The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Metropolitan Opera’s two-season production of Wagner’s “Ring” cycle wraps up with “Gotterdammerung” this Saturday on “The Met Live in HD.” Here are some reviews to whet your appetite.

February 10, 2012
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By Jacob Stockinger

Tomorrow – Saturday, Feb. 11 – will bring the historic last live broadcast of the completion of Richard Wagner’s epic “Ring” cycle in the latest production by the Metropolitan Opera.

Unfortunately, this performance will be conducted by Fabio Luisi rather than the legendary James Levine, who started the mammoth Wagner project. But so far, Luisi (below) has shown himself to be very capable.

At 11 a.m. at the Point and Eastgate cinemas in Madison, the Metropolitan Opera’s “The Met Live in HD” series will present “Gotterdammerung” (The Twilight of the Gods), the last in Richard Wagner’s ambitious “Ring” cycle.

Tickets are $24, $22 for seniors. The production, which stars Deborah Voigt (below with Morris), Bryn Terfel and Jay Hunter Morris as well as “The Machine” set used by Cirque du Soleil Robert Lepage, lasts six hours.

Even many of those who can’t attend the broadcast will be interested in the production. So I am offering some background, including reviews.

Here is a link to a video preview and other links to downloadable program notes and other information.

One of the most interesting aspects of the new production is the gap that exists between praise for the singers and performers versus criticism of Carl Fillion’s intricate, weighty (45 tons) and hi-tech set dubbed “The Machine” (below) that even required remodeling of the Met’s enormous stage.

I actually find the set quite intriguing and atmospheric. But you can make up your own mind.

And if you miss this live broadcast, I expect that within a year, the complete Ring will be available as DVDs for home viewing of big TV screens.

That’s not the same, to be sue, as the original, but it is not a bad compromise and certainly better than nothing.

Here is the New York Times’ review by its senior critic Anthony Tommasini (below), who will be in Madison March 22-24 to give free lectures as part of the UW’s Pro Arte Quartet centennial:

And here is a review from – what else? — The Classical Review website, where you can check out other music and opera reviews:

Here is a review from New York City’s famed classical radio station WQXR:

And here is a musical excerpt to attract you:

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