The Perfect Wagnerite sits in his perfect home,
listening to the perfect `Ring,' perhaps an early LP
(or late cylinder) of the 1935 Flagstad-Melchior performance.
The Minimalist Wagnerite sits in the War Memorial
tonight at the Cast-B/Cycle 3 `Goetterdaemmerung,' cringing
every time George Gray is on stage, wishing for the bad old
days of Wolfgang Schmidt's Siegfried. Schmidt has an
irritating voice; Gray has none. But the Minimalist
Wagnerite is there anyway. Why he do dat?
It's the music, stupid, live, alive.
It's the great magic of this work that is
irrepressible, that keeps hitting one in the chest --
tonight, the orchestra playing long stretches beautifully;
Ian Robertson's chorus rocking the place (perhaps for
the first time in this production); Alan Held singing
Gunther so much better than the Wotan he is not quite
ready for; Elena Zaremba's First Norn that's the essence
of chest voice and projection; Eric Halfvarson's towering
Hagen; Elizabeth Bishop's Waltraute... and a tiny figure
you never heard before in the music halfway through the
two-hour-long first act.
The minimalist Wagner fanatic even prefers Frances
Ginzer's respectable but uninteresting Bruennhilde -- just
one time -- to any *recording* of whatever perfection.
All music lives, really, in the live performance,
something especially true about the `Ring.'
So for the poor, exhausted, dear orchestra and
the Minimalist Wagnerite, tomorrow is the Cycle-4
`Siegfried'... not because of Schmidt (sigh), but
in hope of something new and spectacular from Eaglen
or a really stunning phrase from the third horn.
`Siegfried had a wicked temper. If his porridge
wasn't just right, he'd throw it all round
the hall.' -- `Expecting Someone Taller'
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