Sunday, February 12, 2012

Funky Fingers Down to Earth, and some notes on "Götterdämmerung"

This polish seemed very appropriate for yesterday's six-hour live broadcast of The Metropolitan Opera's new production of "Götterdämmerung."

I'll get my nerd on after the polish, but this opera is the conclusion of composer Richard Wagner's Ring Cycle, which is comprised of four operas about Norse gods, men and Ragnarok. "Götterdämmerung" means "the twilight of the gods" and Valhalla, the home of the gods, goes up in flames at the end from Siegfried's funeral pyre, all to the music of the famous Immolation Scene ... GREAT ODIN'S RAVEN, indeed! (Sorry. I had to.)

The whole thing started with "Das Rheingold," the magical ring forged from -- wait for it -- gold from the Rhine, that allows its wearer to rule the world if the wearer first renounces love. Oh, that's heavy.

Three coats with Cult Nails Wicked Fast.

I'm not sure what makes this different from other gold foils, but it seems softer and more delicate. It's got a thinner formula (let me stress: thin, but NOT watery), and one thin coat actually makes a rather nice sparkly gold sheer:

Two coats get you bald spots if you're like me and hold your hand up to the light to check for them, so I used three for full opacity. As most foils do, it dried quickly.

I don't remember when I got this polish! It was either last year, or the year before that. In any case, Funky Fingers can be found at Five Below for $2 a piece, or three for $5. Sometimes the line has original colors, but most of the time, it's repackaged Color Clubs! I'm not as well-versed in Color Club's catalog as some of you are (especially my friend Madeline), so I can't tell you what the Color Club counterpart for Down to Earth would be.

You can stop reading now, because I'm gonna get my nerd on with a few things I wanted to comment on regarding yesterday's performance:
  • I'd read reviews about the anticlimactic destruction of Valhalla in this particular Lepage production. Several reviewers had written that this was depicted almost comically, with the heads and arms popping off statues that represented the gods. I was inclined to agree. I made sure to pay attention yesterday to see how I felt, and while it wasn't as laughable as I'd dreaded, it certainly did not match the strong, epic music. Come on. GODS AND HEROES BURN IN THE HALLS. I'm gonna need more than what I got.
  • The mechanical horse (Brunnhilde's steed, Grane) was not as awful or cheesy as I thought it might be. I guess that's why the end of Valhalla bothered me -- poor expectations had been dodged and I was hoping that would carry through to the end of the show! Admittedly the whole Siegfried-as-Gunther via Tarnhelm wasn't that great but I don't know how else that could have been staged.
  • I know nothing about conducting and orchestration, but I can tell you that Fabio Luisi is a conductor who let the leitmotifs really shine here. Even if I didn't listen to the interview with the maestro, I would be able to tell that he made a conscious effort to emphasize them.
  • I enjoyed Patricia Racette as a broadcast host. She seemed more "together" in the position, and had the kind of presence that such a person needs. I think she could use a little work in ending the interviews less abruptly, but if she keeps hosting, she'll get the hang of it. (I know when someone is being awkward turtle ... I did the same thing in college.)
  • Someone's cell phone rang near the beginning of the final act, but I'm not sure if that was a person in my venue, or someone watching from The Met. Cell phones, BOO.
Lastly, there's my latest spirit animal hero, Jay Hunter Morris.

(source: NY Post)

--If I were to have a celebrity dinner party, he is definitely on my list. Though he'd probably protest being referred to as a celebrity, I would love to pick this man's brain. (For now I'll have to settle for some of his blog entries.)
His Met debut as Siegfried last fall was a triumph, and he didn't disappoint in "Götterdämmerung." Last fall was the first time a global audience of this size had heard of the tenor from Paris, TX who stepped into the role after it was vacated by the previous cast member due to illness. Remarkable, yes, but what makes this even more so is that Morris took over Siegfried with a mere eight days to opening night. (What I didn't know was that he had played Siegfried previously in San Francisco, so he wasn't a complete unknown nor was he unfamiliar with the vocal demands of the role.)
I've heard some whispered criticisms and read some comments about his singing occasionally being pitchy, but I kindly would like to tell those people to sit down. Siegfried is considered to be the hardest role for a tenor to sing, and there are only a few men in the world who can do it. While they may not be 100% perfect, we should be glad that they try at all! I lack formal musical education and I still consider myself an operatic neophyte, but I know enough by now to tell when a performer is not only trying to do a good job, but also succeeds.
And I must give credit where credit is due. In addition to being able to sing the role, PERIOD, Morris' characterization of Siegfried is a departure from what I've known. Siegfried is not the most likeable character -- clearly he's set up as the hero, but that doesn't mean you're going to LIKE him. He's arrogant and typical teenager, and originally I wasn't excited to have to sit through that for five hours. But Morris' Siegfried changed my mind. To be sure, his Siegfried is arrogant and impetuous, but he also displays a sense of humor and warmth.
It seems Morris got his big break overnight, and I've read so many articles that begin by listing some of his previous jobs, where he sold rollerblades in Central Park and handed out gym towels. Certainly he had some less than glamorous jobs, however, he did not go from those to singing at The Met in a snap. He studied opera and worked for it for twenty-three years. This graf from a brief NY Times profile sums up part of what is so great about Morris and why his big break is so well-deserved:
"To be self-critical without being self-destructive may be the single most valuable trait of adult life. Mr. Morris says he does not have the tenor quality 'where I can just open up and be glorious,' but he cops to being persistent."
I'm one of those people who can't be self-critical without being self-destructive, which in a strange way is largely why I find Morris' journey so inspiring. When you've been trying to find a professional direction for as long as I've been, you get a lot of advice, and a lot of it is to stay positive and to be persistent. (I roll my eyes A LOT.) Also strangely, it's refreshing to see someone I don't know be so handsomely rewarded for these qualities; in a small way, it makes me want to try harder to find and develop my own meager talents. Thor's balls ... who knew that much self-discovery could come from listening to Wagner for a couple of afternoons?
If you just read through all of this, thank you! And please let me know what you think -- about the polish, about Wagner, about JMo, about job-hunting -- I'd love to hear it!


  1. I would NOT be able to sit through a 6-hour opera! Or any opera, actually. Or anything that's 6 hours. I had a hard time making it through the 3-hour director's cut of Apocalypse Now.

    My educated guess is that this might be close to Color Club Antiquated!

    1. Well, it's Wagner. You're lucky if it's four hours, LOL. And to be fair, I haven't even tried watching the "Apocalypse Now" director's cut!!!, so you win on that front. :)

      Thanks! I wasn't totally sure. Upon closer inspection, I'm thinking might be closer a less scented Gingerbread Man -- Antiquated has a touch of rose gold and this doesn't. But thanks for pointing me in the right direction!!!

  2. I am not a Wagner fan. I'm more Mozart. I love reading this kind of stuff from you. I'm a classical music freak and there just aren't enough people out there who get into it! I was a harpsichord major in college. You should listen to some Scarlotti and Jean Phillipe Rameau who is my harpsichord god! I love your blog!

    1. Thanks, Fingers! :) I think I read that you played the harpsichord on your blog! What a nifty instrument. There's something comforting about baroque music to me, I don't know how to describe it.

      I actually have heard a little bit of Rameau before, and again last month when I saw The Met's broadcast of "The Enchanted Island." It was a baroque pastiche that blended Handel, Vivaldi & Rameau with two Shakespeare plays -- I loved it!


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