Coloratura Christian

I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. (Psalm 34:4-5)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Lord of the Rings Meets Ikea

We saw the Canadian Opera Company's version of Gotterdammerung (the doom of the gods) last night, the final opera of Wagner's famous 'Ring Cycle'. In it, hatred and greed for a powerful golden ring causes the downfall of the gods, but the ring is finally destroyed in the only place it can be, the Rhine river, saving the world of mortals.

It was about 5 hours long, and yet I can't say I was bored for a minute. Between the singers and the orchestra, it was overwhelmingly pleasurable. The music was epic, dark and hauntingly beautiful. At least three soloists had the ability to pierce us with their singing. They had that indefinable quality that gives you tingles all over.

It is amazing to me that someone could compose 5 hours of genius music without relying on repetition to fill time. For those of you who don't know opera, most of it is extremely repetitive and has little breaks, sometimes with spoken text between the arias, recitatives and chorus numbers. Wagner's operas are composed straight through, always changing to accompany the libretto, with no major musical repetitions, and the music keeps flowing between scenes.

There are repetitive motifs or themes woven throughout the opera. Clint was more astute in picking these out than I was, but once we figured out which was which, it was pretty fascinating. For instance, there was always Siegfried's horn motif before he arrived on a scene, and the 'ride of the Valkyries' motif played when Brunnhilde's sister, the Valkyrie Waltraute, came to visit her.

There was one aspect of the opera that I didn't particularly like. They set the scene in modern times with Ikea-like furniture and flat screen computer monitors. Somehow they managed to pull it off. We didn't even blink when the Nibelung warrior's wore modern black business suits while carrying tall silver spears. The only thing they couldn't represent in this modern setting was Brunnhilde's horse.

All that to say, I would love to see the original Viking setting of the Ring Cycle, with yellow braids and horned metal helmets, but I was more than satisfied with being able to experience this version.


Post a Comment

<< Home