The 2012-13 opera season has come and almost gone. For whatever wonders summer may hold, the Met Opera season of broadcasts closes this weekend with the living end, Richard Wagner's "Götterdämmerung."
In a staggering marathon of recapitulations, developments, plot changes and reversals, and a grand procession of leitmotivs that ignite a conflagration that ends the opera, the gods and the world are reborn in the cleansing fires of the overflowing Rhine.
I have recently been reading about the post World War II international attempts to restore Europe, both materially and spiritually.
This struggle for renewal after suffering and oppression is given a musical shape in Francis Poulenc's, "Dialogues des Carmélites." Though premiered in 1956, its origins are in the period directly after the war in 1947-49.
If you're older than thirty you may know something of the unlikely and extremely rare probability of a baroque opera being performed at the Metropolitan Opera. This was sometime in the late eighties, but in musical terms seems a lifetime ago.
To quote Inspector Morse, the opera loving sleuth, "I was horrified to discover that the tickets I had received for Wagner were in fact for Handel!"
I can think of no opera composer of the first rank who has undergone so radical a transformation of fortune as Handel.
The Norse god Wotan - like his counterparts in the south, Zeus and Jupiter - got around as they say. He wasn't named "all-father" for nothing. The second opera of Richard Wagner's Ring cycle is about three of his offspring.
First, the legitimate daughter Brünnhilde, who is a Valkyrie -a collector of the heroic dead slain in battle - and after whom this opera is named. Then there are the twins Siegmund and Sieglende, their mother is Erda - mother earth.
After a decades-long struggle, the patience and slavish commitment of numberless friends, an inspiration that can truly be called superhuman, and a streak of luck that beggars the imagination, Richard Wagner finally finished his epic "Ring."
Despite the luminaries in attendance over the years - from Hugo Wolf and a who’s who of European royalty, to Tchaikovsky, Bernard Shaw and others - it could never pay its way.
There are a handful of operas that define the genre; their time period irrelevant and their themes go to the very heart of the human condition.
We live with these creations daily without our knowing it and they are the very musical air we breath. They exist in the opera house, on the the concert stage (without scenery), in the recital hall (as excerpts, arranged for piano), in the elevator, on the radio, in the lightest cartoons and the darkest dramas - and yes, in the shower.
Few single cantos of poetry have ever given as much to the world as Dante’s Canto V from the Inferno and the brief telling at the close of the love, death and afterlife of Francesca da Rimini.
Beginning with Dante in 1308 among the painters, musicians, painters , playwrights inspired by the tale can be included: Mercadante, Leigh Hunt, Ingres, Rodin, Rossini, Rachmaninoff, Doré (whose illustrations are reprinted to this day), Foote and of course Tchaikovsky, whose tone poem has done much to popularize the theme .