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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

An Unexpected Wagner Treat

The Met Live in HD Die Walküre on YouTube.
by Paul Pelkonen.

There's that pesky spotlight:
Jonas Kaufmann as Siegmund.
Photo by Ken Howard
© 2011 The Metropolitan Opera.
Christmas continues to roll along. Today is the tenth day. In lieu of ten lords-a-leaping, here's nine Valkyries from the Met.

James Levine is not appearing at the Met this season or the next. But Wagner lovers can take this opportunity (while it's still up) to enjoy this May 14, 2011 performance of Die Walküre, the same footage shown in the opera company's Live in HD broadcast. This was the last performance he conducted at the Met before the start of his current hiatus.

This performance stars Jonas Kaufmann (Siegmund), Eva-Maria Westbroek (Sieglinde), Hans-Peter Köning (Hunding), Deborah Voigt (Brunnhilde), Stephanie Blythe (Fricka), Bryn Terfel (Wotan.)

The subtitles are in French, but the price is right.

Some comments as I watch:

This is the first time I've seen any of the broadcast footage of the Ring. (I saw Rheingold twice last year, and Walküre three times in the theater. Up close, the problem of the actors blocking the digital projectors (and having trees and such projected on their bodies) bothers me a lot more than it did in the house.


All footage © 2011 The Metropolitan Opera. 

This is the first time I've seen any of the broadcast footage of the Ring. (I saw Rheingold twice last year, and Walküre three times in the theater. Up close, the problem of the actors blocking the digital projectors (and having trees and such projected on their bodies) bothers me a lot more than it did in the house.

In the hut scene, the blocking (actors at hip height under the walkway, etc.) works better on television or in the movie theater than it did in the house.

Whenever a singer in a spotlight goes near the projection of the ash tree the bark disappears. That doesn't happen with real scenery.

There's a weird background noise in Act I. Is that the noise of the projectors being picked up by the recording equipment? The La bohème snow-fall? And are those creaks and clacks coming from the musicians in the pit or from the Machine itself?

Singers and audio seem slightly out of sync. Weird as it's a film of a live broadcast--probably some sort of carrier delay between mikes and cameras and the truck.

Hans Peter König's Hunding is like a creepy Santa Claus. Not even Macy's--he's dressed by Hot Topic. With tree bark projected on his face.

I understand that the camera pulls back to see Robert Lepage's shadow-plays during the narration but it is worse than it was in the house, taking focus totally off the singers.

Why did everyone get up from the table while Hunding told the story? Oh right. The director seems to care more about the animation than the singers. Maybe we should start calling this the PIXAR Ring.

Hunding's hut looked like IKEA in the theater. On the HD it still looks like IKEA. The Met has a Raymour and Flanigan and a Gracious Home up the street...maybe a nice lamp? A print of the old production? A stuffed Fafner? Something to punctuate the dreariness?

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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.