Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Wagner's Dream

Here's what I liked most about Wagner's Dream: we got to see some vulnerability from Peter Gelb. He seemed human and reachable. His public facade up until now had been aloof and reptilian. He was channelling Rudolf Bing, who it was said had a very dry and active wit. Gelb looked worried and looked tense. It made me like him.

The 2 hr film was more the story of Robert Lepage and his ExMachina Company in Quebec. The building and assembly of the controversial machine-the set for the new Ring Cycle at the Met-is certainly a story, but this film was more Robert's Dream than anyone else's. It's a PR tool for the Metropolitan. No harm there but how much blocking and staging was actually done. Why so little discussion of the characters? It was all mechanics and very little character.

That said, I know James Levine withdrew because if illness early on, but still. Where the hell was he? A few rehearsals shots were not enough. He is the artistic conscience of the company and has been for forty years. He deserves respect. If he was unavailable for an extensive interview he could have been acknowledged more. James Levine conducting the Met orchestra in Wagner is was one of the best experiences of my life.

The story of Jay Hunter Morris pinch hitting and making good is worth a separate film. A big, good looking bruiser from Paris Texas who can actually sing (yes, sing) Siegfried. What's not to love? He gave a brief interview during the HD Walkure a few months ago. The audience where I was fell in love with him.

We had a lot of Debbie Voigt-no bad thing. I would have liked more Bryn Terfel and Stephanie Blythe. Who wouldn't? And one thing was clear. Like it or not, I doubt anyone can work on the Lepage Ring without an engineering degree. I fear for all the expense and all the trouble, the 'mystery will be gone' and theRing in New York will no longer be a great event. It was that as recently as the mid nineties, in the Otto Schenk production that had held forth for years. And they didn't have the two big boys: Bryn 'n' Jay.

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