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, 15 May 2011

The agony (of being moved by Wagner)

I loathe fairy tales, myths, out-of-mind experiences, the supernatural, voodoo, animalisations, horror movies, most science fiction, miracles, received religions, undefined enthusiasm, and a sense of déja vu.

Yet I’ve dabbled in Wagner. Why? Because the music’s good.

Last night, watching a live HD presentation of Die Walküre by the New York Met I rose up a notch. I was moved.

I need to tell you part of the plot. This is a big turn-off even for people who love things in my black list above. I've kept it brief.

For irresistible political and domestic reasons Wotan, king of the gods, agrees – very, very reluctantly – to arrange that his bastard son dies in a forthcoming battle. His well-beloved daughter Brȕnnhilde is despatched to ensure this. For humanitarian reasons she tries to save the son, Wotan is forced to intervene and his son dies. For disobeying a god’s wishes Brȕnnhilde is punished, horribly.

During the last act Brȕnnhilde pleads against her punishment and has a lot going for her. She has always loved and obeyed her father to the point where she gained “favoured” status. She disobeyed him on this occasion because she knows he loves the bastard son. She is telling the truth and Wotan knows it. He is in agony. But the punishment stands.

The singers – Bryn Terfel and Deborah Voigt – are world-class and the music works relentlessly backwards and forwards to re-create the emotions and regrets both are experiencing. This is believable stuff aimed at proving that power is never infinite, that even gods – never mind humans – are never free. I was moved last night and I am moved again, writing this. I can say no more.