The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Wagner’s “Ring” cycle comes to your home starting Monday night as PBS and Wisconsin Public Television host the Metropolitan Opera’s legendary and controversial new production every night this week.

September 9, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

In case you missed it the first time and want to see and hear it — or in case you want to do so again, PBS and Wisconsin Public Television will air Richard Wagner’s entire mammoth “Ring” cycle every night this week. (Check local times.)

Superstar soprano Deborah Voigt, who sang the role of Brunnhilde (below), will be the host of the series, done by “Great Performances.”

Every night the production starts airing at 8 p.m.

It starts Monday night with “Wagner’s Dream,” a documentary about the ambitious and controversial production — with the complex and npot always reliable set known as The Machine (below) — as staged by the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and director Robert Lepage. Some of the outstanding singers include Bryn Terfel, Stephanie Blythe, Eric Owens, Deborah Voigt, Jonas Kaufmann and Jay Hunter Morris.

Here is the full schedule:

Monday: “Wagner’s Dream”

Tuesday: “Das Rheingold

Wednesday: “Die Walkure”

Thursday: “Siegfried”

Friday: “Gotterdammerung”

You can check this blog information search site for more stories about it.

I also suggest Googling the various productions by title, especially for critical reviews and previews. Check out especially The New York Times’ various critics, The New Yorker’s Alex Ross and The Washington Post’s Anne Midgette.

It was a historic two-year project at the Met and for the “Met Live in HD”  broadcasts.

And now you can experience it in your home. So, Wagner addicts: Here is your chance for a week-long fill of music and drama.

Here is a link to PBS previews:

Also, be sure to check out the longer short excerpts from the individual operas at the bottom of the web page.

Classical Music: NPR gives all “Operaholics” a place to confess and can teach you “How to Talk Like an Opera Geek.”

May 6, 2012

By Jacob Stockinger

Yesterday, I posted Zachary Woolfe’s extraordinary report in The New York Times on watching and listening to the Metropolitan Opera’s “LIVE in HD” broadcasts all around the country. (Below is Deborah Voigt as Brunnhilde in this season’s production of Wagner ‘Die Walkure.”)

But maybe you want to sound more like what NPR called an “Operaholic” as in their series “Confessions of an Operaholic”?

Then you should check out NPR’s terrific blog “Deceptive Cadence” with the ever-growing category “How to Talk Like an Opera Geek.”

You can find out all sorts of things, from how to talk about postwar operas in Europe to how to discuss classic operas in the repertoire.

Take a look and listen, and see what you think.

Then tell us –- and NPR.

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
1 Comment

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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