Review: The Metropolitan Ring Cycle, April - May 2019


Met Ring Cycle2019


By Minnie Biggs

Postscript to Review (issue 153) - Die Walküre

Clearly two performances at the Met were not enough. How lucky are we in AU to have the Met HD cinema version arrive a month later?

Of course the theatre/opera house/MET are better, much better, but there are real advantages to watching it close up on the small(er) screen. And, for me, at the hokey Mt Vic Flicks there were times when the orchestra and the singing filled that space to the overflowing of my heart. There were also times when I heard the orchestra telling the story, way ahead of the words, and far clearer than words. Just as we know it does, and just as we do not always recognise it happening.

Some of the singers and details one really wants to see bigger than life, others not so much. Hunding sings out of the side of his mouth, to look cruel and mean, quite scary, that mouth, close up!

The only cast member different from my beloved gang at the Met was Greer Grimsley as Wotan. Was not crazy about him in the past and less so this time. He has one of those voices that wobbles, and while it is pleasant to see a slim Wagnerian singer, his handsome face is somehow grim. Grim Grimsley. When he sings of his love for his daughter, not a trace of joy or love is on that face. A good moment to be far away in the upper circles- of the theatre or heaven singing.

The high moment, and one not visible to any but those in frontmost seats was that of Sigmund dying. He lays on the ground looking up at Wotan/Walse, his father, and gently nods his head, and dies. Achingly beautiful.

Mixed emotions about the interval features, a lot of time spent hearing about how wonderful Debby Voight was as both Sieglinde and Brunhilde - oh yes, she knows all about how hard it is.

But an interview with The Infamous Le Page about The Machine was helpful. It seems he was inspired by the Edda myths, and Iceland and...its tectonic plates. So the Machine is meant to simulate movement of those plates. Having been told that, one can see how the lighting and movement of the planks look like plates, sometimes, and that helps to explain that iceberg I wondered about. But Wagner and the Edda and tectonic plates? Tectonic plates are about Iceland. The Edda come from Iceland, but are they connected?

Then I wondered- leap of imagination- might he be referring to the literal tectonic shifts in the music and drama and philosophy of Wagner? But the movement of the planks did not connect with the music as such. Just an imaginative leap. I wonder if an imaginative complicated set should tell its story by itself or does it need explaining, like learning about LePages’s images of Iceland volcanos and shifting ice? For 17, or is it 23 million dollars? There were great shots of the cast of 24 backstage lifters, one for each plank. Really. Who knew?