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Our motto: "Critical thinking in the cheap seats." Unbiased, honest classical music and opera opinions, occasional obituaries and classical news reporting, since 2007. All written content © 2019 by Paul J. Pelkonen. For more about Superconductor, visit this link. For advertising rates, click this link. Follow us on Facebook.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Waiting For the World to End

A Superconductor Editorial.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
The final conflagration at the end of the Met's new Ring Cycle.
Photo by Ken Howard © 2012 The Metropolitan Opera.
The Metropolitan Opera has announced the release date for its DVD and Blu-Ray sets of the company's Robert Lepage production of Der Ring des Nibelungen:

September 11, 2012.

The sets, which are re-packagings of the Met's Live in HD performances of Das Rheingold, Die Walküre, Siegfried and Götterdämmerung, are scheduled for general release on the 11th anniversary of attacks on New York and Washington, DC that destroyed the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon.

Opera lovers are all too aware that Wagner's Ring cycle ends with a similar apocalypse: the onstage destruction of the Gibichung palace and the burning of Valhalla, symbolizing the end of the world. Mr. Lepage's production features extensive use of digitally projected flames and water on a vast contraption of spinning mechanical planks that opera house stage-hands have dubbed "the Machine."

Now, I'm all for art that is related to September 11th. Whether it is the powerful photographs taken at the site of the attacks, or Bruce Springsteen's The Rising, a moving tribute to the firefighters killed  on that terrifying morning. However, it is the opinion of this blog that the decision to release these particular operas on this particular day smacks of insensitivity, on the part of both the Metropolitan Opera House and record label Deutsche Grammophon, which will distribute the recordings.

The operas will be available on eight DVDs or five Blu-Rays, a report by the Associated Press said.

It should be noted that record companies generally release their products on Tuesdays, and this year 9/11 happens to fall on that day of the week, making this an unfortunate coincidence. However, given the Met's unique relationship to the City of New York, the opera house might pause to consider its role as cultural ambassadors--not just of the music of Wagner, but of the city.

In September of 2001, New York-based progressive metal band Dream Theater was forced to hastily withdraw its live record Metropolis: Scenes from New York because of album art that depicted a big apple up in flames and the silhouettes of the Manhattan skyline (including the World Trade Center) against the conflagration. The album was issued soon after with new, less disturbing art.

The Metropolitan Opera and Deutsche Grammophon should consider acting with the same sensitivity. September 11th is a day of tragedy and horror that New Yorkers (this writer included) have taken many years to recover from. Releasing the Ring a month later--when people would actually want to invest in such a product, would be an excellent solution.

Watch a trailer for Götterdämmerung here.

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