Sunday, June 7, 2015

Christine Goerke, Diva, in NZ for Wagner Gala with NZSO

New Zealand is privileged to welcome the current Wagner/R Strauss opera diva, Christine Goerke to it's shores. Last heard she was winging her way here from New York by Air New Zealand. At least she knows where it is because she has been here before which is more than can be said for some of her countrymen who suggested that she hug a Koala while here! For those in USA who are geographically challenged New Zealand is a sovereign country and the couple of large Islands shaped like a boot a thousand miles East of Australia which does have Koala bears.  I must admit our flags are confusing. Only one star difference.

It is true that New Zealand is at the end of the world. It is the place where artists visit either at the very beginning of their careers, as I did when I desperately wanted to direct serious opera and ballet and because I was a woman nobody else in the world would let me, or at the end. We see a lot of artists here when they should have given up so it is refreshing  for us to have an artist  at the pinnacle of her career honour us for a very, very special Wagner Gala with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra where she will be singing highlights from Siegfried and Gotterdammerung.

Now I must warn  that on the whole New Zealand isn't into Wagner mainly because our opera companies rarely present it. The odd Dutchman  because of Donald McIntyre, a truly great Wotan and one Meistersinger in the 40 years I have lived here. When I once included King Mark's monologue from Tristan & Isolde  in a concert I was forced to cut it  the following performance as the audience really got restless. The abused King nearly chucked me in Lake Pupuke and I really didn't blame him because he  did it well.  It wasn't him or Wagner it is just that at that time the NZ audience had never seen a Wagner Opera. Even Tristan today would be shunned.

NZ loves La Boheme and for ballet Coppelia. When it came to funding The Sound of Music got the full Arts Council funding and our Fidelio with a mise en scene by fine artist Tony Fomison nothing! His oil paintings which I paid for, as the Art's Council reneged, are now hanging in the Auckland City Art Gallery and the director's room in the BNZ. They won't give them back!

So New Zealand is so lucky to hear Ms Goerke sing the major sections from Wagner's masterpieces first. We heard her Brunhilda first. New York is still waiting although Canada Opera and Houston Texas have had the experience. 

NZ is only getting a concert version but what a concert version. Truly the very best bits. Wagner wrote The Ring over a very long period of time. He started with the book of the last of the four operas, Gotterdammerung, but then he felt he should write a prequel Siegfried and then another opera to explain that, Die Valkyrie and lastly a preliminary evening Das Rheingold.  His style of writing changed during this period. Gotterdammerung is written in the old opera style with arias and duets as he progressed this altered so his first opera libretto is quite advanced.

Wagner then wrote the music for the first two operas and the first two acts of Siegfreid and then he stopped. He wrote Meistersinger because he needed a crowd pleaser for money and then he had that eureka moment with the chords of Tristan and Isolde and Western classical music was never the same again.

For serious Wagnerians, and my husband Miles was one of these, Act III Siegfried was the moment The Ring began. It is full of the most sumptuous sounds and from then on magnificent. It will be some sing too for the soprano because in the opera house she never has to sing Siegfried and Gotterdammerung on the same night and indeed it is a bit of an ask.

It is such a special occasion that I am actually going to go! I have a compromised immune system and it is not wise for me to attend large enclosed gatherings as if I catch a cold I end up in hospital but this is an exception. Nothing is going to stop me and I would like to encourage anyone who loves opera to go too. This is your opportunity. Don't miss it. You will regret it.

Make a note in diary Friday 19 June 2015, Town Hall Auckland for the musical experience of a lifetime.

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