Corrupting The Youth, or, Two For The Price Of One

I spent the weekend listening to Wagner with a stuffed nose, that is, I don’t mean the singers had stuffed noses, just me, or well just me and my cat, but I can see I have already confused things hopelessly.

It started here and moved on to this and this weekend we fetched up at Siegfried, five frapping hours (really six, with intermissions, during which I jogged around the Octoplex) trying to keep myself from lumbar spasm while a star was born. Holy anvils, Batman.

Okay, maybe you want a bit more of the gutsy resonance I remember from Windgassen in his prime, say, or Melchior throwing it right in your face from sinuses, chest and probably balls, but then this guy got yanked into the role at the last minute, and for me someone standing up there on the stage gets points for being Siegfried, channeling a seventeen year old galoot without a clue.

Could he be more of a natural?

Here I go to the opera in the bittersweet knowledge that next installment, Gotterdammerung, will be the last and in it there will be no more of Bryn’s Wotan, now the old and serene Wanderer ready to hang up all his godly ambitions. (The Cute Engineer has solemnly informed me that everyone is entitled to a pre-emptive pardon from their Significant Other regarding a short list of five celebrities that they would leap into bed with if they only had the chance, and accepts that Bryn is one of mine; the only other candidate I can think of is Kenneth Branagh, but even that I would have to sit down and think over.) Was I ready for a lucky-break story involving a hardworking, brave and rather humble-seeming guy with a cornpone Texas accent and musical acting skills on track to match Bryn’s own?

Be still, my beating heart. And please God, open, my stifled nose. (Somewhere in Act II I finally got service out of one nostril. I don’t remember it bothering me after that, but the next day, I couldn’t breathe — autumn allergies on crack, which are even bothering Mr. Ferguson the cat — and could barely hobble.)

The Engineer, insisting that he is caught up in this production and not merely putting up with it for my sake, rejected my offer to narrate a preview of the plotline of Gotterdammerung.  “I just want to see it unfold,” he said.

I love that kind of ingenuousness, too.

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8 thoughts on “Corrupting The Youth, or, Two For The Price Of One

  1. That is one of the most entertaining things I’ve see in a long time. I like his Siegfried and I like him as a person. I love the way he calls the orchestra “the band.” Not sure why he is wearing those wimpy gloves but it also looks like an interesting staging.

    I’ve never heard an entire Siegfried with Melchior (does one exist?) but I imagine it would be better to hear than to see–he wouldn’t be a convincing 17 year old.

    • So far as I know there is no entire recording of Siegfried before the production conducted by Georg Solti and featuring Windgassen. Who looked okay in the part at the time, but not quite as believable as this guy.

      http://www.amazon.com/Wagner-Nibelungen-Cycle-Georg-Solti/dp/B0000042H4

      Morris looks to me like no one so much as my neighbor’s grandson Max, who interestingly happened to be at the curb and inquiring about my day when I got back from the theater yesterday. I explained to him. I am not sure he processed it all but he was genial.

      This whole staging is uneven. This may have been the best exploitation yet of the Lepage Machine, which in Walkure was deployed as so many seesaws to represent the Valkyries’ horses, Christ on a crutch. This time, the device did a damn good job as the Forest Primeval and the firey mountaintop. The dragon, by the way, was actually scary.

  2. I agree, even from the tiny clip there is something about Jay Morris that makes it work. What did you think of Siegfried Jerusalem in the earlier Met production?

    I know what you mean about wondering if the people you talk to about Wagner process it.

    • I’ve only ever seen short clips of Siegfried Jerusalem in the part but — well, is it petty of me to say that his forging style is what I want Morris to study? Just a little more swing from the center of gravity — in both the physical and the musical sense — and he’ll be good to go.

  3. Yes–Morris looked like he was concentrating too hard. I actually saw Jerusalem live (he was also Loge in Das Rheingold) and his facial expressions and body language make him a powerful presence.

    • Loge. Oooo yum. There’s a role that often gets kind of, you should pardon me, faggified by singers and/or directors who forget that he is, well, Lucifer. I really did not like the Great Balls Of Fire interpretation of this Met production but bore with it.

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