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From Jacksonville Beach, FL

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The case for trying something new

                                           Lincoln Center looking down from the second 

   If someone had told me a few months ago that I would sit for six hours to watch a movie of an opera and then be sorry when it was over, I would have told them they were nutz.  I did just that  yesterday watching the Metropolitan Opera's High Definition Live film performance of "Die Gotterdammerung," the last opera of a group of four telling the story of  "The Ring" from German mythology.  What can I say about it? It was inspiring, beautiful, sad and a true metaphor for love, betrayal and forgiveness.  
     In September I signed up for Opera Lectures in the Olli program at the University of North Florida here in Jacksonville.  Why opera lectures?  I knew nothing about the subject and I was curious.  I had seen "La Boheme" at the Metropolitan Opera in 2010, mostly so that I could watch a performance at Lincoln Center.  It was thrilling to be there, and the opera was thrilling as well, not as exciting as "Die Gotterdammerun," but dramatic, well-performed with fabulous orchestral music. 
     Overall, a film performance is not as good as being there, but it is exciting for me to realize that the HD performance is happening on stage at that very second.  It is absolutely the next best thing to being in the theater.  If your seats in the theater are lousy, it might be better.
     In a performance that lasts 6 hours, if it is good, it becomes a new world during those hours. The characters, the story, the action are part of you.  Most of the time, I was not aware of myself.  There were moments, however, when I was tired of sitting or  hungry, but blessedly, there were two long intermissions to take care of those needs.  
     The Met probably will not do all four of the operas in "The Ring" series again in my lifetime.  I'm glad I could see them on the screen.  Hopefully, the screen versions will be around to view again.  I highly recommend that anyone do that.  
      Opera has opened a new world to me.  I love the drama, the costumes, the music, the acting, the singing.  I'm half in love with Jay Hunter Morris who played Siegfried in The Ring operas.
For me, he is perfect in the role.  Siegfried is naive, innocent and happy in life.  Sadly, in "Die Gotterdammerung" he is betrayed when those who want his ring of power give him a potion that causes  forgetfulness of his previous life and of his new wife Brunnhilde.  Brunnhilde feels her own betrayal when she see him with another wife, Gutrune.  Siegfried's enemies have arranged the marriage in order to get at Siegfried's ring and hoard of gold. Brunnhilde does not know Siegfried has been given the forgetfulness potion.  The play action accelerates with this plot twist.  
        The orchestra for this production must have wonderful stamina.  They played for 6 hours and some of the characters, particularly Siegfried, were on stage for most of the opera.  I'd say you must be in great physical condition and have unusual focus.  
     If opera is not for you, try something else new.  It may open new doors for your psyche and your entertainment.  Click here to see a short video collage of the Met operas of "The Ring." 

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