Saturday, April 02, 2005


Tonight we see the last of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle. 3 down, Rheingold, Die Walkurie, Siegfried and tonite Gotterdammerung.

It’s been much better, much more apprehendable and much more beautiful than the first time we saw it. I won’t write a music review. Trust me on this.

I buy CD’s. They are more expensive. I don’t download. Jail seems like a bad plan. The music execs who are fighting downloading raised the price of CD’s because they are concerned about illegal downloading. Isn’t that counterintuitive?

I bought the latest Joe Cocker. Don’t bother. I love Joe Cocker’s Music, except. Remember him at his glory, not at my age. Frank Sinatra pulled a late life reprise. Some shouldn’t. JOE.

When I buy a CD I love, I play it to death. I play it until I wear it out. Included are: Several Joni Mitchell (too many to name), Tom Waites “Heart of Saturday Night”, K D Lang’s “Hymns of the 49th parallel”, Bernstein “Copeland’s Appalachian Spring”, Patsy Cline Compilation by 14 female artists (Wonderful), Kate Bush The Whole Story, Seal (Crazy), David Ruis (any but I like Sweet Mercies), Scott Brenner’s Paradise is Waiting, Joann McFatter’s Magnificent Obsession, Kevin Prosch’s Reckless Mercy and Several anointed worship CD’s too obscure to mention.

I have a new one.

FACING FUTURE by IsraelKamakawiowo’ole (Brudder IZ). 20 plays so far and it is growing on me more and more. You would recognize one cut from it immediately. A sweet high voiced man with a ukulele singing “Somewhere over the Rainbow”. Unfortunately it’s becoming overused in commercials and movies. Sort of Like Carmina Burana’s Il Fortuna.

This is “Hawaiian Music” except, it’s not. It’s one of the most beautiful albums I have heard in a long time. It took me over an hour to find it on the internet. I ordered a half dozen copies. It plays constantly in our home. It’s so hopeful and so rich.

It might be a little hard to find. Went to Borders bookstore and was told it was out of print. Right. It’s a gold record selling like hotcakes.

I predict even though Brudder IZ passed away nearly 10 years ago this CD is about to take on a new life of it’s own. Get it. It’s worth it.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Der Ring des Nibelungen

If you know me you will know that I have enjoyed opera for a long time. I wouldn't tell you I'm and expert. Kevin is. I bow at his knowledge feet.

I get goosebumps when certain passages are sung. I cry at sad operas. Laugh at the buffo. I'm not an opera snob. I wish we could have popcorn and diet cokes in a holder and one of those big seats like you get in modern movie houses. I don't stand on much pretense.

Last night we saw the first of 4 parts of THE RING by Wagner. Rheingold.

Peggy and I saw it 8 years ago. Big. Long. 18 hours of opera in 5 days. Sore rear. Tired. Trainride home arriving at 1AM.

Being gluttons for punishment we signed up again. 15 hours to go.

AND, It was wonderful, majestic, moving, colorful, riveting.

2 1/2 hours without intermission. Seemed like 2.

I have a few observations:
  • The capacity of singers to color the nature of the characters is extraordinary. Alberich becomes almost sympathetic. Mime more submissive. Loge much more pensive and less playful. Woton passive aggressive.
  • The Lord of the Rings trilogy is loosely based on this opera series (So was Star Wars), LOTR tracks with themes in the opera faithfully. I'm sure JRR Tolkien must have been a fan since Wagner wrote this 50 years before LOTR was written..
  • Sometimes minimilism in staging assumes you know more than you do. I sometimes appreciate overt staging to help me understand what's going on.
  • This opera is as much about the futility of satisfied greed and the impotence of realized power in humanity as anything.
  • Even though there is little to offer metaphorically, but since I see Jesus in everything , the fact that the kingdom of the gods is destroyed by the chief god, Woton acting injustly answers a metaphysical question, can God lie. NO. Can he do other than justly, NO.

This cycle of 4 operas is the second for this year. There are tickets for next weeks cycle. If you can take it come to Chicago in the spring, get tickets and prepare for a real mind and body testing exercise. They won't do it again until 2010 or so. Next time I see this it will be in Bayreuth.