Operas by Richard Wagner are notoriously lengthy. The final opera in the composer’s four-opera Ring Cycle–Götterdämmerung, or “Twilight of the Gods”–is one of the longest. Depending on the conductor’s pacing, the opera’s three acts with intermissions can clock in at close to six hours.
Because of its length, this opera (one of my favorites, by the way) has been affectionately dubbed “Goddamn, It’s Long!”, a play on its German title.
When we embark on the journey that is the final opera of this saga, some of my colleagues have been known to comment to one another that, in the time it takes to perform the opera, we could take a trans-Atlantic flight and be in Europe.
How ironic, then, that at the conclusion of last night’s Mets game, my husband commented that the game had lasted about the same amount of time as Götterdämmerung, albeit without the blazing pyre–The Immolation Scene–that concludes that opera.
Another irony about last night was this:
I often talk baseball with my good friend and opera colleague, bass-baritone Alan Held, pictured at left with Anna Netrebko. (If you saw the recent PBS telecast of Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann from the MET, you saw him in the villain roles.)
Hailing from Illinois, Alan is a died-in-the-wool Cardinals fan. Although he is not one to gloat, I did take my share of ribbing from him during the 2006 Post Season.
Although we had not corresponded prior to the Mets’ arrival in St. Louis for the three-game series, I fully expected to get a message from him following Friday night’s Cardinal win at the Mets’ expense.
Saturday began for me with a matinee performance of La Traviata. At the conclusion of the opera a little after 4PM, I tuned my radio to the game on the drive home. I watched the game on TV at home, waiting as long as I dared possible (about the time of the amazing Cora catch in foul territory) and then drove back in to the city for the evening performance of Tosca.
Desperately hoping to see a Mets win, I stayed tuned to the game via MLB.com’s At Bat and SlingBox. But when the orchestra tuned, the curtain went up, and my phone was turned off, the game was still scoreless.
Following the fortissimo closing chords of Act I, I quickly turned on my phone. Much to my surprise, not only was the game still going, but not a single run had been recorded.
Surprised at not having heard from Alan, before returning to the orchestra pit for Act II, I quickly typed and posted this message to his Facebook Wall:
“Wow! Can you BELIEVE how our teams are battling it out at Busch Stadium?! Watched at home after playing Traviata, started Tosca, and am watching now at first intermission! Here we go to the bottom of the SIXTEENTH!”
Cavaradossi was tortured mercilessly by Scarpia’s minions, Tosca sang passionately about her lifelong devotion to art, Scarpia pressed Tosca for sexual favors in exchange for her boyfriend’s safe release from prison, Tosca stabbed Scarpia, and the currtain came down. All of this had transpired during Act II and yet, although runs had now been scored, the game had still not ended.
With the aid of MLB.com’s At Bat, I did “see” the game’s conclusion–barely–before running into the pit for the beginning of the final act of the opera.
But over the course of twenty long innings, I still hadn’t heard back from my favorite Cardinals fan.
Wasn’t he watching this FANTASTIC game?? Where in the world was he??!!
I got my answer when I checked Facebook this morning:
“WOW!!! I only just now got in from “Gotterdammerung” and dinner here in L.A. Unbelievable. 2-1 in 20. That’s incredible–and that neither teamed scored until the 19th??? I just can’t get my mind around this one. How I would have loved to have seen this pitcher’s duel—and the Cards outhit the Mets but nobody could score. I’ve got to read about this one.”
It was then that I remembered that Alan was on the West Coast performing the role of Gunther in performances of–you guessed it: Gotterdammerung!