I recently joked (Be vewy quiet) about resorting to the classic Bugs Bunny “What’s Opera, Doc?” cartoon as a summary of Richard Wagner’s epic 4-opera Ring Cycle. Last week, PBS aired last winter’s Metropolitan Opera production of all four operas on four succesive nights.
PBS also aired “Wagner’s Dream” a documentary about this production. We learned that four days before showtime, the tenor who played Siegfried became ill; there were just a handful of alternates who can sing the role. There was as much drama behind the curtain as in front of it.
Now for the computer content. The sets involved a large 45-ton mechanical horizontal armature with closely-spaced ribs. It was under some form of computer control.
The performamces in my opinion were Wagner-worthy: fortissimo! I confess that the stories strike me as ridiculous and many characters seem like cariacatures. I wandered away multiple times for my own intermissions. The majesty of Wagner’s music compensated for the operas’ shortcomings for me. It’s worth watching, at least until the inanity of the story forces you to walk away.