Monday, May 18, 2009

Das Rheingold; the low-down

Yesterday, Lisa, her sister, and I went to the Indianapolis Opera to see their semi-staged performance of Wagner's Das Rheingold, the first opera of his Ring Cycle. I'd never been to Indy Opera before, and had no idea who was singing in the cast. And I wasn't sure what to expect from this performance.

And, as Wagner always does, I was blown away.

By far the most memorable singer of the opera was Greer Grimsley, who sang Wotan. Previous to seeing Rheingold yesterday, James Morris had been my only Wotan in live performance. And he set the bar extremely high. How high? Check it out here. You almost don't want to hear anyone else sing the role. So whenever I heard of anyone else singing Wotan, I was always a little skeptical, measuring the singer up to Morris.
I had heard wonderful things about Grimsley's voice, especially from his performances of Wotan in Seattle, so I was excited to get to hear him. And he blew me away! His voice cut easily over the orchestra, which was behind the singers. His performance was commanding, and his performance was magnetic. It's good to know that once Morris no longer sings Wotan, there's someone out there who can more than fill his shoes.

The performance was called a semi-staged concert version, but it didn't have that feeling. The "set" was various levels of scaffolding on the orchestra pit that were raised and lowered at the beginning and end of each scene. A screen was almost entirely lowered over the orchestra, showing images conveying each scene's setting; water for the Rhein, a mountain with a fortress for Valhalla, and a descent into a mine for Niebelheim. The only really cheesy moment with the screen was when Fafner killed his brother. A large metal pole-thing twirled across the screen, "hitting" Fasholt, and causing blood to appear on the screen. But the way in which the giants were depicted was very interesting; on either side of the stage were higher sets of scaffolding. Each bass stood on either scaffolding with a light projected on them, casting a large shadow on the screen. It was interesting and it worked well.

The singers were also semi-costumed. The Rheinmaidens wore flowing sparkly dresses, all different colors and teased Alberich (Richard Paul Fink, dressed in jeans, tennis shoes, a tuxedo shirt and vest) with transparent shawls. The gods were all in traditional "concert" attire, although Loge (Adam Klein, who sang wonderfully and acted delightfully) was dressed in a black suit with a bright orange shirt. And there were props too, which gave it more of a "fully-staged" feeling than anything; Wotan's Spear, the Rheingold, the Tarnhelm, and even the Ring itself.

And of course, that feeling of Wagner's music physically overwhelming you is unparalleled. You can't help but be taken in when you hear the giant's Leitmotiv the gods entrance into Valhalla at the end of the opera. One helluva show!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Beginning of summer

One week of summer has gone by, and so far I'm enjoying myself. So far, I have

-helped children learn to use a drop-spindle at a fiber arts festival
-seen my brother graduate from college. =)
-been to a spinning guild meeting
-finished reading The Count of Monte Cristo
-planned to go see Das Rheingold in Indy on Sunday with Lisa, her sister Laura, and Dan!

Monte Cristo took me all semester to read, and now I'm searching for something else to read. Dostoevsky?

Thursday, May 07, 2009


After one heck of a semester, I'm back at home and bouncing back from Bloomington. I've realized how much I've learned and grown in this semester, and when I look back on what I started with in January and what I've learned and accomplished in these 4 months, I'm a bit shocked. This semester, I...

-Made my operatic debut
-Covered another role
-Had a few "social" firsts
-Discovered that I'm a music theory nerd
-Started learning some "big girl" music (arias from The Rape of Lucretia, Semiramide, and Idomeneo, and my teacher gave me the okay to look at Mahler's Kindertotenlieder)
-Planned to go to Italy!!!
-Officially became an upper classman at IU
-Started planning my junior recital
-Had "the grad school talk" with my teacher, which sort of developed into...
-"The career talk"
-Decided to do an independent music theory study for the spring semester, studying the vocal works of Sergei Rachmaninoff

And of course there are many other experiences that have really changed me this semester, and while it was sometimes unpleasant, it's made me a better person. It's been a whilrwind of a semester, and it went by so fast.