I just finished watching that DVD of Der Fliegender Holländer, of which more later. I am always mildly surprised whenever I find myself enjoying Wagner, because he and I got off to a kind of rocky start. My first encounter with his music was the march of the Meistersingers from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. We played it in high school orchestra for graduation every year – I rather liked it. So one day at the age of twenty I sat down with a brand new recording of the opera, purchased from one of those record stores that used to exist not on the internet, and expected to enjoy it.
I gave up after about two hours thinking that this was quite possibly the most annoying thing I had ever experienced in my entire life.
This was probably the wrong way to get into Wagner, if getting into Wagner was the goal. Certainly a friend of mine, Danny, in graduate school, thought so – he had taken a class on Wagner as an undergraduate and had grown to really appreciate his operas, and he told me, several times, to just listen to Tristan and Isolde a few times and I’d get it. So, I did. I actually have a DVD of that opera, bought on Danny’s advice (it’s this one) that I watched once years ago, and keep meaning to watch again. I liked it. I’m not sure I ‘get it’ because I’m not sure what the criteria are for ‘getting it’ in the way that Danny meant, but it’s not like it doesn’t sound good.
(But I still like Handel and Mozart better.)