Neil Steinberg had a great blog yesterday, about his intention to see the entire Ring cycle at Chicago’s Lyric Opera in 2020. For you non-opera fans, this is the four-part, 15-hour magnum opus of Richard Wagner’s “The Ring of the Niebelung,” the most operatic opera of all. Staging it is the Mt. Everest of opera, and watching it is pretty much the same. In Chicago…
The first opera in the cycle, “Das Rheingold,” will be staged in the 2016/17 season, with the other three, “Die Walkure,” “Siegried” and “Gotterdammerung” performed in each subsequent season, with the whole megillah, as Wagner definitely would not say, being performed — three complete Ring Cycles — in April, 2020.
Mark your calendars.
What I liked about it, though, were his observations on Big Works, and why they’re still important:
…like a mountain, a massive work calls to you. Not by its pure massivity, mind you. There are plenty of works that are long, multi-part 19th century romance novels and such, that have fallen into deserved obscurity.
But certain long works endure into our Twittery time, not because they’re big, but because they’re also good. Very good, wonderful, something that becomes clear when you gird your loins and finally sit down and read them. If they weren’t, they’d be forgotten. People don’t hold onto these things because they should, but because they have to. War and Peace is the template for every Barbara Cartland novel that followed. It isn’t tedious — well, much of it isn’t — but filled with love and conversation, with blood and battle, with war and, umm, peace. It’s a great book. That sounds obvious, but so many years of it being a “great book” sometimes obscure that. Tolstoy knew his stuff.
I need to read a great work this summer. So much depends on translation, though, and how do you choose the right one? I started “Dr. Zhivago” when I found a copy at a vacation house we rented years ago, but absolutely couldn’t penetrate it. Just show me one hint of Julie Christie and Omar Sharif, I kept thinking. Nothing doing.
Maybe that’s part of the problem. So many great books have been adapted into something else, and necessarily sliced down to a shadow of their original selves. We need to approach them as something completely new. On the other hand, Steinberg does a nice job explaining why the Ring is pretty much the single source for all opera jokes in pop culture; it is where the fat lady sang, after all.
OK, a quick cut to the bloggage, because this has been one long icy-lumpy-fuck week:
Columbusites! Remember Larry’s bar on High Street? Here’s a lot of old pictures from the place. I wasn’t a regular, but I loved that place.
I just found this, but it MUST BE SHARED. Of course Wendy’s day-care center posts daily photos; how else would her humans get through a day without her? (This is from Monday, obvs.)
Finally, can the Marlise Munoz case in Texas get any worse? Hard to imagine. How awful.
Let’s all have a good weekend.