Today is a bit of a “recovery day” for me. As readers know, Dan and I attended San Francisco Opera‘s Ring Cycle last week. That’s over sixteen hours of music, I believe. Rich music. Thick with meaning and wonder. So now I am exhausted, still emotional, and not ready to get back to “real life” quite yet.
Things I would do differently next time (and YES, there will be a next time!): 1) NO students during the run. Period. The Ring really does take you into a different world, and I’d prefer staying in it the entire run. 2) Stay in the city of the production if at all possible. Driving to and fro really wasn’t bad, since we stayed up in San Francisco for a couple of nights, but why not make it the event that it really is?! 3) POSSIBLY (not sure) attend more events the opera company holds prior to the “week of”. I’m not sure about this last one … I never want to lose the magic and wonder. Would attending too many lectures do that? I don’t know!
So now to my thoughts.
Really. Nothing can explain how I felt at the end. It was too incredible. Too moving. And it covers, as far as I’m concerned, the “all of it” … life, death, nature, youth, old age, and so much more. Of course I see it through my faith-based vision, but I think those things would hit anyone, no matter where they stand regarding faith.
I had been warned. Several people told me to “bring hankies” for the end. Because of that I reacted in several ways. First, I packed my purse appropriately. But I also thought, “Now that I’ve been warned it won’t hit me quite as strongly.” And I have to admit I was also a bit distracted toward the end, thinking, “Well, will I cry?!” So Brünnhilde sings her final words. No tears, although it was intense. But that wasn’t it! It was AFTER that. And, oh my, did it hit. I won’t tell you what happens, in case you ever get to see and hear it (I’m SO hoping for a video of the cycle, and I do know they filmed it all). But yes, bring “hankies” (or, in my case, Kleenex).
The cast was incredible, and Nina Stemme, as Brünnhilde, was just amazing. Her transformation from young, energetic Walküre to the end, when she sacrifices herself, was outstanding. (As one “tweep” — @domb_opera — wrote, “I think those of us lucky enough to see #ringSF have probably seen the greatest Brunhilde of her generation. Brava Nina Stemme. #SENSATIONAL”) The bird was so darn birdlike it was fantastic. The Rhinemaidens, the Norns, the rotten scoundrels that run through the cycle … all excellent. I can’t name everyone … so I’ll just say “Tutti Bravi” and leave it at that. (For which some will now call me a big music snob due to the “tutti” … but that’s their problem!)
And the orchestra! Wow. I had read a few negative things (only in blog subject headers, as I refused to read any reviews until I had seen it myself), and puzzled over that. If a player makes a little error, I understand. I don’t care about that. I care about musicality. And they were mightily musical! Oh, and Janet Archibald’s English horn solo that Siegfried plays was magnificently HORRENDOUS! Really. How often does one get to compliment a friend with “That was AWFUL!” ;-) If you’ve never seen or heard the opera, listen to the following video at 3:20 … yep … supposed to be bad! (NO, this isn’t anything close to what San Francisco Opera‘s production looks like.)
(Update so you don’t get the wrong idea!
Please do know that the rest of Janet’s playing was lovely. Very much so. But what a kick to get to play poorly! I was also very moved by the beautifully warm and musical playing of principal oboist MingJia Liu, and the clarinet section was fantastic!)
Speaking of the orchestra, they have a Facebook presence and feature some good articles about various musicians, including one about Janet Archibald!
I was thrilled to see ALL cast and crew — including orchestra! — come out for a bow after Götterdämmerung. A well deserved bow.
Finally, meeting up with twitterfolk was GREAT fun! I hope we do that again. All of them were real experts about the Ring. I’m guessing they are that way about opera in general. Funny how I sit in an opera pit and play the music (although I’ll never get the joy and challenge of The Ring, I’m sure) yet know less than they do in oh so many ways!
And now it’s over. I feel like I’ve lived a lifetime. And I’m pretty darn weary. So today, as I said, is a recovery day. I know it’s the fourth, but I haven’t the energy to do much about that. I am just going to bask in the memory that is The Ring.
(Don’t you love how I wrote “No. Words.” above and then proceeded to ramble in my typical pattyramble™ manner? Hah!)
BRAVI TUTTI!! (The quality isn’t great, but this is what my iPhone recorded for final bows. It’s possible even this isn’t “legal” and I’ll be asked to remove it. Obedient girl that I am, I would, of course, do that if it’s requested.):
… and because I am amazed with ALL that goes into the Ring, and I clearly can’t get enough of it (!), here’s a “Behind the Scenes”: