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The Ring Cycle

November 20, 2006

I’m really in the thick of it now.  School is going full force and I’ve got many things I should be doing instead of blogging, but I need a little break.  So here we are, talking a little music talk.  Because that’s all I have for you right now.
This weekend I did a little extra credit by watching Der Ring des Nibelungen  or  the Ring Cycle, with some of my classmates and peers.  We showed up at our professors house around noon on  Saturday, and luckily we had already watched Die Walkure for class.

For those who are not familiar with The Ring Cycle, this is the largest opera.  It’s like completing a marathon for opera watchers/performers.  Usually when it’s performed, the four operas are presented on four consecutive nights.  We were going to do three of the four in one day.  Each opera is about four hours long with very few breaks.  Most of the time the melodies are not particularly memorable, and sometimes the characters sing about the same thing for thirty minuets, just to make sure you understand how they feel.  Many people enjoy picking out all of the things Tolkien borrowed for The Lord of the Rings, but the plot/characters are not nearly as accessible or interesting.  That is unless you really relate with incestuous relationships.

So why would I submit myself to this?  I felt like it was a right of passage.  Every music student should have to suffer through the Ring Cycle at some point (Did I say suffer? I didn’t mean that).  Often times people describe it as a bonding experience.  I figured it may be the last opportunity I had to do this as a student.

Well, we didn’t quite finish.  We got through Siegfried but didn’t watch  GötterdämmerungWe got kicked out with full credit.  Which was fine, because I wasn’t sure how much more I could take.

It’s not that I hate Wagner.  No, I know he has contributed  a lot towards the traditions of performance today.  The Bayreuth is close to how our concert halls are built now (just a little more uncomfortable), and the lights dim at show time because of him.  But Listening to that much un-melodic opera would be hard for any brain.  It’s okay, you can just trust me on that one.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. Barbara-Kay permalink
    November 21, 2006 5:09 am

    My mother was an orchestra major as an undergrad. When I was a little girl she had a daschund planter with a cactus in it. The planter was named Götterdämmerung! Mother would never curse, but in moments of great frustration, she would yell at the planter: Götterdämmerung! :smile:

  2. Jodie permalink
    November 21, 2006 10:09 am

    Hehe! That’s a great story! I love that the planter was named after a Wagner opera. That’s the sign of a true music geek. I might have to borrow that curse sometime when I’m frusturated.

  3. Gray permalink
    November 22, 2006 5:39 am

    Wow, I could never had made it through that. I have never been a fan of the monumental school of music. One of the self indulgent charms of being an amateur is that I only have to pay attention to music I like.

    I took a long lunch break on Monday to watch a Conservatory student I know conduct Vaughn Williams’ The Lark Ascending. It went very well, and the piece is a favorite of mine, but I knew how much work and anxiety lay behind it for him. It reminded me of all your work.

    I enjoyed the “thirty minuets,” but was not positive if it was a typo or humor.

    Have a most wonderful Thanksgiving!

    -Gray

  4. Reina permalink
    November 23, 2006 7:09 am

    I share your pain – er, pleasure. Did the exact same thing when I was an undergrad about 35 years ago. It was the least pleasant experience of that particular course. Don’t remember if I took my knitting…

  5. November 25, 2006 6:03 am

    I think I would shoot myself before I would watch that whole thing in that few sittings. You are way more tolerant than I!

  6. Jodie permalink
    November 25, 2006 2:13 pm

    Gray – The whole education system is built to burn you out, no matter what subject you study. However, I know I won’t be completely burnt out when I’m done, and will be more than ready to have a more healthy relationship with my music. The thirty minuets was a typo. I meant thirty minutes. hehehe.

    Reina – At least you can say you did it. It’s some sort of music student test of courage, or something….

    Jessica – It’s amazing what a student does for extra credit, plus I knitted more than I had all week. It was a great excuse to let myself have some knitting time instead of feeling guilty for it.

  7. December 5, 2006 4:50 pm

    I don’t know anyone who’s ever gotten all the way through Götterdämmerung. It’s mostly recap and filler from what I’ve heard.

    I do love the rest of the Ring, though.

  8. Jodie permalink
    December 13, 2006 9:38 pm

    Someday, I’ll have to watch it, just so I can say I’ve seen the whole cycle. ;)

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