Today’s MET production of Gotterdammerung, The Twilight of the Gods, belongs to Deborah Voigt. She steals the show. Maybe Siegfried belongs to Jay Hunter Morris, but Gotterdammerung belongs to Voigt.
We have watched her grow from the dutiful, defiant daughter of Wotan in Die Valkyrie, through the beloved of Siegfried, to today’s spurned wife, and ultimate saviour of the gods and man. She has had to portray a range of emotion and span a range of singing as great as in all opera. She has done it with wonderful skill, as an actress and as a singer.
Today she was perfect. Not that young, for she was immortal and had spent long years surrounded by fire. Not that old, for we fell in love with her and grieved at her degradation and rise to greatness. Ms. Voigt has the perfect figure for the part: and her costume emphasized it to perfection as the every-woman and the super-woman. She was, and in my mind, always will be Brunnhilde, the only and the perfect. Her success in this Ring Cycle must surely be a milestone in opera history and set a standard that will be hard to follow.
Jay Hunter Morris as Siegfried too was near perfect. His voice was in fine form, leaving my lady companion all a-twitter with passion–for him. He played the role, as he did in Siegfried, as the young, naïve, almost foolish fellow we know Siegfried is. His smile, his off-hand waves, his drug-induced love, his pain on revelation of his betrayal, are all utterly believable in an opera universe that is not. He too captures the every-young-man hero of folly, boldness, and impetuous commeradie.
Pity though that he appears to have put on some weight since we last saw him—at least he looked a trifle hefty today. Please, somebody persuade him to loose some weight so he looks more the young hero he portrays. Please somebody persuade him not to get fat like some others in today’s cast. It is simply off-putting watching a vast, fat singer parade around a big screen. Maybe it is OK to be fat on a vast stage in a big hall; but on the big screen it is just discomforting. Accolades to Voigt for succeeding weight-wise where others have failed.
Experts have and will continue to write about the story, about the themes, and the motives, etc. of this opera and its place in the Ring Cycle. There is no time and no need in the theatre for intellectual analysis. All me an my opera-going companions could say when it was ended, was “My God!” And then fall silent, overwhelmed by the magnitude and magnificence of it all. We, like the rest of the theatre, just sat silent, unable to move, unable to pull ourselves away from total immersion in music and story of pure perfection.
I have seen other live Ring Cycles; I have a few cycles on DVD. This MET Ring Cycle is by far and away the best. In spite of that rotating machine with its ever-changing colors, today’s production succeeded in emphasizing the intimate, personal story that Gotterdammerung is.
I have seen it played as a world story of gods and mortals. Today we saw fallible men and women seeking self advancement by interaction in the most human way with other humans. Even the interaction between Alberich and Hagen was a mere eight minutes of father-son interaction. Not admirable, but too real to those of us who have brought up sons (successfully in my case.)
Through the four operas, we have grown to like the machine and its rotations. At first it was strange and intrusive. But today it seemed to frame and make small the spaces and the human natures in conflict. Today it was in human proportion and not erratic and over-ambitions as in the past three operas. It final triumph was to close on the pyre, the immolation, and the return of the ring to the river maidens. And to perfectly portray the river as Hagen throws himself after the ring.
So ended a perfect Cycle. We now must just wait for it to come out on DVD so that we can put it on the big TV, pull out a bottle of brandy, and once again take the journey through time, space, music, and emotion.