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Monday, February 15, 2010

Northern European Wuxia?

Yesterday a matinee. Wagner.  Die Walkure. (Review the plot here if you don't know it.) I don't really like it, but I still enjoyed it.  I drifted off a bit in middle of the first act, bored by the lengthy posing of characters waiting to sing, but regained full consciousness just as Siegmund yanked the sword from the tree that grows in the middle of Hunding's house.  This could be wuxia.  Magical weapons, revenge, father-daughter conflicts, incest, adultery, betrayal, broken deals, battles, horses, filial piety. And wolves. But not much chivalry. Except for the magic swords, pretty much like life as reflected in the daily news.

Still, Wagner, and this whole Ring Cycle thing seems like ultimate guy fantasy to me. All about obligations and contracts, kind of dreary in a way. And when it comes to emotional German music, I prefer** Beethoven (and Mahler) to Wagner, and what I've seen of Wagner always seem me.  Maybe it's that fire thing (which in this production was reduced to a light-show, no real flames from gas jets).

In any case, Brunnhilde and her band of biker chicks could take a lesson from Chinese wuxia femmes fatales...lose the leather, try a little colorful silk and do something with your hair!   (Though in this production they weren't sporting the expected horned or winged helmets, but looked like they had robbed some medieval Italian academic's closet.) You can still have your swords and flying horses. But maybe practice a little tai chi.

While Brunnhilde is agonizing (martyring herself, really) over her own inability to quite fulfill a contract with Wotan, her father, basically an emperor whose Mandate of Heaven is in jeopardy, I just wanted her to tell him he was full of it.  But as the Wizard pointed out, "You can't say that to a god."

Well, why not?

So I endured Die Walkure.  In two weeks, as part of the season-ticket bargain, the Wizard gets to endure La Boheme (the opera that was practically a character in a favorite film of mine, Moonstruck).  I kinda wish they would have picked that one as the offering for Lunar New Year.

**Though there's a nice clip of Bernstein here conducting the conclusion;  I still prefer Italian opera.

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