The thing one realizes while sitting through Wagner’s six-hour finale extravaganza is that he really is a genius, because to some extent it doesn’t matter just what they do up on the stage, so long as all the performers are good. Not only is the music beautiful, but it also tells the story almost by itself, and not just with the words, but with the notes, the motifs, sometimes just the undertone. You don’t even mind the extensive interludes, no longer necessary because not even a modern set as mechanical as this one actually needs all that time to change, but just listening to them’s worth sitting through all those planks’ silly moving about.
The set actually does some of its fanciest maneuvering in Gotterdamrung, even to the point that occasionally you forget it’s there, which was quite polite of it, mostly during the sequences in the “human world,” which perhaps works as symbolism, sort of. Unfortunately, after also impressing during the scene of Siegfried’s death, the staging in general falls flat during the final sequence of Brunnhilde’s burning the world down, and while Deborah Voigt is quite happy to be too spectacular for the audience to care for the first twenty minutes of it, then she kills herself, and you’re left to enjoy the music, but you have to ask those undulating planks, “Is that all?” It’s supposed to come full circle, of course, because they undulated at the beginning of Das Rheingold, but that just made me think that they were unimpressive then too, though at least both occasions have music so good it’s all okay.
The other big highlight of this particular show, though certainly everyone sung well enough, was in the third act, when after two operas of expending all his energy keeping up with Voigt, Jay Hunter Morris actually gets a chance to exceed our expectations, by not only singing but doing a wrenching acting job during the death of Siegfried; it really is remarkable for how much of this one he really does keep you from disliking Siegfried, seeing as the character’s still an asshole. He’s not quite wide-eyed anymore during his interview, and of course they’re now throwing in calculated things like references to his wife and kid(there have been quite a few gay rumors going around, apparently), but despite the hostess this time being nothing special, for some reason the interviews were much more entertaining than usual, perhaps as they tried to get around the fact that the only character who even half makes sense psychologically is the villainous Hagan(that singer wasn’t interviewed). But hey, we’re used to ignoring that by now, right?