Simanaitis Says

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MY SOCIAL DISTANCING THE RING OF THE NIBELUNGEN

LIKE SO MANY other organizations, cultural and otherwise, the Metropolitan Opera has cancelled the remainder of its 2019-2020 season, including all performances and, hence, Live in HD transmissions.

Met Streaming. Fortunately, though, the Met has a remarkable archive of past performances, all available for subscribers to stream on demand. A monthly subscription ordinarily costs $14.99; a year’s, $149.99, each offering unlimited streaming.

The Met’s Video & Audio Catalog ranges alphabetically from Adriana Lecouveur (a who-coulda-done-it based on rumors of an actual 18th-century diva’s demise) to Die Zauberflöte.

A Real Deal. What’s more, on March 27, 2020, the Met’s website announced, “During this extraordinary and difficult time, the Met hopes to brighten the lives of our audience members even while our stage is dark. Every day a different encore presentation from the company’s Live in HD series is being released for free, on-demand streaming, with each performance available for a period of 23 hours, beginning at 7:30 p.m. EDT. Learn more here.”

If I am a model, this deal is bound to encourage lots of people to subscribe once the freebie period is over. Here are tidbits on my personal social distancing from gods, dwarfs, and their often licentious interactions with mere mortals.

My Bedtime Ring. As I write this, I have now enjoyed three-quarters of Der Ring des Nibelungen with my laptop propped up on my nightstand. Having watched the Gergiev Ring live at Opera Pacific and the Met’s Live in HD version last year, this change of venue is okay too.

The opening scene of Rhinegold, as envisioned by Josef Hoffman, who designed sets for Richard Wagner’s original productions at Bayreuth. Don’t confuse Josef Hoffman, 1831–1904, with a more prominent Josef Hoffmann, who was six when Wagner first performed the Ring Cycle in 1876.

My new horizontal approach to the Ring has brought new appreciation. Thus far, with each of Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, and Siegfried, I have enjoyed the first hour or so, then drifted off with only subliminal listening.

Subliminal Attraction. Yet with utterly no effort on my part, I awaken for portions of the Ring that I particularly savor. I tend to nod off in other parts that begin when a character sits down and sings something akin to “Lassen Sie mich Ihnen jetzt sagen, wie wir uns in diese hübsche Situation gebracht haben,” loosely, “Now let me tell you how we got ourselves in this pretty fix.”

Without getting into complete plots, I share here my subliminal favorites: In Rheingold, these are the trips to and from Nibelheim as well as the Rainbow Bridge to Valhalla. Each of these employs The Machine, Robert Lepage’s 90,000-lb. assembly of articulated planks that can be steps, a bridge, a forest, a stream, or other things.

The Nibelheim journey. Image by Krista Schleuter for The New York Times.

In Die Walküre, it’s the Sieg twin’s romance (I love soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek), the Valkyries’ ride, and Brünnhilde’s slumber party with her dad Wotan.

Brunnhild, postcard by Gaston Burrière, 1897.

In Siegfried, it’s Sieg Jr.’s sword making, his famous “Das ist kein Mann!” and the subsequent love scene with Auntie Brü. Damn, I slept through Sieg Jr.’s speaking with the Woodbird after he killed the Dragon aka Fafner the Giant.

I had until 3:30 p.m. Pacific to watch the Dragon and Woodbird before the Met uploaded Götterdämmerung. However, I was otherwise occupied composing this.

God only knows what my subliminal mind will select out of Götterdämmerung. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2020

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