Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Soundtrack of my life? Do I have one?

Vicki here.

Last week’s question about board games suited me perfectly. This one… not so much. I enjoy listening to music but I am totally tone deaf and really don’t know much about it, other than what I like.

I’ve been trying to learn a bit about opera. Being tone deaf, big brassy music is what I like best. Yesterday I went to my local theatre to see the Met live-via-satellite performance of Gotterdammerung. I bought my ticket in advance and when I got to the booth she said, “You know it’s six hours long?” No I didn’t know (see above for lack of musical education). However, I gamely bought my ticket thinking if I didn’t like it, I could leave during one of the two intermissions.
I did know enough to know that Gotterdammerung is but the fourth of a four part storyline. I have a book at home titled Tolkien’s Ring, which is an exploration of the influences on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (waiting for the LOTR question, here: That’s my niche!) The book contained the entire plot synopsis of Wagner’s Ring Cycle so at least I was able to attend the performance knowing what was going on.

I loved it! At the end, I found it hard to believe I’d been sitting there for six hours (nice comfy seats too). I loved the music, the costumes, the singers. The set, not so much, being more about light and technology than objects, but it was okay. The main character of Brunnhilde was sung by Deborah Voight and she was magnificent. Just spectacular. Interestingly, I find female voices in opera much more powerful than male voices. The best scene yesterday was between Brunnhilde and her Valkyrie sister. Waltraude, the second, the dramatic finale which is all Brunnhilde’s.

So, would I describe Gotterdammerung as the soundtrack of my life? Hardly. No magic rings, no heroes leaping through fire, no sleeping on a rock waiting to be rescued.
No hatred and betrayal, either.

But I loved the performance yesterday. I’d highly recommend that anyone who wants to expanse their musical experience, try attending on of these live performances.


Harbingerdc said...

I listened yesterday to a simulcast on one of my local public radio stations. It was a really top notch performance all the way around.

Scott Simon's interview with Jay Hunter Morris (Siegfried) that aired yesterday morning on Weekend Edition was really fascinating.

Charles Benoit said...

5 Forms of Music I Don't Like But Would Listen To Before Opera
- Metal (all forms)
- Country Western (modern)
- Free-form jazz
- 50s Do-Wop
- Phil Collins

But I'm glad you had a good time! And I am still amazed that your a LOTR fan as I could never get into the books or the movies. You Canadians are made of sterner stuff.

Vicki Delany said...

Charles, I have probably read LOTR twenty or more times. I saw the first movie in the theater 9 times, the others about the same. I am counting the days until Dec. 14 for the release of the Hobbit. Yet I don't care much for Fantasy novels. Go figure. And what's wrong with Phil Collins? (I'll agree with you on the rest).

Woodstock said...

You are very brave, to begin with Wagner! I had a brief exposure to Wagner in Music Appreciation in college, and was not impressed. Now that you have your feet wet, so to speak (in the Rhine, no less) listen to/attend as many operas as you can. The Met's Hi Def has La Traviata coming up, that's a good introduction to Italian stuff.

Yesterday, when Gunther went to rinse his hands of blood, and the music rose in intensity as Siegfried's body was carried away, I was absolutely overcome.

And, to discuss the set, yesterday's was probably the most effective use of the rather controversial design, of all the four operas which used it.

lil Gluckstern said...

This music is not usually recommended as an introduction to opera. I am so glad you liked it. I grew up with my dad playing the Ring pretty loud, and I still get chills when I here Siegfried's Funeral Music. Thank you for evoking some wonderful memories.