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Music and Culture

by Terra Wise originally written on Sunday, May 15, 2011

Die Walküre: A Stream of consciousness…

You know how sometimes you are in the car and a great song comes on the radio and even though you have reached your destination you can’t get out of the car until the song is over? Most often for me those songs are in the classic rock genre, something from the Joshua Tree album, or a Zep or Stones song, sometimes a fresh alternative style guitar jam — but not today. 

Today, I caught a live opera stream from the NY Met (it was the discussion between acts). I listened to the interviews and became interested, remaining in the car… and when it was announced the third act was coming up soon for some reason, even though it was a Wagner opera, I decided to listen and was reminded that an opera act takes a lot longer than a rock song!

After so many years of deliberately avoiding Wagner’s work and ugly prejudices, I listened… Maybe it is because I am getting older, or it was an exercise in Alzheimer’s prevention — research indicates that doing new things such as listening to alternative and new music, languages, points of view, or reading something new, is good for our brain. Doing things out of the ordinary, outside of the usual comfort zone is a method toward a healthier brain. And so I decided to set aside my negative block and listen to Wagner.

Perhaps some readers will remember (from back in the day) a very silly and funny SNL skit ‘Vikings and Beekeepers’ with John Belushi — well this Met performance was nothing like that, it was at the opposite end of the spectrum… just so AMAZING!

‘Die Walküre’ Act III “The Ride of the Valkyries” and the entire act live from the Met was a magnificent performance. The incredible sounds! The orchestra with its power of the individual and group voices, their skills as artists gave me goose bumps. I found myself breathing deeply too (opera singer style breaths)…

Truthfully, I still feel horribly uneasy that Wagner was a disgusting bigot, a hater of people, and that he influenced other haters… but despite that, I am glad I opened my mind to this experience; the opera left me speechless for a little while.




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