Weekend 6-24-12

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.)

5 thoughts on “Weekend 6-24-12

  1. Is that the same awful production that the Met used for the notorious Tetris and Isolde HD broadcast? The one where absolutely nothing happens for five hours?
    I got into Wagner early. The Rhinegold (in the Porter translation) was the first opera I saw ive at age 17.

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    1. The only thing I liked about that production was its willingness to cater to the nosebleeds, b/c I think the gender symbolism built into the set is only visible from above, and the blocking in relation to it counts for a lot. Haven’t seen it on video (in either iteration), but I can imagine it coming off absolutely static.

      For wading into Tristan, I’d suggest ditching video altogether, and going with audio only. All the action’s in the orchestra anyway.

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      1. Apart from the HD broadcast I’ve never made it all the way through a recording of Tristan, which seems to me the classic case of ten minutes of plot condensed into five hours! I am going to see peter Sellar” production at COC next season though I’m not sure whether we have tickets for Ben Heppner or Burckhard Fritz. COC have cunningly split cast as insurance against Heppner bailing again.

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    2. It’s been a while since I saw the dvd, but I remember it being very static. It was useful to me at the time, because I was mainly trying to absorb the music and the production just served as a series of visual cues to remind me where we were in the story – but that’s hardly an argument in the production’s favor more generally!

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