mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Glorious Music Ringing in My Ears


I am told that tickets are still available for the third and last performance of the Ring cycle at the Metropolitan Opera this spring. For anyone who cares about music or wants to see one of the greatest creations of the human spirit brilliantly realized, this is an opportunity not to be missed.

As the curtain rang down on Götterdämmerung at the end of the first cycle, the rapturous audience gave the all star cast and the stunning orchestra a standing ovation. Many in the audience—including yours truly—had been there for the full series. We watched with wonder and with awe as the greatest repertory theater company in the world put together an awesome presentation of the most challenging operatic masterpiece in world culture.

There were problems, of course; the controversial set had the usual creakings and glitches. It’s a brilliant concept and at times it adds enormously to the depth of the experience, but even the Met’s stagehands haven’t been able to get it to work reliably and that just isn’t good enough.

But an erratic set is no reason to miss night after night of amazing singing, moving acting and an unstoppable flow of great music masterfully played. Tickets to the third performance of the four opera cycle are on sale now; there aren’t many smarter investments around.

[Image of Brünnhilde and her Valkyrie sister Waltraute courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]

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  • WigWag

    The New York Times didn’t think much of Debra Voight’s performance (she’s usually brilliant). Anthony Tommasini called her singing “patchy and tremulous.” He said “her lower ranges continued to be a problem” and that her singing in the mid ranges often “wavered.” He attributes her shaky singing to the weight loss surgery she had in 2004.

    He acknowledged that the audience loved her and rewarded her with a rousing ovation. Perhaps Professor Mead can let his loyal audience know what he thought of her performance.

  • WigWag

    It might also be worth pointing out for those who are unaware of it that not only was Wager one of Hitler’s favorite composers, but that Wager (who died long before World War 2) was himself an anti Semite. He wrote a famous essay excoriating the influence of Jews on German culture and he bitterly resented the success of German Jewish composers, especially Felix Mendelssohn. Most music critics agreed at the time that of the two, Mendelssohn was the superior artist.

    The Ring Cycle is glorious but anyone who sees these operas understand immediately and intuitively what Hitler and his Nazi colleagues liked about them.

    • Corlyss Drinkard

      Presentism abounds.
      Wagner was a man of his times. For that matter Hitler was a man of his times as well, and truth to tell, given the preference for ethnic cleansing everywhere but in the “enlightened” west, he was pretty modern too. I don’t see what use it is to keep dragging Hitler’s fondness for Wagner up every time the latter comes up. It’s not as though we can raise the dead to make amends for acts we did not commit by rebuking Hitler and most of what he stood for.

    • TheCynical1

      Love the art, not the artist.

  • Corlyss Drinkard

    The image is worth more of a credit than it gets. It’s from Arthur Rackham’s marvelous illustrations to the Ring cycle. Dover has thoughtfully published the complete collection in one of their sturdy signature-sown paperbacks for a nominal price.

    I have to admit to only occasionally feeling in the mood for the Ring. I have the Furtwangler mono studio-live audience recordings, which to my way of thinking, is unsurpassed.But frankly I haven’t been in the mood since 1978. I much prefer Wagner’s Christian mystery operas.

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