May 20th, 2014

Mermaid Sub

Water Can Break Anywhere

I've just learned an aquarium exploded in the apartment above me to-day. My landlady came by to see if there was any damage to my ceiling. A visible line of moisture about a foot long will necessitate a workman cutting out the piece of ceiling as part of a process that will take three days. And of course water will be shut off in my building once again to-morrow for three hours.

I suppose an exploding fish tank might have made a terrific noise though perhaps I was unable to distinguish it from the construction that's been going on next door for about a week and over which I'd been trying to watch a production of Das Rheingold, perhaps an appropriate thing to watch while a fish tank exploded above me.



This was the 1989 New York Metropolitan opera production of Der Ring des Nibelungen conducted by James Levine which has a number of reviews on Amazon complaining about the fact that its costumes and production reflect the mediaeval fantasy Wagner intended. Why do so many people feel productions of Shakespeare and Wagner have to be reinterpretations? Why not let Wotan be Wotan instead of an industrial tycoon or a spaceship captain?

I can understand how altering the time and place can make a statement about the universality of the themes. Personally, when someone points a gun and refers to it as a sword it tends to come across to me like the character is trying to use a metaphor which often times isn't an appropriate thing for that character to do.



The aesthetic of this production looks sort of art nouveau, perhaps influenced by Arthur Rackham's illustrations for the operas. I love Wotan's half-cape. And the Rhine Maidens look great, though of course I wish they were naked.



The only other production of Der Ring des Nibelungen I've watched in full is a 1980 Bayreuth Festival production that set the action in a minimalist, vague 19th century. I think I preferred Donald McIntyre as Wotan in that one but singing's mostly fine in this newer one. I look forward to watching Die Walkure.