14 May 2011: Wagner, Die Walküre

Metropolitan Opera Live in HD production. Deborah Voigt as Brünnhilde, Bryn Terfel as Wotan, Eva-Maria Westbroek as Sieglinde, Stephanie Blythe as Fricka, Jonas Kaufmann as Siegmund. James Levine, conductor. The new Robert LePage production

The first act of this opera is as static as any I know, and the large scale on which Wagner operates means that it is static for nearly two hours. Fortunately, the action picks up in subsequent acts, and one comes away after the five-hour-plus length of this piece with much appreciation for what is surely vintage Wagner, encapsulated in this instance by the remarkable, computer-driven forces of the newly designed all-encompassing setting by Carl Fillion featuring parallel “planks,” each of which has a computer embedded in it, and which work correlatively and in tandem to represent any setting from hell to heaven and in between — and which can be lighted magnificently well, and is. Add to this the superb voices of a premium international cast (well, all opera casts are international, of course, and have been for years), and you have a memorable representation of Wagnerian myth-in-the-making.

I am writing this note a good three weeks after we saw this production, and I am sorry to say it has not stuck with me very well, for all its spectacle and impassioned expression. Having now at last caught up with the chronicling of my play- and opera-going, I may now be able to write again just hours after having seen something and so have a clearer, more detailed impression to record.


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An American Playgoer at Home by Joseph Donohue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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