Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Siegfried: Not to be missed (or is it?)

To go, or not to go, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous Wagner,
Or to take arms against operatic pressure
And by staying home... well, miss it.

The great composer Giaochino Rossini once said of his esteemed colleague, "Wagner has some good moments, but some bad quarters of an hour."  Others, however, (himself included,) hail him as the greatest composer who ever lived.  Certainly, he had a great influence on most music that came after him, and particularly on the development of verismo opera.  Basically, people either love him or hate him.  Period, end of story.  There is no middle ground.  Either he is the genius who revolutionized the use of harmony,tonality, and leitmotifs, or he's the guy who pierces our eardrums with the stereotypical sopranos in horned helms.

But love him or hate him, Wagner's Ring cycle is an event that every opera lover must experience at least once in his or her lifetime.  And only once, if they fall into the second category.  Nobody should be forced to go through that a second time.  I put in my time when I was 14 years old, at the Seattle Opera, which is famous for its Ring cycles.  It was an exciting experience: all the drama and action, and the sheer grand scale of it all.  However, (in case you couldn't already tell,) I'm one of those people whose opinion about Wagner falls into that second category.  Maybe it's because I haven't really taken the time to get to know the music better.  Or maybe because it really does make one's eardrums bleed.  Either way, I was not planning on going to see the Met's HD broadcast.  I already missed last season's transmissions of Das Rheingold and Die Walkure, and I was not too distraught about that.
But then I saw the casting.  One word: perfect.  Siegfried is sung by Jay Hunter Morris, and I can't imagine anyone looking the part more. 

Deborah Voigt is Brunnhilde, and she is also perfect for the role.  And then there's Bryn Terfel as the Wanderer.  I could almost believe that Wagner had him in mind when he conceived the character.  I was blown away when I saw the YouTube clips of him in Die Walkure.  He almost made me want to watch the whole thing.  All four operas.  From start to finish.  All fourteen hours, plus intermissions.  Wait, fourteen hours of this?!?  Really???  I'd have to be crazy to do that!
Seriously, though, this production looks absolutely brilliant, for what it is.  I know that doesn't sound too enthusiastic, but hey, I'm trying here.  I may just bite the bullet and go to see this.  Then again, I may not.  I'll let you know.   

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