Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chuck Lundeen raves about DIE WALKURE

Chuck Lundeen is kind enough to preview our opera offerings and offer his opinions. Here we go!

Scheduled for Tuesday February 2 at 7 PM and Sunday February 7 at noon. $18 for Little Theatre members, senior and students. $20 for all others. With a 235 minute running time (there will be two short 'rest breaks,' too) that's less than 7 cents a minute! You'll never see a RING opera for a better rate!

If you're not already a member of THE LITTLE THEATRE FILM SOCIETY please give serious consideration to joining. The Little is non-profit membership organization, not at all like the multi-plexes. We depend on members to help meet the expenses of running a 5-screen cinema in an old building! In addition, because of the length of this opera, The Little will not be able to fit in a second screening on Tuesday evening or a second Sunday matinee. They are really sacrificing for us! End of commercial.

If you want a brief recommendation so you don't have to read much further it's: "Hojotoho!" You'd better go! For those of you who have put off Wagner for any reason, or if you are at all interested in a first exploration of the work of this musical genius (Even if he wasn't a very nice person!) this is the perfect opportunity. Of the four parts of The Ring Cycle, DIE WALKURE can stand alone. You don't need any background to enjoy it, but if you want background, plenty is provided for you if you listen and read the subtitles carefully.

This production comes once again from Valencia, Spain and from the outside shots of the opera house the building itself must have been designed by Calatrava. Someone can research that: Palau de les Arts "Reina Sofia" in Valencia.
The conductor is ZUBIN MEHTA who got his orchestra to produce astonishing sounds--from uber-sensitive to absolutely majestic. Sigmund is Peter Seiffert and Juha Uusitalo sings Wotan. Petra Maria Schnitzer is a beautiful Sieglinde and Jennifer Wilson is a fully competent Brunnhilde. Many of these were new names for me, and I was delighted to hear wonderful Wagner voices. I hope some of them will eventually get to our shores--or perhaps I've missed some of them.

This is a continuation of last year's DAS RHINEGOLD which many of you loved even though it was quite an unusual production. After watching this WALKURE I have a feeling we're seeing the future of Ring Cycles, created with projections rather than realistic scenery. I know that's the plan for the Met's new production, now in process. In this production the costumes are a bit sci-fi for my taste. Unfortunately, the designer of the breastplates for the Valkuries must have had a mad-on for these women warriors, for he could not have made them any less attractive. Gartefully they all sang gloriously!

In addition to the projections, the immortal characters are standing on metal vehicles that allow them to be pushed all around the stage and to be raised and lowered depending on the scene. They wear regular costumes and can step off the vehicle when necessary. The vehicules are remarkable to watch because they give the characters a wonderful 'god-like' capability. They are literally pushed, raised, and lowered by nearly invisible 'pushers' who were given their own curtain call at the end of the opera for their amazing work. I can't even begin to imagine how much time was spent choreographing all these mechanical movements. It was like watching dance--especially when the eight Valkuries were doing their thing.

In ACT I the focal point is, without a doubt, the tree. Created by a projection it literally fills the stage, changes colors, weeps leaves, and once Sieglinde screams Sigmund's name, the trunk and branches fill with the word SIGMUND and letters from his name drop to the ground like tears. You will definitely be impressed!

At the beginning of the act Sieglinde moves on all fours and her hands are held very much like paws, indicating her wolf heritage. She also wears a noose around her neck which Hunding pulls on when he speaks to her and yells his orders. Needless to say, the noose is the first thing to go once she and Sigmund begin their duet. In her scene in ACT II when she declares herself unworthy, she reverts back to some of these wolf-like movements.

As you can see, I could go on forever about the wonders of this opera and this particular production. During the final Wotan/Brunnhilde scene I had tears running down my face. It is the only time I have seen REAL fire used to encircle Brunnhilde in her long sleep.

It's a time investment, but you won't regret a minute of it! Please feel free to let me know your thoughts if you go.


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