Wednesday, April 6, 2011

ring am ring

"Vollendet das ewige Werk" sings Wotan as he views Valhalla - the endless work is finished. A perfect moment of very human hubris for the god, for two reasons: he didn't do any of the work, and of course the work is only beginning. Irony stirs in this 19th-century sentence, also a joke on the beginning of the tetralogy (the "ewige Werk" has, at that point, about 17 hours to go).

Last night I gasped when the Rheingold was revealed, a stack of tall, thick gold bars sort of melted together. The daughters of the great river swam in panic as the dwarf renounced love and everyone started talking about real estate, payback, eternal youth. The brass thundered out at the end, glorious, terrible, empty. As always, this piece brings global and personal associations all together, the slow poisoning of the ocean, the loss of my own family's home. Hubris, the small and dangerous death of "there, I'm finished".

We lost our maestro and one of our giants at the last minute, but here in miraculous Europe great replacements can get on a train and step into the show like nothing happened. It wasn't a performance for the ages on ten days of rehearsal (and none, really, for the Phillies), but it was thrilling all the same. And there were my hardworking colleagues, Rheinmaidens who will be Valkyries tonight, Flower Maidens next week, Siebel in Faust or Gianetta in Elisir as well. Fasolt, dead at his brother's hand, has time to swing over to Nabucco, and of course there's the Volkoper Fledermaus and Japan benefit concert this weekend for some others.

There's hubris, and then there is the glory of human work.