in Wagner -- and, for that matter, in opera itself. (Peter Hemmings promised it once, but then backed down.) The company owes a huge Verdi deficit: a Don Carlo and Ballo in Maschera to atone for previous misdeeds, a Forza del Destino long overdue, a Simon Boccanegralikewise. And imagine a company so lopsided on matters Russian that it can give us Pique Dame and Lady Macbeth but never yet a Boris Godunov. Sondheim, anyone? What a ravishing A Little Night Music that stage could hold! Against these problems, all this talk about War and Peace and the Skywalker RanchRing might strike observant outsiders as unbalanced. Some insiders, too.