Again, let us leave aside politics and presidential campaigns--or try, anyway--and talk about something else. You recall last week, I set out to escape the angst that comes with the thought that a complete ass could conceivably become the most powerful man in the world. But that pest Red showed up and wouldn't let me be until I was forced to tell him that his dear GOP has degenerated into a raging contagion of false ideas and false men.
It was partly my fault. As my getaway mechanism, I chose to venture onto the gridiron of football--a huge mistake. I am as misplaced in the presence of pigskin patter as Prince Harry would be at a Mensa luncheon. Is it any wonder Red was able to sneak up on me while I was so imprudently engaged?
This week, I shall duck out of the political din on my own terms, on my own turf. Tonight, I go traipsing into my first and abiding love--the world of music. I have just now, at 1 a.m., finished watching the last scene in the last opera of Der Ring Des Nibelungen by Richard Wagner. Four nights in a row, throughout four long, long operas, I've watched Alberich (the evil king of the gnomes) scheme to get his magic ring back, Wotan (the king of the gods) scheme to make sure Alberich never gets his magic ring back, Brunhilde (the queen of the Valkyries) scheme to slay any man she is in love with, and Siegfried (the dumbest hero in the history of opera) scheme to understand what's happening.
Were I the sort that used overly used banalities like "bucket list," I'd say it's been on my bucket list to see the complete Ring cycle before I die. And thanks to NYC's Metropolitan Opera and PBS's Great Performances, I can now scratch that one off. Tonight, I have determined to write this belated review not so much of the Met's production--which was (in opera talk) faaa-bulous--but the operas themselves. I'm 150 years late with such a review, and I realize that by now, people have decided for themselves whether they love or hate Wagner's epic. Still, I am certain there are nooks and crannies to this monumental work that still might be explored.
Besides, my editor informed me today ... er, yesterday ... that due to some unique layout concerns for the upcoming Boise Weekly, my normal wordage has to be lopped off by a hefty hunk to make room for a particularly fat advertisement. And since I am left with a truncated remainder of my accustomed column space, it seems to me that a jaunt back to the opera houses of pre-Puccini Europe would be not only a refreshing break from the political sturm und drang, but a stressless way to fill the page under unusual circumstances.
So on to Herr Wagner and his magnum opus. So many mysteries, yes? For instance, why would Wagner leave Wotan entirely out of Gotterdammerung after making him such a prominent character in the first three operas? And what about that talking bird who led Siegfried to Brunhilde? Sheer genius ... or just silly? But let's start by asking Wagner's lingering spirit a simple question: Yo, Dick! Would it have killed ya' to stick a pretty song in there somewhere? Good honk, you had 16 hours of recitative and not one damn aria. And another thing. Don't you think ...
"Psst, Cope! You still awake?"
"Bob! Damnit! You scared the pee-wadding out of me. What are you doing here so late?"
"I couldn't stay away, Cope. That f***ing stunt Mitt Romney pulled is bothering me too much to keep quiet about it."
"Which stunt? You mean where he started blabbing about the embassies being attacked before he had any idea what he was talking about?"
"Yeah, that f***ing stunt. Now, are you gonna write it, or do I have to?"
"Look, Bob. I'm trying to forget all that stuff for a day or two. And what is it you want me to write, anyway?"
"How Mitt Romney is a douche."
"Bob, I can't say that! Jeez! Besides, I have to finish what I'm doing."
"What are you doing? What's more important than telling the world Romney is a douche?"
"I'm doing a review of the Ring of the Nibelung. It may not be more important than telling the world Romney is a douche, but it's important to me. And I'm running out of room here. Now, if you won't go away, just sit there and don't say anything, OK?
And another thing, Dick ... don't you think a little dance music would have broken up the tension some? Really, there's nothing like watching Rhine Maidens doing a little