Simanaitis Says

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YESTERDAY IN PART 1, Michigan Opera Theatre and its new Artistic Director Yuval Sharon offered a Motown Take on Wagner’s Götterdämmerung—at different levels of its multi-story parking garage. Today in Part 2, we continue with details of this marvelous MOT Twilight: Gods.

Drive-Through Drama. The production was enhanced as the car-borne audience moved from scene to scene. In The New Yorker, October 26, 2020,  Alex Ross notes, “As you drove up one ramp, you saw black-clad figures scrawling the names of some deceased ‘Ring’ characters—Siegmund, Sieglinde, Hunding, Mime—in chalk on the walls.”

Parking Garage Realizations. Each scene of Twilight: Gods had separate musical accompaniment: For example, there’s a solo cello for Waltraute’s lament; electric bass, bass clarinet, and accordion for the baddies Hagen and Alberich; and what Ross calls “an unexpectedly funky version of Siegfried’s Funeral Music—adding a taste of Motown to the mix.” The Rhine gets its shimmering invocation from a quintet of two violins, harp, marimba, and vibraphones.

The Immolation Scene. “The ultimate coup,” Ross describes, “was Brünnhilde’s entrance in the passenger seat of a Ford Mustang—a locally manufactured steed that took the place of the horse Grane. Guides held up a sign reading ‘Follow the Mustang’; the spectators drove up onto the rooftop level, where Brünnhilde got out of her vehicle and sang her closing monologue amid an assemblage of burned-out cars, with the Detroit skyline looming in the background.”

Soprano Christine Goerke as Brünnhilde in the Immolation Scene of MOT’s Twilight: Gods.

Detroit’s Brunnhilde was portrayed by Christine Goerke, who also sang the role in the Metropolitan Opera’s 2019 Ring Cycle.

A Fitting Condensation. Ross writes, “The task of summarizing the plot fell to the Detroit-born poet, historian, and activist Marsha Music. She assumed the guise of the earth mother Erda, who appears in earlier stages of the ‘Ring’ but not in Götterdämmerung. Music’s condensation of the story was elegant, sly, and at times politically pointed.” 

Marsha Music, Detroit artist, wrote and read poetic narration for Twilight: Gods.

Before the finale, Marsha Music portraying Erda put the fall of the gods in contemporary terms: ‘To pandemic and plague, the world has succumbed / The end of days—it now has come / Jealousy, envy and skies fire red / And discarding and lying and defiling the bed / And courting then ghosting and boldfaced lies / And bragging and boasting, and making hearts cry.”

Yes, opera can be as timely as today’s headlines. Applause, Michigan Opera Theatre. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2020 

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