Friday, May 20, 2011

My Ride with the Valkyries

Last Saturday my wife and I went to the Metropolitan Opera HD broadcast of Die Walküre at our local multiplex theatre in West Jordan. I had been looking forward to this event all season. I am a big Wagner fan. I have even said that one must love opera to just like Wagner, and I love Wagner. Not his politics, prejudices and life style, but his glorious music. I once heard Jim Swejda on KUSC quote or make his own statement that Wagner used up all his goodness in his music and had nothing left for his "real" life. At lease that is what I remember him saying after these many years. We were at the theatre from 10:45 until about 4:30. There was a thirty minute delay at the beginning because they were having trouble with the set computer.

Anyway, my wife is not as great a fan of opera as I am, but she does go with me to the broadcasts from time to time. She was looking forward to this production as well I, but perhaps, not with the same degree of enthusiasm. We both thought the principle singers were stupendous, the acting well done, the emotional tension tremendous. And we quite enjoyed the set, or the "machine" as the cast and crew call it, especially how it was used in the Walkürenritt "ride of the Valkyries" and the magic fire at the end of the opera.

Deborah Voigt
 Deborah Voigt (Brünnhilde) was quite attractive and delightful in her flowing red wig hefting her spear and shield. We saw her last  in La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West) as a blond. Bryn Terfel (Wotan) was imposing and powerful. Jonas Kaufmann (Siegmund) was electrifying. His voice and passion remind me of my favorite Siegmund, Lauritz Melchior, at least in the recording made in 1941 with Astrid Varnay as Sieglinde. I am looking forward to seeing him next year in Faust. Eva-Maria Westbroek (Sieglinde) was lovely, and the passion and tension and acting between her and Kaufmann drove the first act to a wild and emotionally satisfying conclusion. I could watch and listen to the last half of the fist act over and over again.

One of my favorite parts of the HD broadcasts is the backstage interviews, and the live camera shots of the crew changing and preparing the sets for the next act. The Met crew is fantastic as they work against the intermission clock.

My wife wants to go to New York and see a production live just to say we have been there. I like the HD live broadcasts because it fills the theatre screen, you can see their faces close up, and you have fascinating entertainment during the intermissions. But still, it would be fun to see an opera live in the Met.