I just returned from watching the HD live simulcast of the Metropolitan Opera’s matinee performance of Wagner’s Siegfried. After five and half hours in another world, I’m not really sure what day it is. But it doesn’t matter. I’ve been convening with the gods and had a ringside (oh, pun appreciated!) seat at a resurrection which left me breathless and sobbing. Brunhilde (two dots over the ‘u’) is wakened from her 18 year slumber by a kiss from Siegfried. It may sound like Sleeping Beauty, but with Wagner’s incredible score underneath instead of Disney, it is a much more transcendent moment. Deborah Voigt is an amazing actress as well as a singer. In due time, she rises and greets the sun with a smile that lights the stage and a melody that thrills you to gooseflesh and tears. Have you ever felt dead? Hopeless? Trapped? Futureless? Depressed? “There’s got to be a morning after….” is the same sentiment with inferior music. Her salutation of the day and the realization that she is alive reminds me of the Suryanamaskar in yoga, not that she does the position, but the joy of it shows in her entire being. The passion behind the resurrection in this story is her banishment by Wotan, her father, god of Valhalla and enforcer of all the rules. That scene as well struck me in the heart and gut as I pictured my own stern father turning his back on his daughter. Their parting was a wrenching and painful death, again reducing me to tears in the darkness of the theater…last June. She doesn’t awake until Act III of the next opera, which is what I saw today.
Oh, life! Light in your eyes, the touch of your own warm flesh, breath in your lungs. What compares with realizing the richness of being alive? We can barely endure a moment of this stunning gift. Something of sentience crashes in on the sparkle like a sledgehammer on an icicle. Now that I’m alive, there’s so much to fear! Brunhilde quickly realizes she’s lost her immortality, her armor and shield, and her autonomy. I know the place where my morning turns on a dime from sunny dawn to mental lists of obligations and anxieties. It’s like the Easter let down after the trumpet recessional when you know you have to leave the church and the music and go back to your business. Listening to Deborah sing those first phrases, I hitch my entire being to her joy and long to go with her into that rapture and never come back.
A human emotion, pure and powerful, captured in Art. It seems simple enough but somehow requires genius…or open innocence…or both. I feel compelled to become attached, to grab this jewel and hang on, to build a booth around this transfiguration, but that would be a strangle hold. I let it go, grateful for its presence and passing, and hopeful that another day the sun will rise and I with it.