Tuesday 28 February 2012

Wagner's Vision

Act II
A wild, craggy summit
In the background, a gorge slopes up from below to a high ridge of rocks, from which the ground again sinks to the front.
Scene 1
Wotan, armed for battle, carrying his spear: before him Brunnhilde, as a Valkyrie, likewise fully armed.

Brunnhilde, shouting as she leaps from rock to rock up to the heights on the right.

On a high peak she stops, looks into the gorge at the back and calls back to Wotan

Brunnhilde disappears behind the mountain height at the side. Fricka, in a chariot drawn by two rams, comes up from the gorge to the top of the rocky ridge, where she tops suddenly and alights. She strides impetuously towards Wotan in the foreground.

Scene 3
Arrived at the rocky pass, Brunnhilde, looking into the gorge, perceives Siegmund and Sieglinde: she watches their approach for a moment and then goes into the cave to her horse, disappearing from the audience.

The above are substantial extracts from the stage directions for Wagner's The Valkyrie (in Andrew Porter's translation). Having, on Friday, attended Midsummer Opera's terrific performance of Acts 2 and 3 of the opera, I had cause to read the stage directions as I listened to the singers. I was very struck by Wagner's quite detailed visual images, which would seem almost completely unrealisable on stage. I never saw the previous Ring Cycle at the New York Met, but did see it on TV and don't remember the settings, attractive though there were, being anything like as finely detailed as Wagner requests. I'm not really sure its quite possible on stage.

Which brings me to the point of this post. Why hasn't anyone ever tried it on film. A film version of The Valkyrie which corresponded quite exactly to Wagner's requirements would make rather a thrilling counterpoint to the music. If modern film techniques can manage The Lord of The Rings, then surely they can do the same for Wagner.

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