Headgear

As we got to the end of Act II of Walkure, it occurred to me that the moments of unintentional hilarity were getting much harder to find. The despair of Wotan at the loss of his free will, the burden of Brunnhilde to ensure the death of the Walsung, Sieglinde’s shame and Siegmund being told of his imminent death- these are not the stuff of comedy. Part of Wagner’s genius is in setting up such a ludicrous scenario and then making you care passionately for each of the characters (except possibly Froh, who I find to be kind of useless).

Fortunately, this staging offers us the clear alien head helmets of the Valkyries in Act III, which are simply the funniest headgear I’ve ever seen. Good old-fashioned horns would have been way more believable. It’s a little bit of much needed comic relief before the return to high tragedy.

Still, great orchestra work and mostly awesome singing…. First hint of the enormity of our task when we switched discs for Act III and realized it was going to take him an hour and thirteen minutes to put Brunhilde to sleep so we can get lunch.

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About the author

American conductor, composer and cellist Kenneth Woods is Principal Conductor of the English Symphony Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Colorado MahlerFest and cellist of the string trio Ensemble Epomeo. He records for the Avie, Somm, Nimbus, Signum, MSR and Toccata labels.

Learn about Kenneth at www.kennethwoods.net

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