|Met Ring 2000 - Die Walküre|
Wed. 24 May 2000
It is one thing to wake up on a Rheingold day- entirely another when the evening's entertainment is Die Walküre. I could actually live with a "Ring Trilogy", omitting Das Rheingold altogether: skipping the salad as it were, and going straight for the roast beef and potatoes.
Wagner was in a very excited state while writing Die Walküre and wrote to his friend Liszt: "I am in a very excited state". His head was filled with music and he went on: "My head is filled with music".
Mine was too, upon waking, as sounds and images from Das Rheingold were still in residence from the night before. To clean the slate in preparation for Walkure I went to a favorite spot in Central Park which is called Wagner Cove, named for a former New York Mayor called Harry Wagner. It seemed appropriate. Chicks and ducks and geese needn't scurry as I come to places such as these to relax and reflect and I leave the place as I find it, taking only pictures and mental refreshment away. Some turtles drifted by on a log, enjoying the sunshine.
A swan, making his way through the inept boaters going around in circles or running aground in the reed banks, brought my mind back to Richard Wagner. It was Lohengrin on a Met video that had first welcomed me to the Wagner realm and set in motion the travelling Odyssey-to attend Wagner performances-that will keep me in debt to Visa for all eternity.
This Odyssey has taken me to many different cities and locales in America and beyond, always in the best of company and even when the performances were less than hoped for there was compensation in the life I lead away from the theatre for who doesn't enjoy being "on vacation"?
I would love to have joined Terri and Wolf for the Ring in Stuttgart, but my understanding was that this May's Ring Cycle III was to be the last "hurrah" for the current production. I am hearing from unofficial sources that this is not so and that this production will return in 2003.
It has often been scorned for its representationalism, for its attempt to show, through the use of modern stage technology, a Ring that Wagner might visually recognise but had failed to realise given the restrictions of stage machinery and lighting back in 1876. There are and have been many different ways to bring it to the stage since and I feel the Met's is no less valid than those currently treading the boards worldwide.
I would welcome a new production, specifically one where there was a better use made of lighting, as Gil Wechsler seemed intent on recreating theatre lighting at the time of the first performance. Miners' helmets with flashlights attached might work in the dingy gloom that is a "Wechsler" stage picture. I don't need to see every tree and leaf in the Siegfried forest (and Gil seems to feel the same way) in a future production, and I would be happy not to "see" the dragon if it is going to be as unconvincing as the Bayreuth original, which was apparently comical to behold: let Siegfried fight it in the wings or in silhouette, and let the band bring us a blow-by-blow.
So, I chose New York over Stuttgart. There remains a temptation to try to attend further Stuttgart performances which will be held in October. I was back in the hotel with two hours to spare before the 6pm curtain. I sympathised with those of my acquaintance who were still at work or travelling home and having to rush to get to the theatre on time.
Espresso coffee was ordered and consumed from the tents erected outside Avery Fisher Hall. My group of dear friends assembled in the sunshine. While they talked excitedly at a small table, I stood alone to collect my thoughts: Das Rheingold was behind me and I now stood on the threshold of Hunding's Hut. With a deep breath and a glance over my shoulder at Broadway and the 21st century, I stepped inside.
To be continued......
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