Guest blogger: Hannah Kate Schaeffer
Last night, I went to see a Metropolitan Opera broadcast on the big screen (at a Cinemark movie theatre near you). This concept may seem odd to you, as it was to me when I watched promotions for it before the movie I paid to see. I always asked myself who would pay to see a 3-hour-long opera at a movie theatre when instead you could see a quick, shallow romantic comedy? As of yesterday, though, I will no longer wonder about the lost souls who spent their money on such an attraction because I am now one of them!
Yes, the production played for 2 ½ hours without intermission, and the local Cinemark is nothing compared to the stunning Met Opera concert hall, but after 2 minutes of Wagner’s Das Rheingold I was hooked. The opera is part of Wagner’s Ring Cycle, which consists of 6 parts – each playing separately through the next few weeks.
The curtains opened to three mermaids (or Rheinmaidens) who sang lightly like angels as they guarded Das Rheingold – the golden ring that can only be kept by someone who vows to live without love. The maiden’s flirty voices made a striking contrast against the bellowing song of the god Wotan and his almighty brothers. As Wotan traveled through the gray perdition to find Das Rheingold, he was led by his brother, a god of fire with the loveliest voice of all. They eventually acquired the coveted ring and narrowly escaped the curses of the vengeful and deceitful previous owner. In the end, all was well and Wotan’s brother created a rainbow for the heavenly royalty to pass through to their next journey.
My favorite part of this production, however, was the stage set. The ambiance was minimalist yet monumental; a row of tall, rotating bars stretched out across the stage and served as both a backdrop and an interactive platform. In one moment, the mermaids used their tails to sweep watery rocks down into the depths of the ocean and in the next a starry sky would appear behind the gods. Wotan’s brother conjured up a thunderstorm as he stood atop the horizontal bars, striking down lightning wherever he thrust his staff. When a god or goddess flew in from the ‘sky,’ they actually slid down the bars on their bellies and landed among the ‘clouds’ where the other gods stood. Wotan and his guide walked completely parallel to the stage floor across the vertical bars and down into the underworld.
Das Rheingold was nothing less than an invigorating journey and an engaging performance from the Met Opera cast. The remaining performances are Siegfried (May 16) and Gotterdammerung (May 19). They are playing at The Arbor Cinema, the Metropolitan 14, and Cinemark Southpark Meadows.
~posted by Hannah Kate Schaeffer, KMFA Administrative Assistant