Thursday, May 22, 2008

Wagner: Opera's Biggest Cult

Let's face it: Opera is a cult. Not the crazy, torch-bearing kind, but a cult all the same. Within this cult is a series of smaller cults. Indisputably the biggest opera cult is the Wagner cult.
And while Wagner is not really my "thing" (and yes, I've tried it. It was fantastic, don't get me wrong. Again, just not my thing) I understand Wagner's cult and completely respect him as a composer and musical genius.
Here's a small (youtube) tribute to Wagner on his birthday:

The Ride of the Valkyries (oh man, stereotype?)
The Liebsetod from Tristan und Isolde performed by Birgit Nilsson
Wotan's final scene in Die Walkure performed by James Morris (probably my favorite part of any Wagner opera)
The prelude from Lohengrin
Siegfried's Funeral March
Act III from Der Meistersinger von Nurnberg featuring James Morris, Karita Mattila, and Ben Heppner. I seriously remember years and years ago sitting in my grandmother's kitchen watching this on PBS. I remember trying to translate the title (rather unsuccessfully), asking my mom why the soprano made funny faces (hee hee. love you, Karita!!), and trying to make sense of it. I watched it all the way until dinner time and was disappointed when after it was already over. Then a few months ago I remembered watching it and said "Oh my gosh, I can name most of the singers in that now just from remembering what they look like. That's scary!" It was fate!

Happy Birthday, Wagner!

Happy Listening!! =)

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