The Panhandle, during the first week of April, enjoyed two major operatic events: the encore HD live performance of the Metropolitan’s opera Die Walkure; Amarillo Opera’s Outrageous Spring Gala.
Because helmeted ladies with spears command attention, Wagner’s signal work will first receive consideration.
The plot is what it is, and generations of philowagnerians just accept that as a baseline and move on.
Similarly, if there is some cosmic verity of a moral, it’s don’t piss off Daddy, even if he’s king of the gods he’s conflicted with human issues, including a heavenly wife who gives him hell.
Two aspects of this production make it memorable: the stage and the performance of Christine Goerke who played Brunnhilde.
Robert Lepage, the director, went to Iceland for inspiration, which he found in translations of Viking skald sagas as well as the tectonic tension fracturing the island.
The result was a rotating helix of independent planks which was adapted for a number of scenes. These included Hunding’s hearth, a good place to spark incest, a wild wald where the mischief continues, and a perfect pyre for immolation.
In the opera’s iconic scene, “The Ride,” Nordic Amazons rode their helical steeds like broncos, something we know about in cowboy country, all the while hollerin’, operatically, of course, Hojotoho, which is Valkyric for Yee-Ha!
Then there is Brunnhilde, the character and the voice. American Christine Goerke becomes, with this performance, the Brunnhilde for this generation.
That voice, a Met rafter ringer, projected both an imperious warrior woman, as well as a vulnerable Daddy’s girl. This armored diva alternated between the polarity of these roles with facility. Kudos to this Long Island kid who has found her niche so close to home.
Special thanks goes to Mr. Deano Owens, the manager of the Hollywood 16, who makes viewing the Metropolitan Opera possible, and in the comfort for first-class lounge chairs.
These shield maidens cum body snatchers can come out here to the wide open Texas spaces anytime and become singing cowgirls. There’s plenty of stage and sky for them to sing to.
And, in so singing, they will augment the ongoing effort to “Keep Amarillo Artsy! Keep Austin Weird! Keep Lubbock in the Rear View Mirror!!!!!”