Tomorrow is a big day - Friends of Covent Garden booking opens for the Royal Opera's 2012 revival of Richard Wagner's monumental Der Ring des Nibelungen. I don't use the word 'monumental' here lightly either - this is one of the grandest works ever created in western culture, up there with the Sistine Chapel in Rome, the Empire State Building and anything that came out of Ancient Greece (including democracy!). Don't believe me? The whole opera runs for over an awe inspiring 20 hours, yes.....20 hours! The thought makes me feel a little bit ill inside, i've never sat still through 20 hours of anything in my life! Of course, the event is played out over four evenings, and comprises four separate operas: Das Rheingold, Die Walkure, Siegfried and Gotterdammerung. But who cares?! Das Rheingold edges you in nice and slowly at a benign 2hrs 40mins - but after that the remaining parts of the series are of a desperately long nature - Die Walkure comes in at 5hrs 50 mins and Siegfried at 6hrs. It all ends with Gotterdammerung - a 6hr 30min MARATHON, by any standards, not just opera!
Perhaps you're starting to see my dilemma as to whether or not to join the mad dash for tickets tomorrow morning at 10am? Well it's not just the length that's an issue. Needless to say, 20hrs worth of opera isn't cheap, and when a complete Ring Cycle is being performed, you can only buy tickets for all four operas (except for 23 day seats for each performance at the ROH) The normal cheap seats are of course available, but i admire anyone who can sit for 6hrs in one of the Upper Slips bench seats, leaning forward for a view of the stage! £44, or £11 an opera, is of course a total bargain. But no, i think on this occasion i'll be forced to look for something a little more comfortable. Top price tickets come in at a whopping £1000 - I certainly won't be aiming that high! I think it'll be time to crack out that voucher kindly given to me when leaving my last job.
In addition to the length AND the cost, there is the small issue of subject matter. As in i'm likely to HATE it. It's all very much mythical creatures and fantasy - pretty much exactly like Lord of the Rings, which is about as long as well. I really have a strong disliking for Lord of the Rings and anything that comes even close to such a genre. Seeing that the Ring is essentially what Lord of the Rings seems to be based on (or they share the same influences at any rate) this doesn't bode well. It's essentially the tale of a chap who gets hold of a ring that can change the course of the world as we know it and all the people that try to stop him from doing something pretty stupid or evil or something else tedious with the ring. Yawn,yawn, yawn!!!
Yet despite all the above, i'd say there's a pretty high chance that i'll be glueing the phone to me ear and my eyes to the ROH website to battle my way through to snatch up some tickets. Why? Partly because i'm mad, but also partly because for me it seems to have become a test. A test of endurance and hopefully an experience that will stay with me for many years to come in some for or another - plus it might make a good story for my little nephew some years down the line: The day Uncle Mogs went to see Wagner and died (or rejoiced) inside. It'll be Autumn 2012 before I know which it's to be!
What's the Ring I hear you say?!
Everyone knows a bit of the Ring, even if they don't realise it - take a look at the links below for a better idea:
Not the best advert for Wagner - The Ride of the Valkyries used in Apocalypse Now:
A bit from Gotterdammerung, Metropolitan Opera, New York: