Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gotterdammerung

I did it! I survived my first Wagner opera! More than survived.Actually enjoyed it. And it didn't feel like 6 hours! Gotterdammerung is the last opera in the Ring cycle. I had skipped the other 3 in the Met HD productions, but then decided to give this one a try. Now I'm sorry I didn't see the other operas, as this Met production is beautiful.

I think it's a tradition of sorts for Ring Cycle productions to be quite abstract, isn't it? Well, this one certainly meets the criteria, using a huge machinery to create the various settings - a rock surrounded by fire, the Rhine, a castle, the woods, you name it, the moving bars will represent it, with projections to match the mood.

The story was a lot simpler than I had expected. Brunnhilde loves Siegfried and Siegfried loves Brunnhilde. But Siegfried is given a love potion and  falls in love with Gutrune, then brings Brunnhilde to marry Gunther. Brunnhilde is furious and wants revenge. Siegfried is killed by Hagen. Brunnhilde finds out about Hagen's machinations to obtain the Ring and about the love potion. She jumps into Siegfried's funereal pyre with the ring and restores balance to the world. Over 4 hours or so (6 hours with intermissions and interviews).

The music was beautiful, and as I'm now discovering, full of leitmotifs, repeating musical themes that represent the various characters (the well know tututuuduuu tututuuduuu of the Valkyries, for instance), locations (the Rhine), objects (sword) and elements (fire). Apparently, the leitmotifs tell the story through the music, without the need for singing even. I would have to listen to it all again to really get that, though (I have the CD set, so no excuse). But if you're in the humour, take the leitmotif quiz from the Met Ring Cycle website. Apparently, my leitmotif is Valhalla!

The website is fabulous, by the way - making full use of all available media to get you into the opera - behind-the-scenes videos, information about the various characters, their relationships to others, their leitmotifs. I haven't finished exploring it yet! I should have gone through it before going to the opera!

And I haven't even told you about the singers - DeborahVoigt and Jay Hunter Morris. I'll be back soon!

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