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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Breaking Down Valhalla

The Madness of the Met's New Ring Schedule.

Gary Lehman as Siegfried: waking the cast for an 11am curtain?
Photo by Brigitte Lacombe © 2011 The Metropolitan Opera
In the last few decades, attending Wagner's Ring Cycle at the Metropolitan Opera House was a simple, if expensive affair.

The options were:

A) Four matinee performances on Saturday afternoons (timed to coincide with the live broadcasts.)
B) All four operas the way Wagner intended: in the course of a week.
Monday: Rheingold at 8pm. Tuesday: Walküre at 7. Thursday: Siegfried at 6:30.
Saturday Götterdämmerung starting at 6pm.
The operas ended at midnight. It was all very civilized, and felt like Bayreuth...on the Hudson.

The production was good, too.

Well, this year's schedule changes all that. Three cycles are offered, and the scheduling options are bizarre.

Cycle I starts on April 7th with a Saturday night Das Rheingold that goes curtain-up at 9pm. (So much for earlier start times!)
Die Walküre has its season premiere on the following Friday (the 13th) at 6:30pm Good scheduling for a production that had two onstage accidents (with singers falling off the "Machine" set) last spring.
Siegfried (with Gary Lehman) is a matinee on April 21st, starting at 11am. Tickets should be easy to get for non-subscribers, if they decide to get up that early.
Finally, Götterdämmerung (with Stephen Gould as Siegfried and Katerina Dalayman as Brunnhilde) starts on Tuesday night at 6pm, which means that opera-goers with jobs (the only ones who can afford the doubled ticket prices) will be leaving work early and racing to the opera house. Considering that the first act is two and a half hours long, expect List Hall and the downstairs viewing lounges to be jammed.

The other cycles are a little better. Cycle II opens with an 8:30 Rheingold on April 26. Die Walküre is April 28, again a "rehearsal schedule matinee" at 11am. Siegfried is Monday night at 6pm, and Götterdämmerung is Thursday, May 3 at 6. Ms. Dalayman sings Brünnhilde.

Cycle III is similar. Das Rheingold bows on May 5, a Saturday night performance at 8:30pm. Die Walküre is Monday, May 7 at 6:30pm. Siegfried is Wednesday at 6pm. The final Götterdämmerung is at 11am on Saturday, May 12. The last cycle pairs Ms. Voigt with Mr. Gould.

To order tickets to this year's performances of Der Ring des Nibelungen, visit the official subscription page at the official site of the Metropolitan Opera.
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.