Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Technologically flows the Rhine

Yesterday in Malvern we watched Rheingold. There were some glitches, the prompt was audible, but there wasn’t a single duff voice and Alberich was definitive. Yet when the performers took their bows half the Malvern audience clapped and half didn’t. Why? Because although the performance was live it originated at the Met in New York. I for one felt foolish clapping a cinema screen.

Technology was rampant. The high definition TV link meant I was able to admire Wotan’s (ie, Bryn Terfel’s) orthodontics and, had I wanted, his uvula. Despite heavy make-up Freia had an indifferent complexion. The sound was gigantic.

But the most impressive technology was on the stage. There a 45-ton device consisting of a hundred connected and manipulatable planks, affectionately referred to as The Machine, allowed scenes to be changed remotely. The plank edges could be made to ripple, to create staircases and to form precipitate underwater cliffs down which the Rhinemaidens (not without trepidation) disported themselves on wires, flicking their feet flippers and blowing heat-generated bubbles.

Ingenious and monstrous The Machine allowed performers to be positioned for high drama but wasn’t without drawbacks. Loge emerged, wire-supported, walking backwards up a 75 deg incline. He never looked happy. The Rhinemaidens, later occupying geometry impossible to interpret visually, had to take great care that their wires – made more obvious by HD TV - weren’t tangled. On the other hand Fasolt, killed by brother Fafner on a horizontal part of the stage, slid eerily into oblivion as the stage was slowly inclined.

We’re down for Lucia di Lammermoor in March and Walk├╝re in May but will add Nixon in China and Capriccio. All by the Met and all with stratospheric casts.