Sunday, June 26, 2011

Spiders, clocks and Valkyries

Crafty, nubile Rhinemaidens (Woglinde, Wellgunde, Floßhilde) tease the dwarf Alberich as he reaches out for one of them -- the scene that begins The Ring.
Illustration to Richard Wagner's Das Rheingold/Wikimedia

The week is sure to be epic. By this time next Sunday I will have (somehow) absorbed nearly 20 hours of Wagnerian opera. Tuesday evening marks the first installment of Der Ring Des Nibelungen, a four-part opera-to-end-all-operas.Woody Allen once said that Wagner left him with an urge to invade Poland, we'll see what it does to me.

Rhine scene from the San Francisco production/

I've been trying to do my homework to prepare for the ordeal event. Though, it seems, I won't be nearly as well-versed as I should be. I checked George Martin's Opera Companion out from the library and, turning to the Ring section was welcomed by this cheery advice:
[The Ring] requires considerable work: reading at least two books in addition to the libretto and spending several hours at the piano or victrola. If the opera goer does not care to put in that time or has not done so, he would do better to stay home, even if offered free seats.
I'm sorry Martin, stuff it. I'm going. I've neither read the libretto nor sat down at the victrola, but at my side I'll have (in spirit) Anna Russel, comedienne and Ring-interpreter extraordinaire, and (in person) Emilia, sweet and virtuous friend. Somehow the three of us will make it through. {Cue Valkyrie music.}

Part of the reason I haven't been spending hours at the piano with Wagner's score is that I've started writing for Wired Science on once again. It's keeping me busy, caffeinated and happy. My two most recent pieces: A gallery of the world's most impressive time-keeping devices and a video of spiders in space. Stay tuned for more.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, congratulations on braving the Ring and I hope you enjoy it. It's been my most thrilling discovery of recent years as well. In particular, Die Walkuere (can't do diacritics, typing on phone) is full of unbelievably great music ... the long final scene between Bruennhilde and Wotan is kind of my favorite thing ever.