MOVING ON TO VALHALLA!
I woke Saturday morning to a world shrouded in fog and mists …
which was a fitting start for a day I would spend enclosed in a theater watching an epic six-hour opera filled with gods, demigods, dragons, dwarfs, giants, and a HERO! Yes, it was time for SIEGFRIED –the third part of the Metropolitan Opera’s new Wagnerian Ring Cycle which was transmitted live via high-definition satellite to theaters around the world.
SIEGFRIED is the orphaned child of an incestuous relationship between Siegmund and Sieglinde who are the twin offspring of the god Wotan and a human who has been raised since birth by the Nibelung dwarf Mime. Siegfried is a youth of 18 who has never known fear and Mime who doesn’t even like him has only raised him to kill the giant Fafner who has been magically transformed in to a dragon and guards the gold originally stolen from the Nibelung by Wotan two operas earlier.
If that sounds complicated, it is! And the part of Siegfried is the most challenging in all of opera. The tenor who sings it is on stage singing almost all the time during the opera’s five to six-hour length. To complicate matters even more, two tenors who were supposed to sing the role were forced to drop out because illness — the second falling ill just two days prior to the dress rehearsal.
Enter the hero … from Paris, Texas? Jay Hunter Morris is a young tenor who had sung the role in another production of the opera this summer in San Francisco. Flying to New York and working non-stop with the director he was able to master the role for the opening night performance. On stage he sings like a heroic German demigod, but behind the scenes he sounds like a down home boy who is “thrilled to be singing in such of fantastic theater in front of such a big band.”
His performance and the entire production was totally mind-blowing!
I’m adding two video clips to capture a bit of the performance. To capture the full effect of the stage design, I’d suggest clicking the small square formed by four arrows in the lower right hand corner of each video box to view in full screen glory.
The first is from act one where Siegfried forges his mighty sword Nothung. Check the water cascading over the edge of the stage into the pool.
The second is the opening of the third act and it demonstrates the gigantic movable stage that becomes the scenery with the aid of 3-D projections. Watch Wotan turn the lake into the top of a craggy mountain.
The opera received a tremendous ovation both at the Met and in the Esquire where I saw it. And thanks to the conductor who keep the music flowing at a steady pace, the opera actually finished a half hour ahead of schedule. Best production so far this year!