Saturday, May 28, 2011

Die Walküre

The Metropolitan Opera has these “live events” where they simulcast a production nearly monthly, and in mid-May, I attended my first live event. It was an . . . opera. I am not a big opera fan - I have only seen one opera live, and that was something of a field trip from elementary school. If I tell you the name of the opera, several of you (who am I kidding; this is an abandoned blog – no one will read it anyway) will discount the opera. Peter and the Wolf. Anyway, the opera this weekend was Die Walküre (The Valkyrie) by Richard Wagner. I was going to pretentiously write the name in German throughout the blog post, but let’s face it, cutting and pasting the umlaut is a pain-in-the-ass, and I like simple.

I knew the opera was in German (the title sort of gives it away), and most people have actually heard at least 8 minutes of the opera (Ride of the Valkyries). Elmer Fudd chasing Bugs Bunny introduced me to this piece of music, Fudd repeating the words “Kill the Wabbit” to this familiar tune. What I did not know could fill a book, but the two most important pieces of information were: (1) the production is actually the second of four epic operas which are part of the Ring Cycle, and (2) the Met’s production today was scheduled to last 5-1/2 hours (it took nearly 6 because of a technical problem with the stage).

I tripped upon this information as I was looking for a synopsis of the opera. I know a bit of German, but unless Brünnhilde is going to be singing about getting directions to the train station, or Siegfried about asking for the check after ordering in a restaurant, my German was going to be a bit limited. I mean, German is tough enough for me to get when it is spoken by people enunciating correctly. Have a rotund soprano belt out the words accompanied by a loud brass section, and I am a bit out of my league.

I really wanted to see this for a couple of reasons: (1) purely for the experience; (2) I doubt anyone I want to date would actually want to accompany me (most men are more interested with 300-pound linebackers, not opera singers with the same stature); (3) I could not imagine me having 5-1/2 hours of free time consecutively in the near future; and (4) lasting through the whole performance would be a challenge - sort of like waxing my legs, when I did not know the rules.

I won’t go through my entire experience, but I was shocked at the number of people who were at the theater. Ninety percent of the patrons were at least 20 years older than me, most people were either in a large group or were coupled up with someone, and nearly everyone in attendance probably knew more than I do about opera. I was surprised but a bit relieved to see subtitles during the live simulcast, as I could actually follow the story.

I am not entirely sure why I wrote this blog entry; I have not written in years, and this subject is not really something that I would normally have tackled. And I don’t think it is fair to say that I will be writing blog entries in the future. I saw that a friend started a new blog entry, and I felt encouraged to write myself. I am waiting for this feeling to pass.


Sheen V said...

Great to hear from you, and I do hope you continue to write. Opera is much better in person than watching a recording.

Knot said...

I went to an opera in Italy once when I was 18. Talk about the wrong person at the wrong place. It was really nice. I had no idea what was going on or what they were talking about and it didn't start until 10 PM. I had a hard time staying awake. But I kind of like opera, despite what people say, it can grow on you.

Xmichra said...

Peter in the Wolf is one of my most favourite and feared scores. I swear, when the wolf comes out, I get chills to this day. Its nuts what a childhood memory can do to an adults constitution.

Opera is a tough one to garner, let along in German, if you aren't in the know. I am one of those not in the know, and my German would serve about as useful as yours.

I would have felt the same about flight of the Valkyrie (Elmer infused) but the rest of the opera would have me thinking of a friend who passed away. He used to blare this in his room. Odd duck that one. lol...

Xmichra said...

and. Peter AND the wolf. what a scary opera that would have been.

Leesa said...

sheen: I really like live music; live opera would be good if I got a good seat.

knot: In Italy, I would be more interested in the buildings, the art and the food. I would have to be dragged out of the Uffizi.

Xmichra: Yeah, your typo made the opera more scary, but not by much. The two lovers in this one are .... ew, brother and sister. I did not know that at first, and I tried forgetting it during the performance.