Saturday afternoon I settled down into a comfy seat at a fancy new megaplex in Dedham for Wagner’s Die Walküre. Then I got out of my comfy seat and walked around a while since “The Machine” – the Met’s big stage mechanism for their new Ring Cycle – had to be repaired backstage. At least it didn’t break during the show! 45 minutes later I settled in again for the 5 1/2 hour broadcast.
I really enjoyed the production – Bryn Terfel sounded wonderful as Wotan. His voice was right on for the role and his acting was – as usual – wonderful. What a fantastic artist – he’s one of my all-time favorite singers. If there had been nothing else to recommend, I would have enjoyed the afternoon, but there was plenty more to enjoy. The rest of the cast was excellent. The set and the costumes were great. “The Machine” is – usually – quite effectively used. It is used in an intrusive sort of way now and then – the little shadow movies were a distraction, I think. But, it is interesting to see all the ways Lepage has thought of to use it. I’ve done a lot of thinking about using projected images in theater, so I think it is interesting to see how they use what is – partially – a giant flexible projection screen.
The live interviews during the intermissions of the broadcasts are usually pretty good, if a bit lame at times. The questions tend to be very bland and the answers predictable – although it is fun to see the singers being themselves – more or less – for a few minutes. It is also fun to occaisonally hear the singers say (and do) completely silly things (Anna Netrebko, I’m thinking of you during Les contes d’Hoffmann). Two funny things happened during this broadcast though: Deborah Voigt’s hair caught Plácido Domingo’s glasses when they greeted each other with a peck on the cheek and so we were treated to the sight of Brünnhilde retrieving his glasses from the floor. You don’t see that happen on TV! Then, Joyce DiDonato asked Stephanie Blythe to describe her character “Flicka … Fricka!”. Stephanie chided her with a “that’s a mezzo slip!” Joyce looked slightly shell-shocked afterwards. Singers have a tendency towards being … well let’s just say “funny”.
I’m looking forward to the third and fourth installment of the Ring Cycle next year – the first two were very enjoyable!