2.14.2012

Upon Watching Götterdämmerung

I've done it! I've survived six hours of Wagnerian opera! [riotous applause]

Götterdämmerung. What can I say about thee? Since seeing it I chatted with a local, retired musicologist, Travis Rivers, over lunch. He also attended the Met in HD performance and told me it was his tenth viewing of that opera!

Here are my observations:
  1. My German is getting a lot better! I could really track with a lot that was being sung without subtitles. 
  2. The Met's "Machine" was very impressive. Check it out if you haven't seen it yet. Some criticisms have been that this moveable, robot stage is sort of distracting. I would agree, but I still liked it. The colors and effects they got out of it was amazing, as was the manipulations from landscape to castle turrets to the Rhine to funeral pyre. Very imaginative. At times it reminded me more of the Millenium Falcon, which in its own way detracted from my overall sense of...
  3. Production concept. It was a bit dissonant to have folk dressed in Teutonic-accurate garb wielding swords and spears right alongside fake horses that look like they're from a Dali painting, and the "Machine's" minimalistic aesthetic. It was very Star Wars, robots and swords. Gunther even looked a bit like Emperor Palpatine.
  4. The behind the scenes footage they aired during the breaks were delightful. It's amazing to hear all these trained singers performing in beautiful, operatic German, and then to hear them talking in their own English voices. I especially loved how Jay Hunter Morris (Sigfried) had that amazing, high, lilting Texas accent. He also admitted that he had never sat through all the Ring Cycle, which should be encouraging for anyone.
Unfortunately I cannot say that I have seen videos of all four operas of the Ring cycle. I'm missing a viewing of Sigfried. Regardless here are my choice words of advice to the tortured characters of this final chapter of an amazing saga.
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  1. Don't have a world-view that has ragnarok. It's just setting you up for failure.
  2. The curse of the Gold is a lot like the dilema from The Cat in the Hat Comes Back. If you aren't familiar with that piece of literary excellence, the Cat in the Hat returns on a snowy day and eats cake with pink frosting in the bath tub. When he gets out, there is a pink ring around the tub. He cleans it with a dress, but now the dress is pink. He cleans that with something else, but everything just ends up getting pink! It's a true dilema which is only solved by shooting the pink with pop guns and a deus ex machina involving a cataclysmic cleansing explosion. The same thing happens in Götterdämmerung. Everyone keeps getting cursed. The only way to fix it all in this story, though, is for everything to burn. Very J.R.R. Tolkien.
  3. Lastly, everyone should just try eHarmony.com, like, once. Come on! Love is out there and you don't have to drug or cheat or force anyone to marry you.

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