Friday, April 14, 2006

Theatres of

BBC Radio 3 is broadcasting Wagner's Ring Cycle complete on Easter Monday. The Guardian made Charlotte Higgins test-drive the idea and here's her reaction.

One of the finest Wagner experts I know found his lifelong fascination for the composer sparked into existence when his uni flatmates threw him out for 24 hours so that they could perform exactly the same exercise. He wanted to know what made them tick, and the rest is history: he's now a prof at Oxford.

I've not dared try this at home, but I do broadly share La Higgins's views on the individual operas - Walkure and Gotterdammerung come out as the clear winners, with Siegfried proving less thrilling and Rhinegold whizzing by like a deceptively pleasant fairy-tale. The father-daughter relationship in Walkure is my favourite thing in the whole cycle and the apocalypse of the Immolation Scene is as mind-blowing now as it was that time I switched on Classic FM while driving down the M3, heard it & then discovered I was doing 100mph. It's some of the most astonishing music ever written, but can one swallow it in one gulp? If you want to try, Monday's your chance.

By the way, I was commissioned to write an article about Gotterdammerung & why it's important, ahead of Covent Garden's new production that opens next week. What with one thing and another, it took me a week to do this. Then it turned out that someone in the News section had done something similar ahead of us in Arts, so my piece never came out. I've started a section in my permasite Archive to provide a home for such orphans, which do occur now and then. Find it here (you'll need to scroll to the bottom of the page).

For some light relief, Richard Morrison, in today's Times, is pretty perplexed by his latest evening at the Barbican. Read his write-up of Marina Laszlo's performance here...

Happy Easter/Pesach/Springtime, everyone!